I have traveled throughout much of Alaska but in my opinion tiny Haines, Alaska ranks as perhaps the most beautifully positioned little town in the entire state. Dwarfed by jagged mountains that scrape the sky, Haines nestles on the northern reaches of the Lynn Canal, a 4 1/2 hour ferry ride from Juneau.
For my husband and me, Haines’ River House vacation rental is a great property to rent, located along the wide tidal flats of the Chilkat River. Location, location, LOCATION! River House has it all with spectacular views of icy glaciated mountains looming over the Chilkat River greeting visitors every day from the windows and deck of the house. Early or late in the day be on the lookout for brown bears searching for food at low tide or strolling down the quiet lane that passes by the house. Eagles soar overhead and are often seen scavenging for a meal on the river’s tidal flats. Many times during our visits my husband and I found it difficult to leave the River House, content to while away the hours watching the play of light across the mountains.
On to more practical matters; River House can be rented in its entirety or the Upper Level (full bath, full kitchen, wood burning stove, living room and dining area) or the Lower Level (Bedroom, sitting area, efficiency kitchenette, full bath with washer and dryer) can be rented separately. My husband and I have rented the Upper Level twice (once in November and again in August), feeling very comfortable in our home away from home. NOTE: the Upper Level is accessed by a set of stairs and the Upper Level’s bedroom is located upstairs via a circular staircase so bear this in mind if mobility impaired.
River House offers comfortable furnishings, a spotlessly clean interior, abundant kitchen utensils, wifi and cable television that make this vacation rental welcoming to visitors. Hostess/owner Deb is particularly accommodating, helpfully offering information about local tours, galleries, stores and restaurants. During our first visit to Haines in November our rental car was unfortunately pushed off an icy snow-packed road into a ditch by a pick up truck during a snowstorm. Deb offered to drive us back into town to help us get all the post-accident details sorted out. That’s very kind, memorable Alaskan hospitality!
A car is a necessity if staying at River House in order to drive into town, look for bears and salmon out on the nearby Chilkoot River during summer, or to drive up to the Valley of the Eagles along the Chilkat River any time of the year. Haines offers many good choices for dining. For retail therapy, several galleries and gift shops are located in town. Many restaurants and stores are closed off-season although during summertime local businesses are open. A well-stocked grocery is located in town and a local wine shop offers plenty of good bottle selections. We have purchased flash frozen, vacuum-packed halibut and salmon to cook at River House from “Dejon Delights” (try their smoked salmon too!) and the local cannery. Be sure to check for hours and whether they are open.
Fortunately only a few mega-cruise liners visit Haines during summer so Haines still retains small town charm that is absent in cruise-dominated Alaskan towns. Happily there are no cruise-affiliated diamond and t-shirt stores lining streets in Haines! It’s a sleepy and laid back little town. On non-cruise ship days, it’s a pleasure to speak with locals one meets on the street, at the local bookstore or the fish taco stand. The fast ferry from Skagway shuttles cruise passengers to Haines for excursions but they only go on tours and then leave Haines quiet once more when returned to their mega-ships.
If you are a traveler looking for a special Alaskan experience spend some time in beautiful Haines. To make your visit even more memorable, book the River House. If you are like us, it’s likely you’ll never want to leave.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Charming cottage on the mouth of the Chilkat River, where the fresh water meets the saltwater. Stunning river and mountain views, great wildlife viewing opportunities. Migrating birds, brown bears, moose, wolves, coyotes, sea lions have all been seen. Spotting scope in upstairs unit. Close to town but feels miles away. BBQ; sauna. Open spring skiing through fall silvers and Eagle Fest.Fully equipped kitchen in one unit, mini-kitchen in the other. Living area, dining table, deck, picnic table, w/d. Three night minimum; pets on approval. ... more less