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Old 06-04-2013, 01:38 PM   #1
HayDuchessLives OP
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Haines vs. Skagway

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!

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.

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!
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Old 06-04-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
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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

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Old 06-04-2013, 04:58 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:37 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmholio View Post
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.
Does Skagway have a Mountain Market equivalent? I love that place. Yeah, I'm a "tree hugg'n granola." Free wifi at the library in Haines too.

Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:38 PM   #6
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Skagway is very touristy in the summer. Some good restaurants and bars, but also too many painfully white legs sporting black socks and sandals.
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:02 PM   #7
Farmholio
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[QUOTE=AKDuc;21568582]Does Skagway have a Mountain Market equivalent? I love that place. Yeah, I'm a "tree hugg'n granola." Free wifi at the library in Haines too.

Not that I'm aware of but I've only been over a few times. They do have a couple of bakeries that do a bang up job for that same niche, just minus the organic fruits and vegetables. Interestingly enough, they serve mountain market coffee.

Skagway Brewing has excellent food and beverage that I can vouch for. Our sources over there also have told us of a great Thai place and also of a decent pizza joint. If you are too lazy to leave the main drag (Broadway by the boat harbor), yes, you will find an abundance of jewelry stores and crappy t-shirt shops, not all that unlike 4th avenue in Anchorage.

Like I said, if its not your dollar, you have more and better options in Skagway than in Haines. If it is your dollar, there are more rustic accommodations to be had here.

About three weeks ago, we stayed at Seargent Preston's Inn (about a block from the Brewery on the north end of town) and paid maybe 120 bucks for a room. It was expectedly spendy and extremely quirky just like anything else in the region. I would be surprised if you would do appreciably better with respect to price or quirk on this end of Lynn Canal.
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:36 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HayDuchessLives View Post
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.
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.

Quote:
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I'm sure AlcanRider will have some smart-alec concerns about whether or not the KLR will survive riding with me.
Now hold on there! 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...
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Old 06-07-2013, 07:53 AM   #10
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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.

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.
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Old 06-12-2013, 12:32 PM   #11
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Haines

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.
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:08 PM   #12
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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.. maybe I could "dance for farkles" in a saloon in Skagway. I would have a whole new crowd to perform for!
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:14 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 06-12-2013, 04:55 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:38 AM   #15
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That's at Destruction Bay. Those sneaky Mounties....
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