Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Mount Riley Trail Haines

Southeast Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list! I have traveled to this beautiful region three times now, and each visit has blown me away. Whether you’re into hiking, cultural sights, national parks, food, or wildlife, there really is something for any type of visitor to enjoy. Ready to start planning your trip? I’ve got you covered! In this article, I am sharing an EPIC 6 day Southeast Alaska Itinerary, plus planning tips and more!

Disclaimer: This blog post is in collaboration with Visit Southeast Alaska. Some parts of the article also feature affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you make a purchase (at no extra cost to you). It’s one of the ways I can keep producing free guides and resources for my readers. Learn more about my affiliate policy here. Thank you for the support!

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary

I’ve explored Southeast Alaska a few different ways in the past. My first visit was on a week-long Inside Passage cruise traveling to and from Seattle (summer 2012). The cruise visited Vancouver Island, Ketichan, Juneau, Glacier Bay, and Skagway.

My second visit to Southeast Alaska was during my 2017 national parks road trip and I enjoyed exploring Glacier Bay National Park on foot as well as by smaller boat.

Now to my third and most recent visit to Southeast Alaska – a 6 day itinerary exploring Sitka, Prince of Wales Island, Juneau, and Haines. I traveled with my husband and we opted to travel during the week of August 16 – 21, 2021. It turned out to be an incredible trip!

You might be wondering which trip was my favorite? They all had numerous pros and cons but I do think this most recent trip was my favorite due to a few reasons. The first being that I much preferred land and plane travel in comparison to being on a massive cruise ship.

I know some people love cruising, but I personally prefer to travel more on my own schedule these days. It was also nice to be able to support local people by booking accommodation and tours with smaller businesses.

Before we jump into this Southeast Alaska itinerary, I first want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands we visited. During this trip, we were exploring the ancestral lands of the Tlingit people.

Aani, the region of Southeast Alaska, is also home to Haida people (from Haida Gwaii, an archipelago just off the coast of British Columbia), but we only visited Tlingit lands during this trip.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Sitka Harbor

Day 1 – Sitka

Day 1 began with a morning flight out of Seattle that flew direct to Sitka, taking approximately 2 hours. It was a beautiful flight into Sitka, so make sure to snag a window seat! We picked up a rental car at Sitka Airport, but you could definitely get around the city via taxi if you don’t plan to venture far.

Stop 1 – lunch at Mean Queen

We stopped by Mean Queen for some delicious pizza. My husband and I split the Imperial Pie and had zero regrets. Ask for a table by the window for beautiful water views.

Mean Queen location: 205 Harbor Dr, Sitka, AK 99835. Get directions on Google Maps

Sitka National Historical Park
Stop 2 – Sitka National Historical Park

Next up we explored Sitka National Historical Park, which is on Crescent Bay and a few minutes southeast of downtown Sitka. We enjoyed walking around the Totem Trail and learned a lot about Tlingit culture in the process.

During our walk, we also saw numerous watching bald eagles and plenty of spawning fish. We took a self-guided walk but there are also ranger-led walks available.

Sitka National Historical Park location: 103 Monastery St, Sitka, AK 99835. Get directions on Google Maps

Tours that might interest you in the Sitka area:

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Harbor Mountain Trail Sitka
Stop 3 – Harbor Mountain Trail

We opted to hike one of Sitka’s most beautiful trails for sunset, the Harbor Mountain Trail. You could do this during the day instead of for sunset, or you could also opt to visit the Harbor Mountain picnic area and watch the sunset, rather than hiking.

I recommend bringing bear spray if possible (we bought ours in town at Russell’s) as there are black bears in the Sitka area. Read my hiking bear safety guide for tips on staying safe in bear country.

