Located 75 miles north of Juneau, Haines is one of the Inside Passage’s most scenic communities and a crucial link between the roadless communities of the Inside Passage to the Alaska Highway.
Every summer, thousands of travelers, particularly RVers, pass through Haines on their way to Canada’s Yukon and Interior Alaska. Haines sits at the northern end of the Inside Passage and is an important port of call for the Alaska Marine Highway System, whose ferries deposit RVers and other travelers in Haines en route to the Alaska Highway to the north. It is one of the few communities in the region that is connected by road to Canada and the Alaska Highway. In 2009 the Haines Highway, which follows the Chilkat River Valley 40 miles to the Canadian Border, was designated the Valley of the Eagles National Scenic Byway for the annual fall migration of bald eagles to the area. Although Haines sees its fair share of vehicle traffic, it retains the charm and character of small-town Alaska.
Like its sister community of Skagway, Haines was established during the Klondike Gold Rush, when the entrepreneurial Jack Dalton capitalized on an existing Tlingit trade route and turned it into a toll road leading to the riches of the Klondike gold fields. The Dalton Trail quickly became such a heavily used pack route to mining districts north of Whitehorse, Yukon that the U.S. Army arrived in 1903 and established Fort William H. Seward, Alaska's first permanent post.
Things to do
Interesting museums, a thriving arts community, campgrounds located within walking distance of downtown and restaurants that are not part national chains all offer compelling reasons to say a while in Haines. It is one of the sunniest spots in the notoriously rainy Inside Passage region, and its stunning mountain-and-ocean landscape offers hiking, kayaking, fishing, whale watching and plenty of other outdoor-adventure options.
Haines isn’t just a favorite with humans – late each fall, thousands of bald eagles congregate at the Chilkat River to feast on a late run of salmon. The gathering inspired what is now a well-established annual event called the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival, which, along with birdwatching, features photography workshops, art shows and preservation-focused lectures. Nothing compares to the sight of eagles too numerous to count clustered in the branches of trees lining the river, swooping in to snatch salmon from the river’s icy waters.
Shops, bed-and-breakfasts and artist galleries now fill Fort Seward and provide a historical shopping district for visitors.
Also not to be missed is the world’s only museum dedicated to the hammer. The Hammer Museum is a true labor of love showcasing the owner’s admiration for mankind’s oldest implement.