We took the ferry from Haines to Skagway as part of our "loop" road trip. Hours vary so it's best to check the Website when you plan your trip, but in our case the ferry left at 12:30 pm, which meant we had to check in at 10:30 am and be ready for departure at around 11:30 am - you don't have to stay at the terminal after check-in as long as you're back at the appointed time. The ferry terminal is located about a 5-min drive from downtown on Lutak Road. Tickets are about $30 per person and $40 for regular cars.
The ferry ride itself is a lot of fun! It takes about an hour to get to Skagway and you get to enjoy the magnificient mountain scenery all the way there. The ferry is very comfortable, with an outside sundeck and plenty of seating place inside as well. As I was lying on a sunchair, it truly felt as though my Alaskan cruise dream was coming true for a fraction of the price!
A great way to see Skagway and not have to stay there with all those thousands of cruise ship passengers is to stay in Haines and make a day trip to Skagway by fast ferry.
About a 40 minute ride thru beautiful Lynn Canal, we went up at 11 in the morning and were back in Haines by 7:00PM. Vessel is owned by Chilkat Cruises, a native owned corporation.
The ferry does a brisk business picking up cruise passengers in Skagway and bringing them to Haines for river rafting, jet boat and walking tours. Ship carries about 200 people at speeds of 35 knots. No vehicles, tho.
We bought the train/ferry package for $125 each. This avoided risk of no room on the train in Skagway - which happens often we were told.
There are options for getting into Haines for example the community is connected via the Alaskan Highway, plane, the State Ferry system and private operaters such as Chilkat Cruises which I am able to comment on.
There are three gauranteed crossings a day between Skagway and Haines. It is approximately 35 minutes each way and the schedule is dependable and on time.
The trip is very scenic and beautiful. A more precise schedule should be consulted at their web site and additional crossing times can be determined from the company while in town.
This is a walk on service but a lot of bikers do carry on their bikes as well.
As per my Chilkat Cruises recommendation I thought I should also share this picture.
A lot of people living in the area for the summer use bikes to get around and you can bring your bike onto the walk on fast ferries so transportation by bike in Skagway and Haines is very cheap and efficient.
Chilkat Cruises runs two 150-passenger high speed jet catamarans that make the35 minute crossings between Haines and Skagway up to 28 times per day. This would be a great day trip from either community. This is the most scenic portion of the inside passage. Each cruise is staffed by a native naturalist. On the weekends the same ships make the 2.5 hour trip to Juneau from Haines. Saturdays 9am and 12pm. Sundays 4pm and 7pm.
Round Trip Haines/Skagway - $44 for adults, $24 for children under 12. One Way - $24 for adults, $12 for children under 12. tikes and bikes travel free.
They also offer tours in conjunction with the fast ferry. These tour prices are as follows:
White Pass Summit Train & FAST FERRY Combination - Cost: $99 One-Way, $119 Round-Trip (plus tax) Includes cruise and train ticket.
Haines Highlights Deluxe Excursion - Cost: $36 pp (plus tax) Approximately 2.5 hours
Inquire about discounts when purchased with FAST FERRY tickets!
Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Deluxe Excursion - Cost: $44 pp (plus tax) Approximately 3 hours
Inquire about discounts when purchased with FAST FERRY tickets!
The AMHS Ferry, M/V Fairweather, is a great way to travel. 2 hours at 36 knots through some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Cheap too. Fairweather runs from Juneau to Haines for 3 out of every 4 days departing from Auke Bay Ferry Terminal (on the 4th day they run to Sitka).
Brand new ship with lots of room, comfortable seating, a small snack bar, and an onboard naturalist. Saw many whales.
Was surprised when we arrived in Haines to find the ferry terminal is about 5 miles north of town. Guess they moved it there to get more shelter from the winter winds. Was only one taxi at the terminal and the ride to town was $15 each.
Although the ferry is a great way to travel to and from Haines, if you are in a hurry, there is an affordable airline that can save you time in travel. Wings of Alaska will even pick you up from your campground or hotel with enough notice. I split my trip with both ferry and airplane and it was well worth it to see Haines by air and sea.
Haines, Alaska is one of the ports of call that people can utilize on the Alaska Marine Highway System. Here is an image of the M/V Aurora pulling into Haines one snowy afternoon in December 2003. In the winter fewer ships are in use, and most of the fleet is in dry dock. The Aurora and LeConte are two little workhorses of the fleet. Each ship in the AMHS is named after an Alaskan glacier.
Consider driving the Golden Circle Route from Haines to Skagway. For those interested in a leisurely but long drive (Over 300 miles) with overnight stays and spectacular scenery that does not repeat itself. Daily ferry service makes this a very popular driving trip from Juneau.
On a recent trip, we rented a car and took it on the ferry throughout our Southeastern Alaska tour. (This was enjoyable and convenient, but expensive when you add in ferry charges.) In hindsight, you can get by without a car in Sitka and many other Southeastern Alaska towns. A car or RV is particularly useful in Haines, Skagway and Juneau.
You will see spectacular scenery in the National and Provincial Parks of neighboring Canada. The little known, Tatshenshini - Alsek Provincial Park and Kluane Lake National Park protect some of the most dramatic scenery in North America. Tatshenshini - Alsek River has become the holy grail for most river rafters. Much of the area is roadless, though it can be toured by helicopter from Haines Junction. From the road you will see many small glacial lakes, Kluane Lake, and a vast tundra, all with high glacial mountain backdrops. Services are available at strategic points along the route. For history buffs, this is also a much more complete look at the Gold Rush sites including the Whitehorse River Boats and the rugged lake country of the South Klondike Highway. This plan allows for the most scenic and detailed overview of the area. It is a perfect way to get a real sense of the interior region without an 800 mile drive to Fairbanks or Denali. With the dryer and cooler weather of this region, you also stand a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Plan at least a half day using the car in Juneau before your ferry departure allowing you to see all the outlying areas.