Keep in mind that the Harbor Mountain Trail is accessible from a couple of different spots and is also often called the Gavin Hill Harbor Mountain Trail. We opted to hike the trail from the trailhead on forest service road NF-7576 (also known as Harbor Mountain Road) and traveled out and back across Harbor Mountain Ridge to the Gavan Hill Hut. In total, the hike was just under 5 miles roundtrip and about 1000 feet of elevation gain. Check out this guide for information on hiking the entire trail.

Guided tour option: Debi, a Sitka local, offers guided hiking tours in the area. Click here for more information.

Harbor Mountain Trailhead location: The trailhead/parking lot is at the end of forest service road NF-7576 (also known as Harbor Mountain Road), north of downtown Sitka. This is a gravel road but does not require 4×4 or high clearance. Get directions on Google Maps

Sitka Accomodation

We stayed the night at the Totem Square Hotel & Marina. It wasn’t super fancy but it was clean, comfortable, and centrally located. Click here to book the Totem Square Hotel & Marina

Totem Square Hotel location: 201 Katlian St, Sitka, AK 99835. Get directions on Google Maps

More Sitka accommodation options:

Prince of Wales Wildlife Tour - Seal

Day 2 – Prince of Wales Island

Day 2 of our Southeast Alaska itinerary saw us start in Sitka and end on beautiful Prince of Wales Island. Sitka is a relatively small town (population of 8,640) but our next destinations, Klawock and Craig, are even smaller! Klawock has just 831 residents and Craig has 1,189.

We really loved the small-town vibes but I would recommend downloading offline maps before you get there as we didn’t have any phone service with our Verizon plans.

Stop 1 – Fish Eye Coffee

We started our day bright and early with some delicious drinks from Fish Eye Coffee. I highly recommend the Island latte and my husband loved his Lavender Caramel latte. This is a drive-up coffee shop but you can also walk up and order.

Fish Eye Coffee location: 607 Halibut Point Rd, Sitka, AK 99835. Get directions n Google Maps.

Stop 2 – Fly to Klawock

Next up we took an early morning flight to Klawock, located on Prince of Wales Island. We flew with Alaska Seaplanes and the journey took about 1 hour. Sadly it was cloudy so we didn’t get many views, but I hear this flight can be breathtaking!

Tlingit Traditional Song Prince of Wales Island
Stop 3 – Explore some Local Businesses

We picked up a rental car upon arrival at Klawock Airport. The company we used was DJ’s Hollis Adventure Rental and the car was there waiting for us when we landed. Next up we stopped by some local businesses on our way through to the town of Craig.

First up we met Kathy of Taat’s Arts & Design. She graciously sang us some traditional Tlingit songs and shared the stories behind her beautiful artwork and designs. Afterward, we stopped by Wildfish Cannery to meet the team and learn about how they create their products. and of course, we had to buy some to take home!

Stop 4 – Lunch at Annie Betty’s Bakery Cafe

We drove about 15 minutes south to the town of Craig and were ready to grab something to eat. There isn’t a huge selection of restaurants/cafes to choose from in Craig but we did find a cute cafe that had great food – Annie Betty’s Bakery Cafe. I recommend the veggie panini, cookies, and the lavender caramel latte.

Annie Betty’s Bakery Cafe location: 302 Thompson Rd, Craig, AK 9992. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Conoe Point Waterfall Hike on Prince of Wales Island
Stop 5 – Boat Tour and Waterfall Hike

Next up was the highlight of our day – an amazing boat tour with Emerald Island Adventures! We met the owner Stephanie at North Cove Harbor and boarded the Luna Sea, her 21′ aluminum landing craft.

She took us out for the afternoon and catered the tour to what we wanted to see (I think it was technically the Whales and Waterfall tour). We saw black bears, eagles, sea otters, seals, sea lions, humpback whales, and spawning salmon.

The best part of the tour was landing at Canoe Point and taking a short hike to the Canoe Point Waterfall. The 130-foot waterfall was surrounded by lush forest and dramatic basalt columns. It blew us away and definitely exceeded any expectations we had for our afternoon adventure!

