It really depends on what you want to do.......
Plus = History, train ride to the summit, car rental to Yukon
Minus= Lots of cruise ship travelers, sometimes 5 ships in town
Plus = Hiking, fishing, small town atmosphere, kayaking, jet boat tours, native village of Klukwan,
Minus (to some) = not enough shops, but the few we have have art from locals
Both have wonderful scenery, a variety of lodging and restaurants and June typically has better weather than later in the summer......don't know about Skagway, but we have lots of wildflowers here in early June......bear watching may be iffy that early in the season as the salmon are not running until July or August.....
Hope this gives you a brief overview, but do not hesitate if you have any specific questions.......
Thank you, mombear. I think Haines is where we will stay. Please recommend lodging you prefer. Also, do we need to rent a car while we are there? Thank you so much.
For a motel, I would recommend Captain's Choice (they also rent cars and will pick you up at the ferry or airport)........if you want an apartment like place with kitchen, I would recommend The Attic right downtown or for higher end the River House which is on the Chilkat River about a mile from town, gorgeous views and close to local's favorite walking beach (even if you don't stay here, do take the time to stroll through the wildflowers here)......There are a few B&B's that I have no experience with but do know that Lynnview Lodge has wonderful views of Lynn Canal and they also rent cars......
Having a car would be necessary to get out to Chilkoot Lake, Chilkat State Park, the Eagle Preserve, or up to the Pass.....make sure the one you rent has unlimited miles......
This website has more information on lodging, etc.....
You mentioned renting a car at Skagway or Haines, so assume you are walk on passengers. We have spent nights in Haines in 1994 and 2009 at the old hotel at Fort Seward. The new owners have let the place run down, but the restaurant was very good. They handle Avis in the lobby.
And when we were in Skagway in 1991 and 1994 we stayed at the old Golden North Hotel. A couple of nights ago we were viewing our videos of the 1991 trip at Skagway. We rented a car there (reasonable) and drove to Whitehorse and back. Included the old hotel with resident dog (what Alaska hotel doesn't have a dog). Sadly, the hotel is no longer a hotel and the cruise line industry has literally ruined the charm of Skagway.
Perhaps you could spend a night at both Skagway and Haines. In addition to the Alaska Marine Hwy they do have a fast ferry.
Maybe if you had more time you could rent a car at one place do the long loop via Whitehorse and ferry back to your beginning.But, then my thinking sometimes is not normal. Kind of did this in 1994 when drove down to Haines from Valdez, ferry to Skagway, then Skagway to Petersburg, then to Ketchikan, and finally to Bellingham. It was a fun trip.
You could stay in either Haines or Skagway and take ferry or catamaran(takes about 40 minutes) and see both places. Skagway is a tourist trap with several jewerly stores lining the streets. I didn't got to AK to buy jewelry and be haggled by store owners to come in their store. But there is also the train ride or hiking in Skagway. We went hiking in Haines and drove around Haines, its a nice "untouched" town.
Mombear gives the best advise!
Haines is breathtaking and a must. We came on a cruise ship and went for just one day but packed a lot in. I would HIGHLY recommend Krsohel Wildlife. They care for orphaned animals and will take you on a tour. You need to call ahead as he doesn't give tours everyday. If you are into taking photos of animals this is a must!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The outskirts of Haines are breathtaking! Drive up to the Yukon through BC. We rented a car through Captains Choice. Two years ago it was $85.00. God was looking out for us that day because they rented us a car that had a spare being used as a primary tire. Drove 350 miles on that tire! I prayed the whole time. We didn't notice the spare tire till we got to the border and the border patrol said you realize you have a spare tire?
The management discounted us $20.
Hike some of the trails Mombear suggests and look for the Bald Eagles. Haines is known as Valley of the Eagles!
I envy you enjoy!
With just two nights, I would strongly discourage you from spending one night each in Haines and Skagway. You really lose valuable time, even if the "commute" on the fast ferry between towns is only an hour. It takes time to get to the ferry (early), wait, etc. I would recommend one or the other for 2 nights but slow down and smell the roses in one place.
I took would pick Haines. I was in both last summer and though I enjoyed the hiking near Skagway, I enjoy Haines much more. Quieter, similar driving into the Yukon if that interests you (it did me, but the weather was only so-so).
I stayed in the Attic last time and enjoyed it. I have stayed at Tanani Bay B&B twice and really enjoyed that as well (very close to Lynn View Lodge). Tanani Bay is slightly smaller but also has a full kitchen, which I like since I try to eat in a lot.
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