Known as “The Adventure Capital of Alaska,” Haines is situated in one of the earth’s most picturesque settings: on the shores of the longest fjord in North America. Rich in Tlingit culture and pioneer history, Haines offers a wide range of things to see and do, including nature and adventure tours, great restaurants, quaint retail shops, exceptional fishing and some of the world’s best heli-skiing.
Local artists’ works, from jewelry to totems poles, are on display in local galleries and shops, and outdoor enthusiasts of all levels will find opportunities for recreation and adventure year round in Haines. Some of the best hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, snowmobiling, skiing, bird-watching and wildlife viewing in Southeast Alaska can be found here.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find Haines a paradise of unlimited opportunity for recreation and adventure in all seasons. “Outside Magazine,” among others, named Haines as one of the best heli-skiing spots on the planet. You can also test your levels of endurance with trails leading to mountain tops offering 360 degree views of Alaska’s Inside Passage, or stroll along inlet waterway beach trails as you take in the surrounding scenery of mountains, carpets of wildflowers and bird and sea life. Pick up a copy of “Haines is for Hikers,” a trusty guide to the local trail system, available at the Visitor Center.
Haines is accessible via the Haines Highway or the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), Alaska’s state ferry system. Several RV parks and campgrounds in the area provide travelers with a variety of choices. Whether you stay right in town or commute a few miles out, you will find sites offering views of Haines’ breathtaking scenery, with optimal access to all your Alaskan outdoor adventure interests. RV parks in and around town offer full-service hook-ups, state parks located outside of town allow tent and RV parking and Portage Cove State Recreation Site, with scenic views of the Lynn Canal, provide tent camping for backpackers and bicyclists only. Cook freshly caught salmon on the grill while chatting around the campfire about the adventures of the day with new friends.
Originally called “Dtehshuh” or “End of the Trail,” Haines is home to Klukwan, the “Mother Village” of the Chilkat branch of the Tlingit (pronounced “CLINK-it”) people. Having been the first settlers to the Chilkat Valley, traditions of the Tlingit still flourish here today. Tours are available to the village, allowing visitors to interact with the Chilkat people as they process salmon in traditional ways, carve totem poles and offer insight into their history. Then, enjoy Tlingit legends brought to life by the Chilkat Dancers and the Storytelling Theater.
Alaska’s first permanent army post, Fort Seward, was established here in 1904. Decommissioned in 1947, today the fort now boasts visitor accommodations, restaurants, art galleries and recreation sites.
Just 15 minutes from Haines by air, you can enjoy spectacular views of Glacier Bay National Park. Or stay on the ground to see these ancient rivers of ice, Haines has a few glaciers of its own such as great views of the Rainbow and Davidson glaciers in Chilkat State Park, just 8 miles south of Haines. Local tour operators offer custom, up-close experiences of these and other glaciers that spill their violet-blue ice into the surrounding valleys.
Warm currents in the Chilkat River cause the latest season salmon run in Alaska, which attracts the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. Every year from October through January, the number of eagles soars to nearly 3,500 in the nearby Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. It is not uncommon to see dozens of eagles congregating in a tree or on a river sandbar.
The best kept secret of Haines are the more than 50 local artists, who create unbelievable shopping opportunities with a variety of galleries and numerous gift shops found in Fort Seward and downtown. Paintings, jewelry, pottery, wood-turned bowls, hand-made dolls, ivory sculptures, soapstone carvings and hand-woven baskets are just some of the many treasures to be found. Visit the Alaska Indian Arts Building in Fort Seward to see amazing Tlingit jewelry making and totem pole carving skills on display. Find original artwork and locally made products to take home with you from your Alaska adventure. And don’t leave without visiting one of Haines’ extraordinary museums, including the world’s first and only hammer museum.
From a greasy spoon to pizza, pasta and locally caught fish galore, you definitely won’t go hungry in Haines. Sit down, dig in and listen up for some of the local gossip while you eat.
Lush river banks and waterways in and around Haines cater to fishing interests of all levels. All five species of Alaska salmon are found in Haines: king, silver, sockeye, pink and chum. Salmon runs occur May through November, with the Chilkoot River as a favorite fishing spot among locals and visitors alike. The King Salmon Derby in May and June rewards fortunate anglers with prizes for their catches. In addition to salmon, other popular local fish include Dolly Varden, cutthroat trout and, everybody’s favorite, halibut. Lucky anglers may find 300-pound halibut in Chilkoot Inlet just off the shores of Haines. Guided charters are available for both Alaska salmon and halibut.
Haines is well-known for its abundant wildlife. In the air, on land and in the sea, you’ll find ample opportunities to spot wildlife of all types. Several hundred eagles reside here year-round and, in the fall months, Haines is home to the largest gathering of eagles in the world, as well as 260 other species of birds. On or near the water, be sure to keep your eyes open for the chance to glimpse seals and porpoises as well as humpback and orca whales breaking the surface. On land, you could spot bears, moose, mountain goats and many other animals in their natural habitat along mountain lakes and streams. Simply stated, Haines is an Alaskan wildlife haven.