Emerald Island Adventures location: 33 North Cove Harbor, Craig, AK 99921. Get directions on Google Maps.

Prince of Wales Accomodation

We stayed in Craig in one of Aimee’s Cabin Rentals, specifically the ‘Blue Cabin’. It was really cozy and even had its own kitchen. The only downside is that there wasn’t any WiFi, which is probably not an issue for most visitors.

Aimee’s Cabin Rentals location: 501 Main St, Craig, AK 99921. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Foggy Trees

Day 3 – Juneau

Day 3 of our Southeast Alaska trip involved traveling from Prince of Wales Island to Juneau. We started our day with breakfast back at Annie Betty’s Bakery Cafe before making our way to the airport.

Stop 1 – Travel to Juneau

We took an early flight out of Klawock with Alaska Seaplanes and the journey to Juneau took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Upon landing in Juneau we picked up a rental car from the airport, checked into our hotel, and set off to explore! Click here to search for a rental car in Juneau.

Stop 2 – Lunch aT Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos

Our stomachs were rumbling and lunch was well and truly in order when we arrived in Juneau! We had heard amazing things about Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos and needed to try it for ourselves. We ordered the fish and chips and a fish taco trio – it was all so fresh and delicious!

Deckhand Dave’s location: 139 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801. Get directions on Google Maps.

Mendenhall Glacier Juneau
Stop 3 – Explore Mendenhall Glacier

Next up it was time to explore the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier! We were experiencing a very rainy day and visibility was poor, but luckily we had seen the glacier in all its glory on a previous visit to Juneau. If you don’t have a rental car then you can use this shuttle service.

This visit was still enjoyable despite the rain! We spent some time exploring the Visitor Center, walking to Nugget Falls, and watching salmon spawning along Steep Creek (just near the parking lot). You can often view bears at Steep Creek but we didn’t see any during our visit.

Note that there is a $5 per person entrance fee to visit Mendenhall Glacier, payable at ticket machines on arrival (they take card).

Mendenhall Glacier location: 6000 Glacier Spur Rd, Juneau, AK 99801. Get directions on Google Maps.

Tour options for exploring Mendenhall Glacier:

Eagle Beach Juneau Bald Eagle Photography
Stop 4 – Eagle Beach State Recreation Area

After exploring the Mendenhall Glacier we opted to drive about 30 minutes to Eagle Beach State Recreation Area. This area is known for wildlife viewing and beautiful views of the Eagle River, Lynn Canal, Chilkat Mountains, and the Juneau Mountains.

You can park in a few different pullovers and parking lots and I recommend checking out both Eagle Beach itself and also the parking lot just before that. From there you can walk to a small bridge where bears are often spotted fishing for salmon (we saw two black bears!) The GPS coordinates are 58.5260845, -134.8148374.

Eagle Beach location: Tongass National Forest, 28955 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, AK 99801. Get directions on Google Maps.

Other Juneau wildlife tour options:

Stop 5 – Dinner at Hangar On The Wharf

We enjoyed a relaxed dinner at The Hangar On The Wharf. The views here would be spectacular during the day and I hear you can often spot whales!

Hangar On The Wharf location: 2 Marine Way Ste 106, Juneau, AK 99801. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Silverbow Inn Juneau
Juneau Accomodation

We opted to stay at the Silverbow Inn Hotel and Suites, located in downtown Juneau. It was in an amazing location, the staff were all super friendly, and our bed was the comfiest of the trip. I would definitely stay here again! Click here to book your stay at the Silverbow Inn.

Silverbow Inn location: 120 2nd St, Juneau, AK 99801. Get directions on Google Maps.

The Rookery Cafe Juneau

Day 4 – Haines

Day 4 of our Southeast Alaska itinerary began in beautiful Juneau and ended in the small town of Haines. Haines was the final destination on our Southeast Alaska trip and where we opted to spend the most time.

