We changed our schedule to be there on one of the few days that the Princess cruise ships were in Haines or Skagway – they have a contract with the cruise line. It was definitely well worth changing our schedule for it, as we were told. What had appealed to me was the opportunity to see animals that we would be almost definitely unlikely to see as we did our driving tour – like the wolverine, but the tour was more than we had hoped for. It exceeded our expectations by a longshot. Unfortunately, Steve was off on a movie shoot in Europe, but we really didn’t feel shortchanged with the tour provided by Rocky and Mario. As other reviewers have mentioned, they do entertain, but they educate too. Learning is more fun if you enjoy it. Highlights? Each animal was a highlight in its own right. We laughed at the antics of the wolf who wanted to play with Mario, but we learned how important they are to keeping deer populations healthy, and balanced. Throughout the 2 hours (was it only 2 hours? We gained so much!) we learned about the knowledge and wisdom of the native people, and their respect for all of nature. It was amazing too, to learn how much respect and fear wildlife have for “hot wires”/”electric fences” – to keep away from them, and to learn that movie trick, that between a 1800lb grizzly bear and human actors is a little hotwire that the bear doesn’t want to encounter!!! My traveling companion was thrilled to kiss a moose! We were amazed to see Mario carrying a Canadian Lynx around as if it was a housecat! While we didn’t get to see it outside the pen, the wolverine was wonderful to see up close. He wanted to play so badly, but Mario admits to not having as much control with him as Steve does. We were also astounded to know that moose love bananas! The riper the better!
To get to the Korschel Film Wildlife Center, it is about 45 minutes’ drive north of Haines, and do be on time. They have limited parking space. If you can't manage hills, you may have a problem, some of those hills were fairly steep... although Mario walked up and down backwards, talking as he went!
To be honest, I didn't get inside, but the outside looked interesting. One of my friends searches out unique museums and places, and when I was researching Haines before the trip, the Hammer Museum jumped out as a place to see. Unfortunately, our timing wasn't good for its hours of operation.
I went Flightseeing Glacier Bay, Chilkat and St. Elias Ranges with Mountain Flying Service. I got to do a glacier and beach landing, both were experiences like none other. They have a beautiful plane with windows that go from the floor to the ceiling. Paul the pilot has been flying the area longer than anyone else in the area and knows his stuff.
Since flying with him I’ve sent many friends and relatives out and everyone has loved the trip.
Chilkoot Lake is located not too far outside the city of Haines. If you want to have a virtually guaranteed sighting of bald eagles, then this is the place for you. Beyond the eagles, red salmon abound since it is the spawning season (you can only kayak in the summer months of course because the lake freezes during winter), goats can be seen traversing the surrounding mountains, and if you are lucky, then you might just see bear too.
If you are a novice kayaker, or never have done it before, there is no need to fear. The lake is very calm and easy to traverse. If you go with a guide they will tell you all you need to know. And the most important thing to know is to stay away from the shores. Bears have been known to jump out of the woods quickly and unexpectedly, thus completely freaking out unsuspecting kayakers.
Absolutely Alaskan Tours offers a kayaking excursion that includes Chilkoot Lake and many other destinations.
Also known as the Beerfest, this is a great way to spend time with several other beer connoisseurs. It usually takes place at the end of May, so make your travel reservations early! There are also some great campgrounds that are right by the water and you can often view moose (yes, swimming), eagles, whales, and funny locals!
Fort Seward is in Haines, Alaska. Fort William H. Seward was named after the US Secretary of State who arranged Alaska's purchase in 1867.
Because of an ongoing border dispute between Canada and the US, in 1902, the fort was built... the first army post in Alaska.
When the fort was decomissioned in 1947, a group of war veterans bought it. Today it's buidings house numerous hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, etc.
In 1879 S. Hall Young, a Presbyterian missionary and John Muir a naturalist came to the Valley of the Eagle offering the Chilkat people Christianity and an education. The city of Haines was set on a narrow strip of land between the Chilkat River and the Lynn Canal.
In 1902 an act of Congress deeded 4400 acres of land adjacent to the city of Haines to the army for the construction of Alaska's first permanent army post. The construction began and on March 3, 1904 the Fort was named in honor of William H. Seward who was the secretary of state who negotiated the purchase of Alaska (Seward's Folly) and had visited the Chilkat Valley in 1869.
Today these buildings are still standing tall and easy to find in Haines, they are worth a tour around and offer a bit of an elevated view of the community.
I am not affiliated with this company in any way, but I know from my previous work on Expedia's travel boards that this is legitimate. Many people have saved a great deal of money with these books. You pay $99.95 for the coupon books and tours are two for one or free. (Many tours and attractions have stipulations of course.) Most people that I have talked to about the coupon books were able to actually book the tours at the advertised price. On the more popular tours, book at least 2-3 months ahead of time. This could be particularly beneficial if you plan to stay close to the coast in Alaska, and you do not plan to rent a car. Look at "The deals" section on their web site and decide whether it is worth the money for you. I opted not to buy the book on my last trip. See if your desired tour is listed. You may be suprised!
This is the company line:
The Great Alaskan TourSaver offers Alaska's top-flight attractions. Everything in the book is either totally free or two-for-one. Airlines, cruise boats, railroads, attractions, tours, adventure trips, hotels, car rental companies and cultural trips all on a 2-for-1 basis. Additionally, there are more than 20 totally free offers including jetboat rides, museum passes, tours…even a glacier cruise!
Check them out!
You could save big bucks!
This is an essential brochure from the Haines visitors center. They will mail it to you.
Haines was a missionary settlement in 1901 when the US government established this World War I era milatary base. It was built in order to resolve the ongoing border dispute between the US and Canada. Most of the fort's building arrived by ship in peices and were asembled on foundation laboriously built using picks and shovels, aided by one man and a horse drawn scraper. The fort never saw military action, though service here was considered foreign duty.
Ft. Seward has to be one of the most scenic military bases ever constructed in the United States. The amazing thing about it is that it largely intact and in good repair. The buildings were bought as government surplus in 1947 by a group of WW II veterans. This group of veterans also left their legacy on the fort through preservation, organiziing native culture events such as the Native Arts Center, potlatch salmon bakes and the chilkat dancers, and opening the Hotel Halsingland. They were also instrumental in lobbying the state for the development of the Alaska Marine Highway.
The walking tour is a photgrapher's delight. There is something about these formal white buildings set against the backdop of glacier covered mountains and the Lynn Canal that is particularly appealing. Get the walking tour guide from the the visitor's center or your hotel. It is called "A Walking History Walking Tour of Ft. Wiilliam H. Seward".
Summer is almost here and then fall, in the fall Haines has some of the best wild mushroom picking around! I have picked chantrelles, boletes, hedgehogs and many more varieties. In the spring the morels are profuse, There are a lot of bears here so bring protection of some sort, gun or bear spray. And be alert at all times. While picking I have caught some nice cutthroat trout, seen amazing wildlife and have enjoyed the area very much.