As was the bcase in Juneau, the Department of agriculture has erected a number of fish gates in their National Parks and waterways. They open these gates when a member of staff is sitting above the opening so that they can count the number, and type, of salmon that are spawning.
This is an open invitation for bears to come to dinner, and this grizzly was no exception. It was also wearing a collar which meant that it was considered dangerous!
The fish assemble in front of the gates and the bears simply take their young into the water to teach them how to catch fish! This is a great place to view the bears….but it can be dangerous!
Well, there we were, standing around looking for bald eagles when a grizzly bear with 2 cubs decided leave the safety of the forest; walk along the road and straight past me! In the attached photo you can see me in the top left as the Grizzly decides to walk back along the forest trail! My brother in law, Danny, was standing on the other side of the road and took this photo.
Well, our work here was done! We had come to see the grizzly bears and here we were, 10 minutes into our tour, and we had seen the entire family!
We headed down to the small boat harbor and took the ferry to Haines, a ride of approx 80 minutes.
Once we arrived at Haines we decided to take a wildlife viewing tour which took in the Chilkoot Lake recreational Lake area, and our guide had advised us that there had been a lot of grizzly bear activity recently. We boarded our old school bus and headed for a short tour of town before we departed for our “bear hunting” adventure.
Our luck had certainly been with us since we arrived in Alaska. I had forgotten what a cloud looked like and the weather was nothing short of spectacular. We had seen black bears in Juneau and everything we had come to see was presented to us in large quantities. We were therefore feeling very lucky and expected that nothing would change!
After discovering that Skagway was very small and compact, and had the same shops as Juneau, we decided to take the fast ferry to Haines where we hoped to see some grizzly bear. We had heard that if you want to see Grizzly bears in Southern Alaska, Haines was the place to go…especially the Chilkoot Lake recreational Lake area.
In August 2010 the White Pass Yukon train trip US$112 per person for a half day excursion.
Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the train ride is a 40 mile (64 km) round and climbs the steep terrain from Skagway to the Summit of the White Pass, a 2,865 foot rise in elevation!
Along the way you will pass many streams, waterfalls and glaciers while you will traverse your way through many tunnels and gorges,
There is a conductor on board that provides you with a narrative of the sites and you will be told about many stories and adventures from days gone by.
The 2-hour Skagway Street Car Tour is reasonably priced and offers an insight into the historical aspects of the town. It is also an excellent opportunity to sit back, relax and be shown around the area while taking your photos. You can always go back and visit any of the sites at the end of the tour.
The costumed conductor gets you into the Klondike Gold Rush days and his narrative is very informative.
Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding were all ex Presidents of the USA. They have all been to Skagway and were all made honorary members of the Arctic Brotherhood. This tour makes a big thing of this fact and during your tour you are also made an honorary member of the Brotherhood!
The tours are geared around the cruise industry and therefore they depart from the pier area daily during the cruise season. The departures are at 08:30, 10:45, 13:15, and 15:30.
In 1899 the Arctic Brotherhood build this impressive meeting hall, which is said to be the most photographed building in all of Alaska.
This impressive building, located in the main street of downtown Skagway, was built by the original members who collected over 8,500 sticks that had drifted and settled on the shore around town.
Today, the Arctic Brotherhood Building is home to the Skagway tourist information center and no visit to Skagway would be complete without a visit to this unique piece of architecture.
During the Gold Rush days, The Red Onion saloon was a local “watering hole’” Bordello and dance hall. It was designed to part the miners of their money by filling them full if “liquid courage,” have a girl ask them to dance before taking them upstairs to one of the 10 rooms!
Now days, The Red Onion Brothel Museum is filled with gold rush memorabilia and still offers a $5 tour of the venue.
The museum advises that many of the items that are actually on display were on display in the original brothel.
Skagway is a lot smaller than Juneau and is quite compact, yet is is similar in the way that the mountains make you feel closed in as they dwarf to town.
Our ship docked virtually in the centre of town and the road from the dock to the centre of town is approx. 500 yards. The land in town is flat and the walk is very easy.
