Haines gets me.

Maybe it’s because I love a good story, and Haines is full of them.

Or it could be the people: good humored, resilient, and eccentric folk who go about their business all the while making outsiders feel right at home. Remote? Yes, so much so that if you’re pregnant, you’re encouraged to take the ferry or fly to Juneau three to four weeks prior to your due date in order to give birth at the “nearest” hospital. It’s rumored that one mother delivered her baby in a Cessna mid-air, leaving the birth certificate’s “place of birth” space with a question mark. Even so, Haines is on the road system. You can drive there on a two-day jaunt from Anchorage crossing Canada through small towns and vast wilderness. Or, you can do what I’m planning on my next trip there: take a couple of weeks and RV from the Lower 48 through some of North America’s most stunning parks: Glacier, Banff, and Jasper, before routing west toward Haines Junction and dropping south to arrive in time for a pint at Haines Brewing Company downtown. The journey to Haines provides enough stories of its own—some tall tales to be sure, but none as colorful as the ones you’ll hear once you get there.

Wooden sign suspended between totem poles says Welcome to Haines
An iconic Haines sign. Photo by Michelle Theall
Woman in blue shirt lets a raptor sit on a gloved hand. She's standing outdoors and appears to be talking.
Sidney Campbell, the raptor program manager at the Bald Eagle Foundation in downtown Haines, allows guests to learn about resident and rehabilitated birds in her care. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Abandoned and dilapidated shell of a wooden cabin deteriorates in the woods. Sign on the front of the building says Honeymoon Hotel
A few whimsical displays off the Haines Highway. It’s rumored that several weddings have actually taken place in front of the Honeymoon Hotel. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Three eggs are on display on a glass shelf. Largest is a Trumpeter Swan Egg. Golden Eagle egg has spots, and is similar in size to a Bald Eagle Egg that is pure white
The Bald Eagle Foundation’s numerous interior exhibits show the differences between all types of avian egg sizes and shapes, incubation periods, wing spans, feather patterns, and more. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Close on fresh snow indented with the pattern of feathers on the tip of a wing
A wing print left in fresh snow after a skirmish between two birds. Photo by Michelle Theall
River meanders through snow-covered landscape. One eagle flies above the river, while many other eagles dot the bare branches of trees lining the river
Haines earns the moniker the Valley of Eagles with a thousand or so of the raptors living in the protected area of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. The eagles are drawn to the area by its abundant supply of all five species of salmon, including a winter run resulting in battles between the eagles over remains of the season. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Bearded man standing behind wooden bar holds up a dark pint and smiles
Despite the small size of the town, Haines remains dedicated to raising the spirits of its community with its award-winning Haines Brewing Company and Port Chilkoot Distillery. Here, Haines Brewing Company owner Paul Wheeler serves up a pint to a guest.
Small laundromat in warehouse-looking building
The coin-operated laundromat features requisite moose rack, along with flags representing the proximity to the Canadian border. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Store fronts that appear like old West buildings along a boardwalk
The set from the movie White Fang displays gold rush era buildings at the Haines Fairgrounds. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Man stands in the corner of a room with white walls that are covered with displays of different hammers.
Eclectic homage to the all-purpose hammer. A tool with no equal deserves its own museum, and Haines is the place for revering it. Photo by Michelle Theall.
A moose antler with bite marks is scribbled with a message in marker that reads, Wild Grizzly bit off pieces of this antler like it was eating a potato chip until person said "shoo - get lost!"
An antler nailed to one of the outbuildings at The Kroschel Wildlife Center. Wild bears remain a tremendous threat to the captive, orphaned animals Steve Kroschel cares for at his tourist and educational property out the road 30 miles or so from town. Photo by Michelle Theall.
Moose sticks its head through a space in a wooden fence and eats a carrot from the hand of a woman in a black jacket. Woman pets the moose with her other hand.
Karen, the moose, with the author several years ago at The Kroschel Wildlife Center. Last summer, Steve Kroschel lost his beloved moose to a grizzly. The moose had been a favorite with visitors who often fed carrots to her while kissing her muzzle, an act that truly emphasized to guests the enormous size of the animal. Photo by Michelle Theall.

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