Alaska's first major gold strike happened in Juneau at the end of the 19th century, starting the Alaska Gold Rush. Then, about 10 years later an estimated 100,000 people sailed to Haines and Skagway to make the grueling hike to Canada's gold fields. Few found their fortunes, but many discovered a treasure: Alaska. The Klondike Gold Rush populated our state and inspired legendary stories like Jack London's "Call of the Wild." In the summer, ferries sail multiple times per week between Juneau, Haines and Skagway, giving you the flexibility to make the trip fit into your schedule.
Ferry from Juneau to Haines (+)
Ferry from Juneau to Haines (-)
Begin your adventure in Juneau, and take a morning ferry so you’ll arrive in Haines by noon. Grab lunch, and then visit the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Even if you're an Alaskan and have seen plenty of bald eagles, you haven't seen them like this. Eagles gather here in huge numbers to feed on spawning salmon. Be sure to bring your camera. Then, check in to your hotel or B&B for the night.
Morning in Haines, Afternoon in Skagway (+)
Morning in Haines, Afternoon in Skagway (-)
There's plenty to do in Haines. Fill your morning with gold panning, hiking or fishing. Then catch the afternoon ferry and you'll arrive in Skagway one hour later. Skagway is a well-preserved frontier town lined with historical buildings. At the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center, you can join a ranger-guided walking tour. Visit shops and museums, then have dinner and snuggle into your hotel or B&B.
Back to Juneau or On Up the Road (+)
Back to Juneau or On Up the Road (-)
There's still plenty of Gold Rush history to experience. Catch a fun theatrical skit about local history, like the gunfight that killed Soapy Smith. Then, visit the old Skagway Gold Rush Cemetery, an interesting, ghostly side trip. Catch the late afternoon ferry, which will have you back in Juneau in about seven hours, with the one-hour stop in Haines. But don't put your camera away: the cruise through Alaska's forest- and mountain-lined Inside Passage is gorgeous.
Both Haines and Skagway connect to the highway system, so it's easy to include the Inside Passage as part of a longer road trip. If you’re on a driving tour, on day two of this itinerary head up the Haines Highway, to Haines Junction and Whitehorse, before arriving in Skagway. Although the ferry route is only 14 miles long, it's 350 miles by road between Haines and Skagway, so take your time, spend a couple extra days, and enjoy the scenery. Start the Golden Circle Route at any point along the way to experience spectacular scenery and Gold Rush history.