If you have at least three to five days this is the most dramatic region on the Inside Passage and The Yukon.
Renting a car for a trip to Haines is using your money smartly.
Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Raft Trip: $78 pp
Rental car in Haines: $70/day
Rental car Juneau: $40/ day
Unlike in many Alaska towns, the roads leading out of Haines actually do go places.
We drove to the end of Mud Bay Road past the old red Letnikof Cove Cannery to Chilkat State Park, offering stunning views of the Davidson and Rainbow Glaciers across the inlet.
In the other direction, beyond the ferry and up Lutak Inlet, the Chilkoot River and Lake are just as picturesque. We saw four Alaskan brown bears and bald eagles feeding on salmon in the Chilkoot River. In summer, you are also more likely to see bald eagles here than at the eagle preserve.
Head up the Haines Highway stopping at the picturesque Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, and then continue on to the Chilkat Pass. You would swear that you have ventured into interior Alaska over on the Canadian side. The huge, snowcapped and glaciated St. Elias mountains set against a sparse landscape is a seriously dramatic site. It looks much like the pictures I have seen of the Alaska range.
The Hasingland Hotel can arrange a rental car. There also a Avis rental office in Haines. (800/230-4898) Eagles Nest Motel has rental cars at (800) 354-6009. We brought our rental car with us on the ferry from Juneau.
The Golden Circle Route
Consider driving the Golden Circle Route for a leisurely but continuous long drive with overnight stays and spectacular scenery that does not repeat itself. Only the most scenic part of the Inside Passage is repeated on the scenic return ferry trip to Juneau.
Rent a car for less money in Juneau. Take the ferry from Juneau to Haines. Drive from Haines to Haines Junction including the Tatshensheni - Alsek Provincial Park and Kluane Lake National Park. Drive the legendary Alaska Highway to Whitehorse. Drive through the rugged lake country on South Klondike Highway to Skagway. Return by ferry to Juneau. (See general tips for more detail.) 4-5 nights and 360 miles.
Travelers arriving by car or motorhome to Haines or Skagway may find this mini-tour of one of the most scenic parts of the inside passage to Juneau very attractive. The biggest advantage is that the trip is made in half the time of the traditional ferry and all sightseeing transportation and most meals are included in the price. Depart Skagway and Haines in the morning and head south through Lynn Canal for a fully-narrated wildlife cruise each morning.
Upon arrival at Auke Bay, board a motorcoach for a tour of Juneau's highlights, including the state capitol building, the governor's mansion and downtown Juneau. Spend the afternoon having lunch, shopping and exploring the downtown district. A bus meets you downtown for a trip to breathtaking Mendenhall Glacier before returning you to Auke Bay for an evening cruise back to Haines and Skagway. A light dinner is served underway. Travel to Juneau aboard the Fjordland, a new 65-foot, state-of-the-art, fast-hulled catamaran.
May 23 - Sept 1, 2003 (Daily Schedule)
Depart Skagway: 8am
Arrive Juneau: 11:30am
Juneau City Tour: 11:30 am to 5:00pm
Depart Juneau: 5:00pm
Arrive Haines: 7:30pm
2003 Prices - adult / child
Fjord Express to Juneau Day Cruise Package
From Skagway $129 / $99
From Haines $119 / $89
Price includes roundtrip wildlife cruise and sightseeing bus tour of Juneau and the Mendenhall Glacier.
(boat only fares for the same day return)
From Skagway $109 / $89
From Haines $99 / $79
One-way or overnight trips
Skagway-Juneau $85 / $65
Haines-Juneau $75 / $55
Passenegers staying overnight will be charged for two one way fares.
The Alaska Marine Highway is the only highway that connects all of southeastern Alaska towns. You can design an entire trip to all of the high points of southeast Alaska on the ferry system. Be mindful of departure and arrival times. Because of tides and other factors, you can find yourself arriving at 3am. If you are slightly flexible, there are enough sailings to design a very pleasant itinerary without crazy hours. Book your ferry schedule before your flight, and decide how long you want to stay in each place.
The daily north Lynn Canal summer Schedule starts at the beginning of June and ends mid September. The schedule becomes more irregular after mid september, but continues to be the most inexpensive way to to a multiday trip to the north Lynn Canal region.
Leave Juneau/Auke Bay 7:00 a.m.
Arrive Haines 11:30 a.m.
Leave Haines 12:45 p.m.
Arrive Skagway 1:45 p.m.
Leave Skagway 4:15 p.m.
Arrive Haines 5:15 p.m.
Leave Haines 6:30 p.m.
Arrive Juneau/Auke Bay 11:00 p.m.
Juneau to Haines - $27
Juneau to Skagway - $37
Haines to Skagway - $21
Vehicle Tarrifs (up to 15 feet)
Juneau to Haines - $53
Juneau to Skagway - $71
Haines to Skagway - $28
Round trips and through trips cost less than a series of one way fares.
If you need to reserve a cabin or you are traveling with a car it is important reserve ahead. Either will add significantly to the fare, with staterooms generally being the less expensive of the two. This can easily be done at the AMH web site. The site is a bit quirky but fairly easy to negotiate. Make sure you reserve everything you need on each segment you book.
For longer trips they also offer cabins which rent by the room and not by the person. They provide a comfortable and private place to rest with your own bathroom. Room with three berths or larger are likely to be arranged with beds side by side instead of bunk style.