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Haines trip - driving Golden circleroute vs. staying in town

Sunnyvale, CA
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Haines trip - driving Golden circleroute vs. staying in town

We are going to Alaska next August and will be spending 2-3 full days in Haines; we will be flying in and out of the area. On one day we want to just drive around Haines, go lake kayaking, relax and similar.

Option A for the remaining two days was:

Day 1: Drive Haines highway to Lake Kathleen, make lots of stops to hike, etc...

Day 2: Take Ferry to Skagway. While in Skagway either take train to Whitepass and back, or rent a car and drive to Emerald Lake. Train is simpler, but renting a car gives us more solitude (no crowds) and flexibility

This has the advantage that we stay in the same place all 4 nights. Disadvantage is that we have to adhere to the ferry schedule (last ferry back is 6pm) and either have 2 cars rented one day or pay for train. Also, each day we have to backtrack back to our starting point. Looked into car ferry and can't fit their schedule into ours.

Option B:

Spend 1-2 days driving from Haines to Skagway (assuming we can rent our Avis car in Haines & return it in Skagway). This has the advantage that there is no backtracking, but we will be changing hotels each night which is always a hassle. But, another advantage is we have the option of covering everything in one day (leaving it open for other adventures either in this area or elsewhere on our itinerary), or spending two days (staying night in Whitehorse) and also seeing some of Skagway.

What are the highlights on the route, vista points, hikes, general tourist attractions, interesting towns?

Can this be done in one day and see a decent amount of the sights?

haines, alaska
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1. Re: Haines trip - driving Golden circleroute vs. staying in town

Your option A seems to make the most sense......the scenery between Haines and Haines Junction is by far better than the stretch between HJ and Whitehorse.....there is less traffic on this stretch of highway than the highway going from Skagway to Emerald Lake, as well....

I don't believe you can do a one-way drop off of your rental car from Haines to Skagway......you would need to take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry with the car to return it to Haines.......I would not recommend driving from Haines to Skagway in one day......long, long drive....unless you could devote 3-4 days for the Golden Circle route, the passenger ferry from Haines would be the best way to get to Skagway....when you purchase your ferry tickets, you can also purchase your train tickets.....take the earliest boat over, go to the National Park Service museum, stroll the town, enjoy the hustle and bustle with all the cruise ship passengers, have lunch, take the afternoon train and get back with plenty of time to catch the 6 pm ferry....... or make arrangements with Dyea Dave for a van tour up to Emerald Lake......

Lake Tahoe...
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2. Re: Haines trip - driving Golden circleroute vs. staying in town

If you desire to ride the White Pass train don't waste your time with the one that only goes to the summit and back. You cannot detrain at the summit as you will be in Canada.

Check with their website for other options that travel further into Canda such as Fraser and Carcross where you can get off the train.

Adirondack, New York
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3. Re: Haines trip - driving Golden circleroute vs. staying in town

I agree that your option A makes more sense. After several trips along Alaska Highway I found the scenery between Whitehorse and Haines Junction less appealing than along any other sections in Yukon. Haines deserves more time than just a very brief visit suggested in option B. Personally, I would skip a visit to Skagway in order to spend more time in Haines. There is a lot to do right in Haines especially if you are planning to travel one day along Haines Highway. If you decide on option A I highly recommend driving to Haines Junction and visiting Kluane National Park Visitor Center. The Raven Hotel in HJ has an exceptional restaurant with expensive but surprisingly wonderful food. I'm not sure if this place is open for lunch but you need to make reservation a way in advance for an evening meal. http://www.ravenhotelyukon.com/

4. Re: Haines trip - driving Golden circleroute vs. staying in town

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