Story last updated at 10/28/2009 - 12:18 pm
HAINES - The Haines Highway recently received national recognition as one of America's new National Scenic Byways.
The Haines Highway connects the Inside Passage community of Haines with Haines Junction in the Yukon Territory. The highway is 152 miles long (about 40 miles from Haines to the U.S./Canada border) and runs through the Chilkat River and the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve with its prime eagle roosting habitat and feeding grounds. The village of Klukwan is located 21 miles up the Haines Highway.
The highway was built by the U.S. Army in 1943 as an alternate route from the Pacific Ocean to the Alaska Highway, in case the White Pass and Yukon Route railway from Skagway became blocked. In the late 1880's, miners used the highway as a trail to reach the Klondike goldfields.
"This is also great news for anyone who enjoys the scenic beauty around Haines, where it is common to view hundreds of eagles roosting in the cottonwoods along the Haines Highway between October and January," said Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Commissioner Leo von Scheben.
The National Scenic Byways program was created by Congress in 1991. Under the program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads for their outstanding qualities. Including the 42 recent additions to the program, 151 roads in 46 states have now received designations.
The Haines Highway is part of the Golden Circle Route, which continues from Haines Junction to Whitehorse and back down to Skagway, and includes the ferry trip between Skagway and Haines.
Several annual events take place along the Haines Highway, including the following:
The "Ride Yukon" motorcycle event circles the Golden Circle route. Details can be found at http://www.rideyukon.com/.
The annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay follows the Haines Highway from Haines Junction to Haines. Start planning for the 2010 race at http://www.kcibr.org/.
The Haines Bald Eagle Festival, celebrating the world's largest gathering of bald eagles in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, will take place Nov. 11-15. Learn more at http://baldeaglefestival.org/.