Stop 1 – The Rookery cafe

Our first stop of the day was breakfast at The Rookery Cafe. We really enjoyed the food here and love the aesthetic vibes inside. Matt ordered the french toast and I had the avocado toast – both were delicious!

Rookery Cafe location: 120 2nd St, Juneau, AK 99801. Get directions on Google Maps.

Stop 2 – Fly to Haines

Then it was time to fly to our next Southeast Alaska destination, Haines! We departed from Juneau International Airport (JNU) and flew with Alaska Seaplanes direct to Haines. The flight was only about 35-40 minutes from memory and the views were spectacular! Glaciers galore.

Our rental car was waiting at the airport on our arrival in Haines. It was booked through Lynn View Lodge Car Rentals.

Sarah Js Espresso Shoppe Haines
Stop 3 – Lunch at Sarah J’s Espresso Shoppe

We were ready for lunch by this point and decided to check out a highly rated cafe in downtown Haines, Sarah J’s Espresso Shoppe. We ordered some delicious coffee and veggie burritos. They even offered us free ice cream!

Sarah J’s location: 132 2nd Ave, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Haines Sheldon Museum
Stop 4 – Haines Sheldon Museum

Next up we visited the Haines Sheldon Museum to get acquainted with the Chilkat Valley’s history. There were various displays to look at and we learned a lot about not only Haines but also the surrounded areas, Tlingit culture, and local artists.

Haines Sheldon Museum location: 11 Main St, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Looking for a guided tour to learn more about the Chilkat Valley? Check out this Cultural Heritage Half-Day Tour.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Port Chilkool Distillery Haines
Stop 5 – Port Chilkoot Distillery

My husband and I both enjoy a good cocktail, particularly anything with whiskey in it. So of course we had to check out Port Chilkoot Distillery!

The Port Chilkoot Distillery team craft their spirits in small batches onsite in Haines. They craft gin, bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka, and absinthe. We really enjoyed their cocktails and will definitely be ordering some of their bourbon and rye whiskey for home!

We ended up getting takeout for dinner from a cool food truck parked next to the distillery. It’s called Camino and was probably one of our favorite meals of the trip! Both the fish and chips and the falafel wrap were incredible.

Port Chilkoot Distillery location: 34 Blacksmith St, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Chilkat Inlet Mountains
Stop 6 – Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

To end the day, we decided to drive up the Haines Highway to watch the sunset and also do some wildlife spotting. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is situated between miles 8 through 31 on the Haines Highway and there are four main viewing pullouts between miles 18 and 21.

This area and is home to the world’s largest concentration of bald eagles and the Preserve in total consists of 48,000 acres of protected lands. You can simply drive along the Haines Highway looking out for eagles, or you can stop at various viewpoints. We also opted to walk along the river for a little while to watch the sunset.

Be sure to stay within the designated areas to prevent stressful conditions for the eagles. They need their space to roost and feed.

Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve location: Haines Hwy, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Bald eagle viewing tour options from Haines:

Chilkat Inlet Retreat Yurts Haines
Haines Accomodation

We stayed in the cutest accommodation during our visit to Haines! Only 8 minutes out from downtown Haines is Chilkat Inlet Retreat and they have numerous yurts that visitors can rent for one or multiple nights. Our yurt was a short walk from the stunning Chilkat Inlet and we also got to sleep to the sound of a running creek every night.

At Chilkat Inlet Retreat, guests have access to their own heated yurt, as well as a shared lodge building that has a full kitchen, a large seating area, and wifi. Visitors also have access to the property’s beach which boasts endless mountain and ocean views.

Book your stay: Chilkat Inlet Retreat Yurts, from $100/night for 2 people

Chilkat Inlet Retreat location: 4 mile, Mud Bay Rd, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Rusty Compass Coffeehouse in Haines

Day 5 – Haines

Day 5 was our last full day in Southeast Alaska so we did our best to make the most of it! We ended up hiking a mountain summit, watched brown bears fish for spawning salmon, foraged for mushrooms, and ate some delicious food.

