Haines, Alaska Visitor Guide
Haines, Alaska is a picturesque small town nestled between the Chilkat Mountains and the waters of the Lynn Canal. The town offers visitors an array of attractions and activities that showcase the natural beauty and rich history of the region. In this guide, we’ll cover Haines’ latitude and longitude, directions from Anchorage, things to do, history, RV and camping information, annual festivals and events, and famous people who have called Haines home.
Haines is located at approximately 59.2358° N latitude and 135.4450° W longitude.
Getting to Haines from Anchorage
Haines is not directly accessible by car from Anchorage, as there are no roads connecting the two cities. The most common ways to reach Haines from Anchorage are by air, by sea, or by a combination of driving and a ferry ride.
Several airlines operate flights between Anchorage and Haines, including Alaska Seaplanes and Ravn Alaska. The flight time is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, with a layover in Juneau. Upon arrival at Haines Airport, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or arrange for a shuttle to your destination.
The Alaska Marine Highway System operates a ferry service between Whittier (about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage) and Haines. The ferry ride takes approximately 15-20 hours, depending on the specific route and schedule. You can bring a car on the ferry, but advance reservations are recommended.
By Car and Ferry
Another option is to drive from Anchorage to Skagway (about 800 miles), then take a ferry from Skagway to Haines. The drive to Skagway takes approximately 16 hours and requires crossing the Canadian border; ensure you have a valid passport and any necessary travel documents. The ferry ride from Skagway to Haines takes about 1 hour.
Things to Do
Haines offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors.
Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, located along the Chilkat River, is home to one of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world. Visitors can view these majestic birds from designated viewing spots or join guided tours to learn more about their habits and habitat.
Alaska Chilkat Tlingit Cultural Center
The Alaska Chilkat Tlingit Cultural Center showcases the history and culture of the Tlingit people, who have lived in the region for thousands of years. The center features exhibits, demonstrations, and performances that highlight Tlingit art, history, and traditions.
Haines is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering opportunities for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography. Popular hiking trails include the Mount Ripinsky Trail and Battery Point Trail. The Chilkoot River and Chilkat River are prime spots for salmon fishing, and the surrounding waters are home to marine life such as whales, seals, and sea lions.
Haines Sheldon Museum
The Haines Sheldon Museum, located in downtown Haines, provides visitors with a glimpse into the area’s history, from Native cultures and the gold rush era to the present day. Exhibits include photographs, artifacts, and artwork that tell the story of Haines and its people.
Haines’ history is rooted in the Tlingit people, who have lived in the region for thousands of years. The area now known as Haines was once part of the Chilkat Tlingit territory, with the village of Klukwan serving as an important trade and cultural hub.
European exploration of the area began in the 18th century, with Russian and British explorers mapping and surveying the region. In 1879, the U.S. Navy established a mission and school in Haines, which later became Fort Seward, a U.S. Army post. The town of Haines grew around the fort, with the arrival of gold prospectors, settlers, and traders.
By the early 20th century, Haines had become an important transportation and supply center for the region, with the Haines Highway and the Alaska Marine Highway providing critical links to other communities. Today, Haines is a popular destination for tourists seeking to experience Alaska’s natural beauty, rich history, and outdoor adventures.
RV and Camping Information
Haines offers several RV and camping options for visitors:
Haines Hitch-Up RV Park
Located within walking distance of downtown Haines, Haines Hitch-Up RV Park provides full hook-up RV sites, as well as amenities such as restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi.
Oceanside RV Park
Situated on the waterfront, Oceanside RV Park offers RV sites with partial hook-ups and beautiful views of the Lynn Canal. Amenities include restrooms, showers, and a dump station.
Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site
Located about 10 miles north of Haines, Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site offers rustic camping in a scenic setting near Chilkoot Lake. There are 32 campsites, picnic tables, fire pits, and a boat launch. There are no hook-ups available, but there are vault toilets and potable water on-site.
Port Chilkoot Camper Park
Port Chilkoot Camper Park, near Fort Seward, is a smaller campground with limited amenities. The park offers RV and tent camping sites, with a few sites having electric hook-ups. Restrooms and potable water are available.
Mosquito Lake State Recreation Site
About 27 miles northwest of Haines, Mosquito Lake State Recreation Site offers a more remote camping experience. There are 10 campsites, picnic tables, fire pits, and a boat launch. No hook-ups are available, but there are vault toilets and potable water on-site.
Annual Festivals and Events
Haines hosts several annual festivals and events that celebrate local culture and traditions:
Southeast Alaska State Fair
Held in late July, the Southeast Alaska State Fair is a multi-day event featuring live music, food, arts and crafts, agricultural exhibits, and carnival rides. It’s a fun-filled event for the entire family.
Alaska Bald Eagle Festival
Celebrating the annual gathering of bald eagles in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival takes place in November. The event includes guided tours, wildlife photography workshops, educational presentations, and cultural performances.
Haines Beerfest, held in May, brings together craft breweries from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for a weekend of beer tasting, live music, and food. Proceeds from the event support local nonprofit organizations.
Haines Winterfest, held in February, celebrates the best of winter in Alaska with a variety of activities, including skiing, snowshoeing, winter photography workshops, and community events.
Famous People from Haines
Tazlina Mannix, born in Haines, is an accomplished musher who has competed in several long-distance sled dog races, including the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Mannix comes from a family with a strong mushing tradition and continues to contribute to the sport through her racing and involvement in the sled dog community.
John Schnabel was a gold miner, entrepreneur, and television personality who lived in Haines for many years. Schnabel was the owner of the Big Nugget Mine and appeared on the Discovery Channel’s reality series “Gold Rush.” His mining endeavors and larger-than-life personality made him a well-known figure in Haines and beyond.
Joe Ordonez, a Haines-based author, photographer, and naturalist, has dedicated his career to showcasing and preserving the natural beauty of Alaska. He has authored several books on photography and wildlife and is the owner of Rainbow Glacier Adventures, a tour company that offers guided trips in the Haines area.
These individuals, along with many others who have called Haines home, contribute to the town’s unique character and sense of community. With its blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural events, Haines is a welcoming and unforgettable destination for travelers seeking an authentic Alaskan experience.