Haines has a beautiful setting on the Chilkat Peninsula backed by the Chilkat Mountains. It lies south of Skagway (from which there is a regular ferry service) on the Lynn Canal and 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Juneau. When the rest of Alaska's salmon fishing grounds are locked in ice, bald eagles gather here by the thousand to fish in the Chilkat River. That's because Haines' climate is considerably drier than most of southeast Alaska - and warmer. The "big baldie" convention occurs during the winter, but even in summer Haines has 200 year-round raptor residents which are readily spotted on any of the fascinating wildlife tours available from Haines. You can visit the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve and see the eagles on foot, by bus, kayak, river raft or mountain bike. Here you can scan the trees and riverbanks for eagles preparing to snatch salmon from the water.
Located on the site of a Chilkat Indian village, it became a North West Trading Company post in 1878 and later was a gold rush supply centre, an outlet for the Porcupine mining district, and a frontier fort. A mission was established in 1881 by a missionary accompanied by naturalist John Muir. Today, the missionaries are no more and Haines has become one of Alaska's premier native cultural and arts communities. At Fort William Seward, where former army barracks now house museums, inns and art galleries, visit the Center for the Arts and see the distinctive fringed blankets, priceless examples of the Chilkat Indian weavers' art, made of finely-spun yarn from the hair of mountain goats.
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