Haines vs. Skagway

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by HayDuchessLives, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. HayDuchessLives

    HayDuchessLives Loquita

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,219
    Location:
    Anchorage
    A friend who lives in Juneau bought a motorcycle this past winter and has been storing it in my back yard. He won't have time to come retrieve it until mid August so I offered to ride it to Juneau for him, IF I can fit on the bike, which I don't think has been lowered. He offered to cover expenses - what a delightful deal! :clap

    I'm trying to decide whether to ride to Haines or Skagway to catch the ferry and the mileage difference is miniscule. Which route is the most scenic? I've heard the Klondike Hwy is beautiful, so I'm kind of leaning towards going to Skagway.

    There's a humorous aside to this potential trip. :ear

    The bike is a KLR and past history has shown that KLRs typically don't perform well around my #1 DR. Therefore I will have to keep the trip a secret from my bikes so they don't get jealous or send mischievous ju-ju to the KLR.

    I'm sure AlcanRider will have some smart-alec concerns about whether or not the KLR will survive riding with me. Therefore, to alleviate any trepidation about the safety and performance of the bike, I would like to let him know that I recently rode a KLR up a couple mountains in Colorado and both of us survived the trip just fine. And it was a BLAST, with lots of twisty, narrow roads with steep dropoffs. I'm ready to move back to the Rocky Mountain region as the riding opportunities and scenery are spectacular.

    Cheers - I think spring may have finally arrived!
    #1
  2. Alaskahack

    Alaskahack Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    690
    Location:
    Wasilla
    Went that way last year, Haines Jct, Whitehorse, Skagway ferry to Haines, then home.
    Going again on the 12 th Haines Jct, Haines, Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island.

    Both ways are great, but I would go straight to Haines, the Haines rd is great and coming off the pass the trees are beautiful be sure to visit the Eagle preserve, take a camera

    Have fun

    Bob
    #2
  3. Farmholio

    Farmholio Smarmy Marmot

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    130
    Location:
    Haines, AK
    Both routes are great but there are a few differences that may tip the scale for you. As far as the passes go, the climb up out of Skagway is steeper curvier and shorter to get up to and over. The Haines pass is a lot more gradual. There's still curves to it but they're a lot more gently sweeping.

    Another big differences is availability of services and options. Out of Skagway, you'll go through Fraser and Carcross and if you choose Tagish, before getting up to the Alcan. For the alternative route, you'll have services at Mile 33 Haines highway and then nothing until Haines Junction. That's about three hours to get there. A bit less on time getting into Whitehorse from Skagway.

    Time wise is probably close to a wash. Its a couple of hours from Skagway to Whitehorse but then you've got to make up the hour and a half or so further to the Junction. Haines to the Junction is about three hours.

    I prefer the Haines highway. You get above tree line after the border and get lots of nice wide open scenery that lasts for long stretches. There's less traffic as well and what there is can be passed with ease (RV's or Canadians towing crap). The other way is nice too though with some amazing views but just a bit more traffic from being a little more accessible from Whitehorse. The stretch between Whitehorse and the Junction isn't that interesting and things get a little busy through Whitehorse as well but if you're jonesing for a Tim Horton's or a stop at Canadian Tyre, Skagway it is. Either jumping off point is a gorgeous boat ride.
    #3
  4. Farmholio

    Farmholio Smarmy Marmot

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    130
    Location:
    Haines, AK
    I just re-read your post and noticed that your friend is covering the expenses for your trip. If that's the case, go to Skagway. There's much better and a much wider variety of accommodations there plus its a longer ferry ride. If its his dime, make a great trip of it. Haines is a nice place and has places to stay and places to eat but they are no where near as many or as good as what's over in Skagway. The locals here tolerate tourists and travelers but I wouldn't go as far as to say that we even come close to catering to them. If its your dime though, you'll spend less money in Haines (there's very little to spend it on over here in comparison). Skagway will be busier during the day but they usually prod the tour boat cattle back onto the boats close to dinner time. They won't come back again until morning. Both routes are incredibly beautiful and the good news here is that you really can't go wrong with whichever you decide.
    #4
  5. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,762
    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Does Skagway have a Mountain Market equivalent? I love that place. Yeah, I'm a "tree hugg'n granola." :D Free wifi at the library in Haines too.

    Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
    #5
  6. Alaskahack

    Alaskahack Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    690
    Location:
    Wasilla
    When I was in Skagway last summer in June I was amazed on the number of jewelry stores that town has, fine art galleries, native carvings

    There really wasn't that many places to get a good meal.

    The tour company's basically own that town and the only people they cater to are the tour passengers bus or cruise. IMO.

    That being said when we come back from POW we plan on spending a couple days there but are going to be camping. I want to do some hiking and ride the train up to the pass

    Last year We were darn lucky to get a room for $150.00 per night, and between tour buses and cruise passengers and non of them walk on the boardwalks they just take pictures of them.

    Haines at least you'll find some locals there.
    #6
  7. KHuddy

    KHuddy Big Sky Country

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,267
    Location:
    Pterodactyl Outpost
    Skagway is very touristy in the summer. Some good restaurants and bars, but also too many painfully white legs sporting black socks and sandals.
    #7
  8. Farmholio

    Farmholio Smarmy Marmot

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    130
    Location:
    Haines, AK
    #8
  9. Fighter

    Fighter Head Gruver

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Oddometer:
    5,148
    Location:
    Alaska
    That is no way to talk about my people!
    BlueHairs put fuel in BiggerBird. :clap:clap:clap:clap
    Fite
    #9
  10. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2003
    Oddometer:
    4,173
    Location:
    Over the rear wheel
    As others have noted, either one will provide scenic delight as well as some great riding. Chilkat Pass followed by the descent of 40 Mile Hill and the ride along the Chilkat River going into Haines via the Haines Cut-Off. There is also a park south of town with a scenic ride along the inlet (Mud Bay Rd) that you would probably enjoy.

