This scenic van tour travels about 100 miles along the Haines National Scenic Byway which passes through the world-famous Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, and travels into northern British Columbia.
This route was originally a trail used by Chilkat Tlingit traders, which eventually became the Dalton Trail. It was used by some prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898-1899; other mining kept the lower Dalton Trail active through the years following its establishment. The British Columbia provincial government converted its portion of the trail to a wagon road in 1909 when copper mining began at Copper Butte and Mt. Glave.
As you depart the dock in Haines, your expert cultural and naturalist guide will welcome you to the town of Haines and its fascinating geography, culture, and natural wonders. First, you will be treated to a short narrated driving tour through historic Fort Seward, one of the first US military bases in Alaska.
Then, you drive up the Haines Highway towards Canada, entering the Bald Eagle Preserve. Drive along the National Scenic Byway through the awe-inspiring Chilkat Valley to the heart of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve and make 1-2 stops to watch for wildlife and enjoy the incredible scenery. Your guide will tell stories about the fascinating local history and culture of the area. The Preserve is a state park and wildlife refuge established in 1982, the park covers 49,320 acres and is home to the world's largest concentration of bald eagles. 200 to 400 birds live there year-round, with up to 4,000 observed during the annual Fall Congregation.
Passing through the Canadian border, we gain elevation and travel above tree-line while towering peaks loom above the highway. There are fantastic views of glaciated peaks and wide expanses of alpine tundra.
Along the way you will stop for a delicious picnic-style lunch with a dramatic and picturesque mountain backdrop for a serene rest.
As you make your way back to Haines, stop again along the Chilkat River to look for wildlife and take photos of the breathtaking scenery. The river "flats" along the Haines Highway are the main viewing area for eagle watchers and considered critical habitat in the preserve.
Please Note: Guests need to be able to get in and out of tour vehicle, not wheelchair accessible. Passports required for all guests on tour.
Reviewer: Linda Grant
Considering all the rain, we were very satisfied with everything. Interesting at the border into Canada, handled well by the guide currently driving. Very satisfied, good lunch and generous guides. They made it great and Haines is beautiful and interesting.