Haines is located on Portage Cove, Chilkoot Inlet, on the upper arm of Lynn Canal, 80 air miles northwest of Juneau; 152 road miles southeast of Haines Junction, YT, via the Haines Highway. Haines is only 15 miles by water from Skagway (Alaska Marine Highway ferries and more frequent passenger-only fast ferry, available), but it is 355 miles by road.
Haines is a gateway to the Alaska Highway for Inside Passage travelers and an important service stop for highway travelers. Its spectacular scenery, outdoor recreation and laid-back lifestyle have also made Haines a popular destination.
Originally an Indian village, Chilkat and Chilkoot Indians met and traded with Russian and American ships here. It was also their portage route for transporting canoes from the Chilkat River to Portage Cove and Lynn Canal. In 1879 missionary S. Hall Young founded a Presbyterian mission and school here.
Just to the south of Haines city center is Fort Seward, named in honor of the secretary of state William H. Seward, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Later renamed Chilkoot Barracks, Fort Seward was the first permanent Army post in the territory.
Today, Haines is an important port on the Alaska Marine Highway System as the southern terminus of the Haines Highway, 1 of the 2 year-round roads linking southeastern Alaska with the Interior.
For a small town, Haines is very much a full-service community, with a choice of lodging and RV parks and campgrounds, dining spots, hardware stores and grocery stores; gift shops and galleries; automotive repair and a car wash; laundries; and a post office, bank, ATMs, school and library.
- Take the walking tour of historic Fort William H. Seward.
- Alaska Indian Arts, located in the restored hospital at Fort Seward, displays Native art. Watch local craftsmen carve totem poles and work with silver and stone.
- Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center presents the pioneer history of the Chilkat Valley and the story and culture of the Tlingit Native people.
- The Hammer Museum displays more than 2,000 hammers, grouped by purpose and age.
- American Bald Eagle Foundation Interpretive Center shows visitors how the bald eagle interacts with its environment.
- Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the annual gathering site of more than 3,500 bald eagles from mid-October through December.
- The Southeast Alaska State Fair takes place in July with 4 days of live music, food and crafts booths, exhibits, horse show, logging show, rides and a grand parade.
- Drive out to Chilkoot Lake, a beautiful spot with a picnic area and camping.
- Tour operators in Haines offer fishing, sightseeing, flightseeing, photography trips, bicycle tours, guided hiking, bus tours and nature walks. Visit the Chamber of Commerce for a list of travel and tourism businesses.