A Spectacular Do-It-Yourself Port Day in Haines, Alaska

by Janis on July 13, 2015

We were recently reminded of a fabulous day that we had six years ago in Haines, Alaska while on a Holland America Line 7-Day Glacier Discovery cruise.

Holland America cruise ship in Haines, AlaskaMost cruise guests going to Haines, Alaska (population approximately 2,400 people and 1,897 d0gs) take a shore excursion by ferry to Skagway to ride on the White Pass & Yukon historic railroad, which is fabulous. But if you’ve already done that, or historic train rides don’t interest you, Haines offers some great things to see and do as well.

A side note: Haines and Skagway are 14 miles apart by water but they are 350 miles by road which is the Golden Circle Route.

We opted to rent a car to use during our port call in Haines. The Avis car rental is located at the Hotel Halsinglandon on Ft. Seward Drive, and they don’t have many vehicles. Rent well in advance of your arrival in Haines.

rental car in Haines, AlaskaWhen we picked up this rental vehicle, we confirmed with the gentleman helping us that the two nearby state parks were worth a visit.  When also mentioned that we might drive on the Haines Highway into Canada, and we asked for a recommendation for lunch.  Without hesitating, he said, “Stop at mile marker 33 and have a burger. They are great!” We took note.

drive to Chilkoot State Park Once in our vehicle, we headed to Chilkoot State Park 10 miles north of Haines off Lutak Road. On the way, you will pass the Alaska State Ferry terminal.

drive to Chilkoot State Park, AlaskaWe had stunning views the entire drive.

Chilkoot State Park, Haines, AlaskaMr. Jones wanted to get in a boat with a fishing pole at Chilkoot Lake.

We just admired the view, and then drove onward, back towards Haines.

Haines, AlaskaWe stopped to take a photo of the salmon ladder on the return drive.

Holland America Line in Haines, AlaskaWe got a great view of our cruise ship as we drove back through Haines to head to a second state park in the area. While driving in Haines, we got a look at the Fort William H. Seward historical Military Base, which is more than 100 years old.

Haines, AlaskaNext, we headed south out of Haines on Mud Bay Road. The scenery this road was picture-perfect, especially at the Letnikof Cove Cannery.

The Disney movie White Fang was filmed in Haines in 1991.

Chilkat State Park, Haines, AlaskaChilkat State Park is located 8 miles south of Haines. Mud Bay Road becomes a dirt road with 14 percent grade before you reach the park.

Chilkat State Park, Haines, AlaskaThe city of Haines borders 20 million acres of protected areas of wilderness. Chilkat State Park offers views of Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers.

Glacier, Chilkat State Park, Haines, AlaskaWith binoculars or a telephoto lens, you can capture a close-up view of the glacier from the outdoor deck of the visitor’s building.

Map of Haines. Credit: Haines Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

From the map above, you can see three red roads heading out of Haines. We now were ready to drive on the Haines Highway to the Canadian Border.

33 Mile Roadhouse, Haines, AlaskaAt mile marker 33, we stopped for lunch at the 33 Mile Roadhouse that the rental car guy had recommended.

33 Mile Roadhouse, Haines, AlaskaHe was correct.  The hamburgers and side salad were delicious, and we were quite hungry.

33 Mile Roadhouse, Haines, AlaskaWhile eating our burgers, we enjoyed the close-up view of hummingbird’s right outside the window.

Haines Highway to CanadaFueled, we continued the 42-mile drive to Canadian border. At the border, we had to show our passports, but there was not a long delay.

Haines Highway to Canada

After passing the summit, we eventually turned around and headed back toward Haines, crossing the border again; this time getting a US stamp in our passports.

Hammer Museum, Haines, AlaskaBack in Haines, we went by the Hammer Museum for a photo, although we did not go in to view the collection of hammers. It is the “world’s first museum dedicated to preserving the history of man’s first tool, the hammer.

Babbling Book, Haines, AlaskaWalking down Main Street in Haines, we discovered the Babbling Book, an independent book store with a wide variety of books, cards, toys, maps, journals and other gift items. We cannot resist a fun bookstore, and we spent a long time in this one.

"If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name", Heather LendeI figured out from a book display that Heather Lende, one of my favorite Alaska authors, is a local resident, and that the “Small-Town Alaska” that she wrote about in her book If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska is Haines.

Holland America in Haines, AlaskaFinally, we returned our rental car and headed back to the cruise ship.

From Main Street to the Canadian border, and from one state park to the other, we had an exceptional day exploring Haines, Alaska, and its surrounding wilderness.

Have you visited Haines? What was your favorite thing about the Alaska town? 

Learn more about Haines, Alaska with these books:

A Naturalist’s Guide to Haines, Alaska
It Happened Along the Haines “Gold Rush Alaska” Highway: Tales of Intrigue from Mosquito Lake to Porcupine Creek, Alaska

Check out these other Alaska blog posts:

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