Amazing as Haines, Alaska is, it is still a lesser known travel destination. Cruise ships by the hundreds ply the waters just in front of this picturesque village on their way to other ports leaving Haines mostly to the locals and a small clutch of tourists with a greater appreciation for the path less traveled. Frequently touted as one of the most beautiful towns in North America, Haines is nestled in a quiet nook on a peninsula surrounded by braided rivers, massive coastal mountains, lush temperate rain forests, and one of the longest fjords in the world.
Glaciers cascade from the high peaks, and each fall thousands of Bald Eagles arrive to dot the trees along the Chilkat River. One of only three road-accessed towns in all of Southeast Alaska, Haines is often the jumping off point for many adventures into the interior of Alaska. Serviced by the Alaska Marine Highway, many overlanders have included Haines in their travel plans, although several regret having not allocated more time to visit the splendors of the surrounding area.
In the last several years, Haines has become the ideal playground for the world’s most daring heli-skiers, and backcountry adventurers. A wildlife photographer’s paradise, the cast of characters in Haines includes eagles, whales, bears, moose, and countless other species. Kayakers glide across the calm waters of the Lynn Canal in the summer months and ice skaters carve the ice of Chilkoot Lake in the winter beneath the glow of the Northern Lights. Fishing boats bob up and down in the quaint harbor with the white buildings of Fort Seward in the background. It’s a breathtaking panorama, in any direction you look.
Images courtesy of: Bob Adkins Photography
There are two routes to Haines. The Alaska Marine Highway offers service from Bellingham, Washingtom to Haines on the Alaska State Ferry system. Prices are reasonable, accommodations authentically Alaskan, and the views from the ship unrivaled. For those wishing to drive to Haines, the road from Haines Junction to the town of Haines is one of the most scenic in all of North America.
Author’s note: I had the good fortune to call Haines my home for a few years. Having traveled the globe, it still holds the top spot for the most incredible places I have ever explored. Not just a pass-through, Haines is an adventure destination worth the visit.