The Haines Road borders a World Heritage Site comprised of four parks that offer spectacular views of alpine lakes and mountains and a complex of glaciers on both sides of the Canada /United States border. This is the world largest protected space - approximately 8.5 million hectares!
Hike from the Haines Road into Kluane National Park and Reserve to get a peak at the world's largest non-polar icefield. Licensed guides are available for day or overnight trips or take an interpreted hike. Stop at the Kluane National Park and Haines Junction Visitor Centre for more information.
Tatshenshini-Alsek Park has about half of British Columbia's population of Dall sheep. The blue-grey glacier bear, of the black bear family, is found nowhere else in Canada. Stop at the Chuck Creek pullout on the Haines Road for a relatively easy hike into the toe of a glacier.
The marine and forest wilderness of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is accessible by boat or air taxi. Check at the Visitor Centre in Haines, Alaska for more information. Glaciers in this park are remnants of the Little Ice Age that began about 4,000 years ago. When Captain George Vancouver explored the region in 1794, the present bay was under a 1,200 metre thick glacier.
The Chugach, Wrangell, and St. Elias mountain ranges converge in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the "mountain kingdom of North America". Mount St. Elias (5,489 metres) is the second highest peak in the United States.
Connecting to the Coast
The Haines Road was designed and constructed during World War II to provide another transportation route from the ocean ports. The narrow gauge White Pass & Yukon Route railway was working around the clock and struggling to deliver even essential supplies from Skagway for the Alaska Highway. United States Engineers started to build the road from Haines Junction in March 1943 and they linked up with the Public Roads Administration contractors on August 1 near the Chilkat Pass.
The Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers were a traditional travel route for the interior Southern Tutchone and coastal Tlingit speaking people but a system of trails also connected villages along the rivers. The Haines Road follows a traditional overland route from Klukshu to the coast. Above Klukshu the trail veered to the east of Dezadeash Lake and crossed through present day Champagne via the Dezadeash River.
Jack Dalton used and improved traditional First Nation routes in the 1890s as part of his pack train route into the interior from Pyramid Harbor on the Alaskan coast. During the Klondike Gold Rush, cattle were driven along the trail to the Yukon River near present day Carmacks. Dalton built trading posts at Pleasant Camp, now the Yukon Alaska border crossing, and at Shawshe/Dalton Post on the Tatshenshini River.