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The Forecast is Summersalt’s global content hub for all things travel, packing, style, and discovery, packed with informative and inspirational pieces for (and featuring!) women who are going places.

UNPACKED: Haines, Alaska


Stylist and Creative Consultant Laura K. Sawyier may spend most of her time working with high fashion brands and clients, but she knows a thing or two about trading in her heels for boots and swapping the streets of New York for the vast Alaskan wilderness. (You. Go. Girl.) Check out her insider tips for the best (and safest) ways to admire majestic grizzly bears, what Alaskan tourist activity is totally worth the hype, and where to go for a “deliciously dangerous” shot of apple pie liquor.

Tell us about a standout memory in Haines.

The fondest memory I have of Haines comes from our last day on the first trip I took there…we drove about 5 miles north on the Lutak inlet up to the Chilkoot Lake. This area is known to have a fair amount of bear sightings. We parked on the road and started walking toward the lake, along the Chilkoot River. Just across the water, we spotted a mother grizzly bear with a small cub, fishing along the crest. They meandered for an hour up stream, as we followed opposite the water (from a safe distance.) It had been an hour of watching them sway in and out of the water and tree line when my family suggested we head out. I insisted that we wait another moment, I felt the bears would pop out on this clearing in a shallow part of the water. Sure enough, they did and I snapped an incredible photo with the cub looking right at me. It was so magical to watch these mesmerizing animals in the wild. I’ll never forget it.

How much time is enough time to spend there?

10-14 days is ideal. From the lower 48, it takes nearly a full day to get to Southeast Alaska during the high season (longer in the winter.) Once you’re up there, you can hop on a prop plane at the nearest airport and jump around the region.

What keeps you coming back?

Unplugging. The fresh air and adventure. Hiking, mountains, glaciers, animals, and of course, family. I was raised in NY, but my parents now call Haines, AK home. When my husband and I want a dose of family coupled with the great outdoors, we head north.

Tell us something only a local would know.

Haines is one of the world’s foremost desirable places to heli ski, and it’s been host to world heli skiing competitions. I guess that that’s not something only the locals know, but it’s good to know if that piques your interest during the winter months. And to warm you up after being on the open terrain, The Fogcutter serves apple pie shots and they refuse to share the secret recipes with locals.

Give us your insider tips on how to dress for the climate:

Wear plenty of layers and keep your feet nice and toasty with proper gripping on the soles of your shoes. Almost everything I pack is water resistant and has a form of insulation. You’ll also want to protect against the mosquitos in the summertime—look for mesh insulated clothing that keeps the bugs away.


Name a tourist activity that’s totally worth it!

Helicopter landing on a glacier and flying over Davidson and Rainbow Glacier on your flight up to Haines from Juneau.

Any opportunity you have to explore the great outdoors in different ways, definitely do it.

Best place to people watch:

Ferry terminal, downtown. Haines monitors the number of cruise ships that dock in town, being that the Lutak inlet is the route to Skagway (a big tourist town.) Every few days in season the smaller boats dock and groups of tourists descend on the town to engage in their excursion of choice; kayaking, bike riding, hiking, and beyond.

Name a restaurant that nobody knows about but they should, and one that’s worth the hype:

The Alpenglow has some of the best pizza and beers.

Best place to have a moment of peace:

In the woods on a peaceful hike. Head to Moose Meadows for a marked trail that leads you out to the Chilkat River and you arrive on the beach staring at Rainbow Glacier. But be mindful of bears in season and travel in groups of 3-4 or more with the proper gear.

What’s worth the splurge?

Excursions! Any opportunity you have to explore the great outdoors in different ways, definitely do it. Whether a plane or helicopter ride, or kayaking, there are so many ways you can simply enjoy nature and the breathtaking views all around.

Best place to get a nightcap:

The Fogcutter. Those apple pie shots are deliciously dangerous.

As a local, what do you hope people visiting Haines discover about it?

The natural beauty of the region and the preservation of our beautiful planet.