Stop 1 – Rusty Compass Coffeehouse

We started our day with a yummy breakfast from Rusty Compass Coffeehouse. I highly recommend their Creme Brule Latte!

Rusty Compass location: 116 Main St, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Brown Bear in Chilkoot Lake Recreation Area Haines
Stop 2 – Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area

Next up we headed to Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area. This was a 16-minute drive from Haines and the views were incredible! Definitely take advantage of any pullouts along the way and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. We saw countless bald eagles on our drive.

Be sure to stop by the park weir to see if any bears are out fishing (GPS coordinates). We saw two different brown bears fishing, one female and one male. Remember to keep your distance, carry bear spray, and only park your car in designated areas.

Next, we headed down to Chilkoot Lake and spent some time walking around the lakeshore and river. We foraged for mushrooms with some nice locals we met and overall we were blown away by the area’s spectacular views.

Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area Location: 10 Mile, Lutak Rd, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps.

Bear viewing and photography tours from Haines:

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Mount Riley Trail Haines
Stop 3 – Hike Mount Riley

We decided to spend the rest of our day hiking Mount Riley, one of Haines’ most loved trails. The Mount Riley Trail traverses through lush forest and eventually brings you up a summit with 360-degree views.

The hike totals 5 miles roundtrip and around 1700 feet of elevation gain, so make sure to pack some snacks and plenty of water. Click here to check out my hiking guides, including what to wear, the best hiking shoes, and more.

Remember to be bear aware when hiking in Alaska. Read my guide on hiking bear safety precautions. I also recommend downloading an offline trail map for this hike to ensure you don’t get lost. My preferred method is via the Gaia GPS App and you can click here to get 20% off a premium membership.

Guided tour option: Full-day Mount Riley Hike from Haines

Mount Riley Trailhead Location: 59°11’45.3″N 135°25’13.3″W, Mud Bay Road, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps

Want to do more hiking in the Haines area? Check out this nearby Full-Day Chilkat Inlet Coastal Hike from Haines

Stop 4 – Dinner At Alpenglow Pizza

We were HUNGRY after hiking haha, so pizza for dinner was in order! Alpenglow had come recommended to us and it did not disappoint. We loved the “Fun-Gi” pizza!

Alpenglow Location: 214 Main St, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps

Chilkoot Lake Kayaking in Haines

Day 6 – Haines and return home

Our final day exploring Southeast Alaska! Luckily we had an afternoon flight so could make the most of our morning before heading back to Seattle.

Stop 1 – Chilkoot Lake Kayaking Tour

The highlight of our last day (and maybe of the whole trip!) was kayaking on Chilkoot Lake. We took a guided tour with Rainbow Glacier Adventures and saw incredible views of the lake and surrounding mountain peaks. We also got to paddle close by some salmon spawning streams and spotted multiple bald eagles along the shore.

Suggested tour: Guided Chilkoot Lake Kayaking with Rainbow Glacier Adventures

Chilkoot Lake Location: Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site – 10 Mile, Lutak Rd, Haines, AK 99827. Get directions on Google Maps

Water-based tour options in Haines:

Stop 2 – Fly to Juneau and Then Home

Then it was sadly time to leave! We flew from Haines to Juneau with Alaska Seaplanes and then caught an Alaska Air flight back to Seattle.


Southeast Alaska Itinerary Map

To make following this Southeast Alaska itinerary a little easier, below you will find a map with pins of all of the above locations and stops.


Best Time to Visit Southeast Alaska

The best time of year to complete this Southeast Alaska itinerary would be during summer. Alaska’s summer is said to run from May 10 to September 15 but peak summer season is June to August. This is because the weather is usually optimal during those months, with warmer and dryer conditions.

