On quiet, maneuverable jet boats, you’ll see hanging glaciers, towering mountains, open valleys, and peaceful lakes. You’ll also witness some of the best moose and eagle habitats in Southeast Alaska. In over 25 years of operation, the owners Karen and Duck Hess have perfected the trip; you’ll find Warm, comfortable gear, a heated lunch pavilion, and informative, entertaining narration.
When the Hesses started River Adventures in 1991, they wanted to show travelers the wilderness surrounding their hometown of Haines. And there was no better wild spot than the roadless upper reaches of the Chilkat River Bald Eagle Preserve.
Where the Road Ends, Your Adventure Begins
The Bald Eagle Preserve is definitely a highlight of this trip. Home to the largest congregation of bald eagles in the world each fall, the preserve also includes several rivers that have prolific salmon runs. Much of the preserve is accessible by the Haines Highway, which you’ll travel en route to River Adventures’ riverside facility. But there’s no road where River Adventures takes you, so you’ll explore a remote, wilderness area. Where the road ends, your adventure begins. Scan for bald eagles or bear, snap photos of moose, or look for spawning salmon in the crystal clear tributaries of the Chilkat River. The Hesses see moose on nearly 80 percent of their trips, and rarely go without spotting eagles!
Years of Experience
Few people know this upper river area like Duck Hess, who’s been exploring it since his youth. He still runs the river and personally trains the handful of captains they employ. So your captain will know the best place to look for moose, or which lake might have fish in it. And they’re skilled at navigating the shallow, silty waters of the Chilkat, so they know when they can cut the engine and drift quietly while you take in the scenery.
Scenic Byway, Jet Boat Adventure & A Riverside Lunch
The tour includes a 30-minute narrated bus ride up the Haines Highway, which was recently designated one of America's Scenic Byway's, to the company’s riverside base, where you’ll meet the captains. You’ll be outfitted with waterproof, windproof jackets; earmuffs; gloves; and lap blankets. Then you’ll spend 1 hour 45 minutes on the river, in special shallow-draft, flat-bottom riverboats equipped with 4-stroke outboard jet engines. The engines are quiet, and there are Bose speakers in the back of each seat, so you’ll be able to hear your captain’s narration while you take in the natural beauty.