River House is across a quiet gravel lane from the wetlands and beach along the Chilkat River in Haines Alaska. Push aside the wild rose bushes to walk along the river at any tide except extreme high tide. There you’ll find waterfowl, wildflowers, eagles, hawks and ravens. You can walk for miles. A parade of wildflowers starts in April with the first shooting stars, and continues all summer through beach peas, roses, wild iris, marsh marigold, cinquefoil and daisies to aster in late September. To name a few.
The area is a virtual wildlife refuge. The eulachon run at the end of April. The spring bird migration peaks in early May and includes shorebirds and waterfowl of all description. Eagles abound. Although Haines’ famed winter Eagle Festival is centered about 25 miles upriver, those eagles have to go somewhere the rest of the year and for a great many of them that somewhere is the tidal flats of the Chilkat River. Your host once sat on a rock in front of River House and counted 530 eagles. The gulls can be so noisy you’ll be glad the windows close! Bring your best binoculars.
The same things that tempt the eagles (eulachon and other small fish in the spring, dying salmon in the summer and fall) also bring an abundance of other wildlife. Sea lions can come fairly close at high tide; seals are often seen. Bears frequent the beaches on the far side of the river in the spring, and the river flats later in the year when the salmon are running; occasionally one comes right down River Road. Moose are often spotted, and once in a great while you can see wolves across the river.