Alaska’s Haines Highway is a 148-mile road that runs from Haines, Alaska, to Haines Junction in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
While historically it was created as a trade route, today, the Alaska Haines Highway has a designation as a National Scenic Byway. That means it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting highways in North America.
Sounds like a pretty cool pick for a road trip, right?
If you’ve been thinking about exploring this route, we’ve got you covered. In this post, you’ll learn a little bit about the history of the Alaska Haines Highway and some of the most popular sites you can check out during your drive.
A Little Bit of History
The origin of the highway is based on old trading routes.
First used by the Chilkat Tlingit, a tribe of indigenous peoples who lived in the area, it was expanded in the late 1800s during the gold rush era. Then again in the early 1900s as copper mining became a significant portion of the economy. Finally, in the 1940s, the US Army built the highway as it currently stands, mostly as an alternative to sea routes between Alaskan and Canadian ports.
Since the late 1970s, the Haines Highway has been undergoing constant improvements to expand the roadway and repair the integrity of the road as it suffers from heavy winter storms.
Popular Attractions on the Haines Highway
Beyond the spectacular scenery, there are many interesting sites and attractions along the route.
Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, which was designated by the state, helps to protect the biggest concentration of Bald Eagles in the world. Visitors can explore the 48,000 acres which are home to an estimated 200 to 400 Bald Eagles throughout the year.
Chilkat Indian Village
A Tlingit village called Klukwan is another exciting stop to enjoy along the route. The peoples of this village have lived in the area for generations and have a rich culture, language, and experience to share with visitors who come to spend some time in the village.
Three Guardsmen Lake
The Three Guardsmen Lake is a birdwatchers dream location. Over 80 different species of birds have been spotted here by avid watchers. This area also has some hiking trails you can explore. One of the most popular is the Old Copper Butte mining road.
Interested in checking out a haunted lodge? Then keep your eyes peeled for Mush Lake Road in the Yukon. Once you see that, take to Dezadeash Lake; This is an old abandoned Army camp from World War II. The lodge has passed through many hands over the years and is rumored to have a few resident ghosts.
The Alaska Haines Highway is undoubtedly one of the more out of the way Scenic Byways in the country. But, that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. It’s just about a ninety-minute drive from Whitehorse to Haines Junction. The journey from Juneau is a little longer, as it involves a ferry ride through parts of Glacier Bay National Park, but the views are worth it!