    If you choose Skagway: Carcross (if you follow this route, stop at the museum in Carcross), Windy Arm of Tagish Lake with Bove Island sitting out there inviting a photo stop, the descent from the top of White Pass with the White Pass & Yukon narrow-gauge tracks across the valley, and the possibility of taking a side trip to Dyea to trek part way up the Chilkoot Pass trail.

    If you pick the latter choice, be prepared to walk around the old town if a cruise ship is in port, as traffic is at a virtual standstill in those blocks. Decent dining can be had closer to the northeast entry to the town, away from the tourist-trap downtown section.

    Now hold on there! :ddog If you recall, last year I volunteered to see your Dumpster Reject out of the state, never to return. It wasn't you I was intending to dispose of, although there have been times...
    #10
  11. HayDuchessLives

    HayDuchessLives Loquita

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,219
    Location:
    Anchorage
    Thanks for the input! I am bummed I have a tight schedule for this trip as I would love to do more hiking and exploring along the way. I am judiciously saving my vacation time for multiple other trips, but I may have to take an extra day for this ride since I don't know when I'll make it back this way. I decided to go to Skagway as my friend had already purchased a ticket (for him) leaving from Skagway and he basically just has to change dates and names. I'll prep the bike and be on my way around mid July.

    Whoohoo!!! I enjoy riding through new scenery and seeing elderly tourists with white legs and black socks. :rofl

    AlcanRider, I know you graciously offered to help escort me and my Lovely DR out of state and there are times you have encouraged me to get out of your hair by doing crazy things like jumping off bridges so you can get fun photos. However, just think how boring your life would be without me and my Lovely DR in it. :D
    #11
  12. gharnden

    gharnden Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    South Central US
    Haines. Been to both. Skagway was way too touristy for me. Haines is a neat little port town. Drive from Haines Junction to Haines was awesome. Downside is that the drive from Whitehorse to Haines Junction is nothing special especially after seeing northern BC and earlier parts of the Yukon.
    #12
  13. HayDuchessLives

    HayDuchessLives Loquita

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,219
    Location:
    Anchorage
    My friend who owns the KLR is lucky I'm a "low-maintenance" female. I will save him some money as I plan on paying for the gas and camping out along the way, although I hope to stay in a hostel in Skagway, just in case it rains. That way I'll have a dry place to organize my gear for the ferry ride and the subsequent flight home from Juneau. I was going to leave on a Friday morning, but now I hope to sneak out of work a couple hours early on Thursday afternoon and camp outside of Glennallen my first night. I'll arrive in Skagway Saturday afternoon and should have time to do some hiking or exploring or possibly kayaking, especially since the ferry doesn't leave until 3:00 p.m. the following day. I'll skip the jewelry stores! I would rather spend money on farkles for my bike instead of myself.

    Hmmmm.. :hmmmmm maybe I could "dance for farkles" in a saloon in Skagway. I would have a whole new crowd to perform for! :lol3
    #13
  14. windypoint

    windypoint Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Walla Walla
    Hands down, Haines is better. Skagway is like visiting Disney land on a school break during the Summer. Be sure to try the Fireweed restaurant, it's the best pizza in Alaska.
    #14
  15. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,862
    Location:
    Granbury Texas
    Haines. The drive from Haines to Haines Junction is beyond words. Plus, I hate pasty people wearing black socks. And yes, most of the shops in Skagway are owned by the cruise ships and sell Chinese crap to the tourist. No thanks.
    #15
  16. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,839
    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    How's the brewery?
    #16
  17. hrspwrfiend

    hrspwrfiend .........

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Haines, AK
    Haines Brewing makes some DELICIOUS beer.
    #17
  18. AlaskanMudder

    AlaskanMudder not AKMUD

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    115
    Heres a fun place to go because no matter where you go, you will pass through Haines Junction. From Alaska, you come to the T in the road. Left at the T, and the first left road you can take, take it. go to the end (I think) of the road and on the left at the T, the builidng in the trees is a fun little hippy bakery.

    It has some fantastic food, prices are on the spendy side, but worth it! You might see some cardboard signs pointing toward the bakery if you are lucky.

    I got a number of things, including some Quinoa squares, similar to rice crispy treats, quiche, and a number of other yummy things. Made for a great dinner when we got to Takhini hot springs out of Whitehorse.
    #18
  19. AK650

    AK650 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    Oddometer:
    683
    Location:
    Alaska
    Haines, for two very good reasons. Not in any order.

    1. Mosey's Cantina. Some of the best Mexican food to be found.

    2. Haines Brewing Co. Some of the best brews to be found. The Spruce Tip Ale is unreal!

    OK, a few more reasons.

    Nice people.

    The town isn't shuttered up with plywood after tourist season....people actually live there year round!

    The stretch of road from Haines Junction, to Haines, is a fantastic ride.

    Jeff
    #19
  20. Solarmoose

    Solarmoose electric

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    804
    Location:
    Fairbanks

    +1 on the road from Haines Junction to Haines! Good pavement, incredible
    scenery, fast sweeping curves, virtually no traffic early in the morning and
    no Mounties :lol3
    #20