There’s a reason Haines is known as the adventure capital of Alaska. Although many cities in Alaska feel different than those in “the lower 48,” Haines is more unusual than most with its unique rustic feel. It’s almost as if time has stopped and chain stores, and even stoplights, haven’t infiltrated this town of 1,300 that once topped Outside magazine’s list of “20 Best Places to Live and Play.”
In the late 1890s, when Jack Dalton turned an Indian trail into a tollway ($10 for four horses with an unloaded sled or wagon), the town emerged as a stop for prospectors headed to the Yukon for the Klondike Gold Rush. Decades later it became a logging town, before turning to tourism beginning in the 1970s. These days, Haines is known as a haven for artists and nature lovers and is visited by far fewer cruise ships than other Alaskan coastal cities.
Haines is a hotspot for rafting and hiking, salmon-, halibut- and trout-fishing in the Chilkat River or kayaking on Chilkoot Lake—as well as heli-skiing in the winter. During the late fall and early winter, thousands of bald eagles migrate through this area to feed on the salmon, an event celebrated by the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival in November. The memory of prospector days lingers on with opportunities to pan for gold, while the Indian Arts gallery, with its totem pole carving studio, offers a glimpse of an even older Haines.