It is still possible to visit during the shoulder months of May and September, but expect cooler temperatures. September is also rainier than the months of May through August. One bonus of visiting during shoulder season is discounts on some hotels and tours.

Insiders tip: when speaking to various locals they recommended June 15 – July 15 for the best weather possible.


Summer Weather in Alaska

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Chilkoot Lake and Chilkoot River in Haines

Summer in Alaska is definitely colder than many people expect. Daytime highs range 60°F – 80°F and nighttime lows can be quite cool, dropping into the 40’s – 50’s. In the shoulder months of May and September you can expect temperatures to be even cooler (5°F – 10°F lower).

What about rain? May is typically the driest month in Alaska (25% chance of rain on any given day) and it gets rainier as the summer months go on. By September there is a 50% chance of rain on any given day.


Traveling To Southeast Alaska During The Covid-19 Pandemic

As of September 2021 when I am writing this guide, Southeast Alaska is currently open to tourists and there are no special entry or travel testing requirements in place.

According to https://covid19.alaska.gov/travelers: “The State of Alaska has no special entry or travel testing requirements. Beginning June 1, 2021, all travelers to Alaska will be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska, including at participating airports.”

In saying that, you cannot enter Alaska if you are currently positive with COVID-19 and must be released from isolation by a medical provider or public health agency before traveling. Testing is not recommended for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days.

It is also recommended by the State of Alaska that you follow the below precautions to keep local communities, yourself, and other tourists safe:

  • Some communities in Alaska have COVID-19 travel rules. Find out if your destination has travel restrictions.
  • Come to Alaska fully vaccinated and wait two weeks after the receipt of one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or the second dose in a two-dose series.
  • Test for COVID-19 before traveling, especially for non-vaccinated travelers.
  • Travelers who are not fully vaccinated should get tested when arriving. Fully-vaccinated travelers may choose to get tested as well. Testing is FREE at many airports in Alaska.
  • If you are not fully-vaccinated, practice social distancing until you receive test results. A second test, taken 5-7 days after arrival, is also recommended.
  • Non-vaccinated travelers can vaccinate for FREE upon arrival at a participating airport or any community vaccine clinic.
  • Get tested and self-isolate if you get sick or develop COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Wash your hands frequently and wipe down high touch surfaces.
  • Wear a face covering while indoors and whenever social distancing is challenging. 

Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Haines Totem Pole - Cultural Sights in Haines

How To Get to Southeast Alaska

The easiest way to get to Southeast Alaska is by flying into one of the area’s major airports, such as Juneau or Sitka. You can also fly to Anchorage and then get a connecting flight down to the Southeast region. Once you arrive in Southeast Alaska it’s easy to get around by ferry, driving, or with Alaska Seaplanes.

We opted to take a direct flight from Seattle to Sitka and then when traveling home we flew on a direct flight from Juneau to Seattle. Click here to research flights for your Southeast Alaska trip.


Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary - Chilkoot Lake in Haines

What To Pack for a Southeast Alaska Trip

Packing for this summer Southeast Alaska itinerary was more akin to packing for a fall trip. The reason being is that summer temperatures in Alaska are definitely on the cooler side and you have to be prepared for sudden changes in weather. We experienced some rainy days on our trip and were thankful we packed adequate clothing!

Clothing and Shoes to bring to Southeast Alaska
Other items to bring to Southeast Alaska

More Adventure Trip Inspiration

I hope you found this 6 day Southeast Alaska itinerary to be helpful! Below you will find some more trip inspiration:


PIN for Later Planning
Southeast Alaska should be on everyone's bucket list! I have traveled to this beautiful region three times now, and each visit has blown me away. Whether you're into hiking, cultural sights, national parks, food, or wildlife, there really is something for any type of visitor to enjoy. Ready to start planning your trip? I've got you covered! In this article, I am sharing an EPIC 6 day Southeast Alaska Itinerary, plus planning tips and more!
Epic 6 Day Southeast Alaska Itinerary

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