With bald eagles, bears, and gorgeous scenery, these tours out of Haines offer an up-close nature experience with insights from knowledgeable local guides. There are two options. The first tour is a wildlife tour that focuses on finding and learning about wildlife. The second one is a photography tour where you take pictures to share back at home, and get the chance to enhance your photography skills—just when you can benefit from it most.
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.
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.
You can choose from the Chilkoot Lake Nature and Bear Viewing tour, or a photography tour based in Haines. 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.
Haines Through a Photographer’s Lens
The photography tours, meanwhile, take place in 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.
Ghost Towns, Waterfalls, and Bald Eagles
In Skagway, you might go to the White Pass summit when conditions are favorable, or stay along the coast to the ghost town of Dyea; on this tour the main photo ops revolve around sweeping landscapes (especially on the White Pass) and gorgeous waterfalls. In Haines, meanwhile, you’ll go either to Chilkat State Park or Chilkoot Lake, where waterfalls, wildflowers, bald eagles, and bears steal the show.
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 tours: 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.