With bald eagles, bears, and gorgeous scenery, as well as fascinating culture and history, these tours out of Skagway and Haines offer an up-close experience with insights from knowledgeable local guides. There are several options, including wildlife tour that focuses on finding and learning about wildlife, a photography tour where you get the chance to enhance your photography skills, and some fun sightseeing tours exploring Haines and Skagway.
An Artistic Beginning
Rainbow Glacier Adventures was founded by guide and photographer Joe Ordonez, who first arrived in Haines in 1986 as a naturalist aboard a small expedition ship. He decided to stay for good in 1987, to manage a local rafting company; in 1992, he founded Rainbow Glacier Adventures, to conduct small group visits to local artists’ homes. Over the years, he diversified the tour offerings—like mellow kayaking and rafting tours—as well as tours that focus on the tour’s vivid wildlife viewing.
Expertise in Haines
No doubt, Joe is an ideal guide for a tour like this, since he has published a photography book himself: Where Eagles Gather, the Story of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Aside from Joe himself, the knowledgeable guides all share a passion for the history and beauty of Haines. They are an eclectic mix: some are retired, and many are longtime, year-round residents of Haines.
Joe’s tours of Haines are also available from Skagway. The tours begin with a 45 minute Fast Ferry journey along the fjord connecting Haines to Skagway. You can choose from the Chilkoot Lake Nature and Bear Viewing tour or a photography tour. All of the tours are designed for small groups; they use vans or small buses to get you around the area, so you can see both dramatic landscapes and the creatures that live here. The wildlife viewing tours focus primarily on bald eagles and, beginning in August, brown-bear viewing.
The Haines Photography tour explores the dramatic scenery and wildlife around Haines. Guides stay flexible on the photography tours, going where the best light (and weather) is, as well as the best chance of seeing wildlife, depending on the group, time of day, and season. If you’re an expert photographer yourself, you’ll appreciate the care that the guides have taken to scout out the best locations. And if you’re an amateur shutterbug, you’ll get great tips on upping your photography skills. Either way, you’ll get an educational look at their area from a real insider.
In November, the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve boasts the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. Joe and his guides continue to lead photography tours in the Haines area on a private basis. If you are interested in a multiple-day stay, Joe has several cabins (Swan View Cabins) for rent right in the heart of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve,
Yukon Suspension Bridge and White Pass Summit
In Skagway, the Summit and Suspension Bridge tour take you to the White Pass summit and includes admission to the Yukon Suspension Bridge, where you look down upon the swirling waters of the whirlpools and rapids of the Tutshi river.
A Parting Gift That Pays Dividends
Guests who take these trips like the small, personable size—14 guests maximum per group, depending on the tour—as well as the mellow, unrushed pace. They are also struck by the high quality of the guides, and the authentic, unscripted ambience.
You also get a bonus with the photography tour : Not only do you get a visual feast, but the guides will help you take your photography skills to the next level—a souvenir that will enrich the rest of your vacation, and other vacations to come.