This caboose cabin came into sight as the White Pass & Yukon Route train rounded a bend high in the pass. The train conductor said that the Caboose is available to rent out and is fully capable of rooming tenants up to six people, but getting back to town is only when the train comes by.
If you enjoy the peaceful calm of only the animals and nature sounds then this is the place for you. No human footprints but your own. This is the wilderness dream stay. Looking at the Caboose layout it seems okay except that black bears roam the area and you do have to use an outhouse. That is "bearly" civil to a city guy like me. Guess I would have to be a little bit country as well. "Pass me a corncob, Ma. I'm aheadin' outside." ;-)
Most visitors don't get to see how quiet Skagway becomes once the cruise ships have departed in the late afternoon. If time allows you to do so, I'd recommend spending an evening in Skagway to see the town under a completely different light. Broadway Avenue especially takes on the eerie feeling of a ghost town, being so full of action during the day only to become almost entirely deserted at night. This is another thing that makes Skagway so different from Dawson City, since the latter never really seems to go to sleep.
Since this was a round-trip I decided it didn't belong under transportation. And it certainly is off the beaten path. We were enormously fortunate that it was a beautiful sunny morning when we took the trip. We booked the summit round-trip through our cruise line, Holland America and chose the 8:30am trip, which we did not regret as the perfect weather turned gray on our return.
While the engine is diesel, the cars are original, including a stove at the front of each car. As you climb it gets colder and colder, and, if you get on the little porches at the end of each car you get better photos, but freeze even more. There was a hardy band of 4 of us who huddled and snapped.
If you are lucky enough to be in the first berth, it is a short walk to the train. On the way back they will let you off closer to downtown if you wish, which is a big help.
A 20 - 30 min walk from the cruise liner docks will take you to the rail yards of the WP & Y Railyards where numerous historic pieces of rolling stock are generally on view.
Some of the passenger parlor cars date back to 1883 and yet virtually identical ones are still being built in 2004.
for full specs on rolling stock:-
It is a long hike and a huge elevation gain but just look at the photos.....access the trailhead either from the point, take the road up to the dyea road or head out of Skagway and take the Dyea exit. AB Mountain at 5,052 feet can easily be spotted in the Skagway skyline. The trailhead is located just 5 minutes outside of Skagway, Alaska. The mountain has an appearance of an A and a B beside one another though sometimes it is hard to spot the B during the snowy months. It is said that in order to join the Arctic Brotherhood one must first make the 10 mile roundtrip hike to the summit of AB Mountain. The trail can be hard to locate at times so pick a day with good weather or take a local, like Mike Konsler.
You can take a ferry ride to the even smaller town of Haines via the Alaska Marine Highway (yeah...it's a highway that is water) and through the Taiya and Chilkoot Inlet for an interesting side excursion (like I did). I went kayaking and it was a priceless experience. If you are coming in on a ship, then sign up for an excursion, or just plan a trip to Chilkoot Lake yourself if arriving by other means.
Because they are happy. ;-)
If you are in Skagway during the spawning season, there are a lot of places to get very close to salmon as they make their journey upstream. And when I say close, I am saying as close as you could get. I got soaked when I was standing over a small part of the creek and a "happy" salmon used all of his or her might to get past a particular obstacle in the creek. You can walk along Dewey Creek and see them everywhere. It's fascinating to watch them struggle against nature...and at other times just wade in water and conserve their energy for the next assault on the next difficulty.
If you arrive by ship and your boat docks at the very base of Broadway Street, keep your eyes peeled for seals. A sure sign that salmon are around, get ready to watch these seals ham it up for you. They will play with their food and act oh-so-cute in order to keep your attention and a crowd for as long as possible.
Then just follow the water and keep going. When I walked along the creek, most people just stopped and turned around after seeing just a little bit. But the view is better up the creek just a wee bit more. So go for it. Who knows what you might see.
Reid Falls is in the back of the Skagway Cemetery, which is a bit beyond the borders of the tiny town. Just go straight up Broadway Street and keep going...and going. If you want, just follow the railroad tracks all the way back until you see the cemetery. Then hike the trail, and don't worry because it is a short one. At the end you will come upon Reid Falls.
My wife and my 70 year old mom took a hike east of town that went up the side of a mountain. We stopped when we reached Lower Dewey Lake. According to the Klondike Gold Rush National Park it is only 0.7 mile to Lower Dewey Lake. The really important fact is that you climb up 500 feet from the start of the hike in town to get to Lower Dewey Lake. I don't know how much further up the mountain the path went only that it did keep going. We knew we couldn't go any further but were happy with reaching the beautiful lake.
It's hard to get very far 'off the beaten path' in Skagway, because it is so tiny. But about 2 miles from the cruise-ship docks is an old cemetery with very interesting graves of the colorful characters who lived in Skagway a hundred years ago or so. Try to walk there early, before the crowded tour buses arrive. You'll have the place to yourself. A bit beyond the cemetery is a nice waterfall.