Nestled amidst the breathtaking wilderness of Alaska lies the charming town of Haines. With its rugged landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and abundant wildlife, Haines offers a unique and unforgettable experience for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking tranquility in a picturesque setting, Haines has something to offer everyone. In this blog post, we will explore the top things to do in Haines, Alaska, and why it should be on your bucket list.
- Immerse Yourself in Nature:
Haines is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by towering mountains, pristine fjords, and lush forests, the town offers a myriad of opportunities to connect with nature. Start by exploring Chilkoot Lake State Park, where you can hike scenic trails, spot wildlife such as bears and eagles, and enjoy fishing or kayaking on the tranquil lake. For a unique experience, take a wildlife cruise along the Chilkat River, where you can witness the majestic bald eagles gathering during the winter months.
- Discover Native Culture:
Haines is home to the rich heritage of the Tlingit people, and you can delve into their culture through various activities. Visit the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center, which showcases an extensive collection of Tlingit artifacts and offers insights into their history. Attend a traditional dance performance or participate in a totem carving workshop to gain a deeper understanding of the Tlingit traditions and artistic expressions.
- Explore Historic Fort Seward:
Step back in time by visiting Fort Seward, the first permanent U.S. Army post in Alaska. This well-preserved historic landmark offers a glimpse into Haines’ past. Stroll through the picturesque streets lined with charming officer quarters, now transformed into bed and breakfasts, galleries, and shops. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Alaska Indian Arts Center, where you can admire stunning Native artworks and watch local artisans at work.
- Take a Scenic Drive along the Haines Highway:
Embark on a scenic journey along the Haines Highway, one of the most picturesque drives in Alaska. The highway stretches for 155 miles, connecting Haines with the Yukon Territory in Canada. Marvel at the awe-inspiring vistas of glaciers, towering peaks, and turquoise lakes as you traverse this stunning landscape. Keep an eye out for wildlife encounters along the way, as moose, bears, and mountain goats are often spotted in the area.
- Indulge in Local Cuisine:
No visit to Haines is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Sample fresh seafood delicacies like Alaskan salmon and halibut at the town’s cozy restaurants and seafood shacks. Don’t forget to try the famous Alaska king crab legs for a truly indulgent treat. Additionally, Haines boasts a vibrant arts scene, and you can enjoy a cup of locally roasted coffee or browse through local galleries showcasing unique artworks.
- Visit the Hammer Museum:
Uncover the unexpected at the Hammer Museum, a quirky and unique attraction in Haines. This one-of-a-kind museum showcases a collection of over 2,000 hammers from around the world, highlighting their historical significance and diverse designs. Explore the exhibits and learn about the fascinating role of hammers in various industries and cultures.
- Go Fishing:
Haines is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities. Grab your fishing gear and head out to the local rivers, lakes, or the ocean for a chance to catch prized Alaskan salmon, halibut, or trout. You can either fish independently or join a guided fishing tour, where experienced local guides will take you to the best spots and share their expertise.
- Attend the Southeast Alaska State Fair:
If you happen to visit Haines in late July or early August, don’t miss the Southeast Alaska State Fair, held annually in the town. This vibrant event brings together locals and visitors for a weekend of live music, agricultural exhibits, carnival rides, and delicious fair food. Experience the warmth and camaraderie of the community as you immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.
- Explore the Kroschel Wildlife Center:
For a unique wildlife encounter, venture to the Kroschel Wildlife Center, located just outside of Haines. This sanctuary is home to a diverse range of rescued and orphaned animals, including bears, lynx, foxes, and more. Take a guided tour and learn about the center’s conservation efforts and the importance of protecting Alaska’s wildlife.
- Hike to Mount Ripinsky:
Challenge yourself with a hike up Mount Ripinsky, a prominent peak near Haines. The trail offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and glaciers. As you ascend, you’ll witness the beauty of the alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers during the summer months. The reward at the summit is a breathtaking vista that stretches as far as the eye can see.
- Attend the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival:
If you’re a bird enthusiast, plan your visit to Haines in November to coincide with the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival. During this time, thousands of bald eagles congregate in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, offering an incredible opportunity for birdwatching and photography. Witness the majestic birds soaring through the sky and learn about their behavior and habitat from knowledgeable guides.
- Soak in the Hot Springs:
Relax and rejuvenate in the soothing natural hot springs near Haines. Take a scenic boat ride to the nearby Chilkat Peninsula, where you can indulge in a warm soak amidst the serenity of the wilderness. Soaking in the mineral-rich waters while surrounded by stunning landscapes is the perfect way to unwind and soak up the tranquility of the Alaskan wilderness.
From immersing yourself in nature’s wonders to experiencing the vibrant local culture, Haines, Alaska, offers a diverse range of activities to suit every taste. Whether you’re exploring museums, casting a fishing line, or witnessing the majesty of wildlife, Haines will captivate you with its untamed beauty and welcoming atmosphere. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this hidden gem of Alaska.