Featuring: Haines, AK; Haines Junction, Yukon; Whitehorse, Yukon; Skagway, AK
Day 1 Haines
Arrive in Haines, a picturesque town surrounded by steep mountains and scenic ocean, with charming museums (including the famous Hammer Museum), a thriving arts community, America’s longest and deepest fjord, salmon-filled rivers and glacier-covered mountains. It’s also home to the Bald Eagle Festival (and a lot of bald eagles), which takes place every year in November. Haines is located in the Inside Passage, 75 miles north of Juneau. The town is accessible by state ferry or small plane from Juneau, which in turn is serviced by commercial jets with multiple flights daily. (You can also reach Haines via the Haines Highway, which branches south from the Alaska Highway at the town of Haines Junction in the Yukon.) Take a jet boat or float trip on a glacial river through the Bald Eagle Preserve where you’ll find the world’s largest concentration of bald eagles perched in trees and flying across the sky.
Day 2 Haines Junction
Make the 3.5-hour drive north to Haines Junction (located across the Canadian border, so don’t forget your passport). The drive takes you through Tatshenshini-Alsek Park and Kluane National Park and Reserve (part of the largest internationally protected area in the world) with many mountain trails, lakes and rivers to explore. Haines Junction serves as the hub of the Kluane region with the National Park headquarters and a range of visitor services. Wilderness excursions can include river rafting, canoeing, hiking, fishing, horseback riding and glacier flightseeing, so there’s no shortage of exciting adventure.
Day 3 Whitehorse
Drive two hours east to Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon, on the Alaska Highway. Whitehorse hosts a thriving downtown with plenty of stores, visitor amenities, fine dining, museums and a nearby hot springs. Spend the morning exploring a couple of Whitehorse’s top attractions, such as the S. S. Klondike sternwheeler, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre or MacBride Museum. Or wander the Yukon River waterfront and quaint city streets. In the afternoon, continue back across the Alaska border by driving south on the Klondike Highway to Skagway, a 2.5-hour drive. The route takes you through the historic town of Carcross on the route to the Klondike and through the dramatic rocky landscape of White Pass. Look for rushing waterfalls, alpine wildflowers and oddly incongruous sand dunes along the scenic drive. Overnight in Skagway.
Day 4 Skagway
Spend the day in Skagway, Alaska’s gold rush jewel, which was once the starting point for more than 40,000 gold-rush stampeders who were headed to the Yukon in search of gold. Quaint false-front shops and restored buildings stretch for seven blocks along Broadway Street, all of which is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Stroll the wooden sidewalks alongside locals in period costumes or take a tour on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad and experience the adventure of ascending the pass on a narrow-gauge railroad. After your day in Skagway, return to Haines via an Alaska Marine Highway ferry. Be sure to make reservations in advance for ferry.