Right beside the dock is the “local” ferry terminal where you can take a ferry to Haines or further a field.
Skagway was the second Alaskan port of call for the Sea Princess. We have sailed overnight from Juneau and we were steaming through deep waters that had been carved out over millions of years. The towering snow capped mountains led us toward Skagway which, like Juneau, was dwarfed by these massive mountains.
Once again, we were up early and the cloudless skies welcomed in yet another perfect day for our Alaskan odyssey.
The Mascot Saloon is a Skagway saloon that was restored by the National Park Service to its appearance at the turn of the century. It is not an operating saloon anymore, so you can take the kids into it.
Skagway is the location of the Yukon Gold Rush National Historical Site, which includes a collection of restored buildings and a small, but interesting museum. The museum features exhibits about the Klondike Gold Rush and the Skagway area's role in it. If you want to understand the history of Skagway, this is an excellent place to begin. Our favorite parts of the museum were the 3-dimensional model of the routes between Skagway and the Yukon, which gave you a good feel for the severity of the terrain, and the exhibit which showed how much gear a would-be miner would have to buy and lug across the mountains before being allowed into the Yukon.
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, is essentially the core of Skagway's historic district. Join a ranger on guided walking tour of the historic district. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park also offers exhibits and displays, restored buildings, ranger presentations and films. These free tours offer the best way to learn about life in the Gold Rush era. This is one of those things that the US National Park Service does very well. Tours leave from the National Park visitors center, located in the old White Pass Railroad depot building. The fourteen buildings which are owned by the park have been completely restored and include still lifes and manequins which represent the building's original use. Historical details about many more buildings which are leased by private retailers are also included on the tour. Start with an informative, but slightly dated, short film narrated by William Holden. There are usually two tours every afternoon. Check the schedule at the visitor's center. If you would like to see a preview you can also take a virtual tour at the park's web site.
The National Park Service also maintains and manages other sites in the area including the Chilkoot Trail, Dyea townsite, and the Gold Rush Cemetary.
Like the Haines Highway, The South Klondike Highway is a gorgeous and well maintained road that connects the inside passage to the Alaska Highway. That is where their similarity ends. From Skagway the road starts the serious climb to White Pass immediately upon leaving the city passing US Customs at mile 6.9. Soon thereafter there is a good turnout with views of Esk Glacier and The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. Cross the unusual Captain William Moore suspension bridge in a couple more miles. Now at the the summit area itself, you will find massive rounded peaks of lichen covered gray rocks and waterfalls. (Mile 14.2) From here the highway begins it's descent into the beautiful Yukon lake country. A couple miles past the summit there is a great view of the light blue Summit Lake and a train depot at Fraser, BC. Stop at Canadian customs at mile 22. The impressive remains of the Venus Silver Mine comes into view at mile 54.4. The most beautiful overlook along the route has to be the Bove Island overlook at mile 59.5. The lake and mountain views from this rest area are phenomenal.
Make a stop in Carcross at the Mathew Watson General Store and the very nice Carcross Depot Welcome Center and Museum. Carcross itself is surrounded by small houses and cabins. The Anglican Church is a nice photo op and historical point.
There are two sites less than five miles beyond Carcross that are definitely worth the drive. The Carcross Desert is the world's smallest desert, and it is surrounded by mountain views and golden aspen. Just a couple miles more brings you Spirit Lake and then Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is very bright blue green around the edges and deep emerald in the center. We chose to make Emerald Lake our turn around point. We still had time to see downtown Skagway and the Gold Rush Cemetery upon returning.
This is a very creepy place just north of town beyond the rail yards. You will find literally hundreds of graves beside the Skagway River in a deep evergreen forest. Many of he headstones have been restored including the famous graves of "Soapy" William Jefferson Smith and Frank Reid. Definitely worth a visit. It is the one place where you can see and feel the impact of the gold rush era.
The adventurous can take the trail to beautiful Rieds Falls from the Cemetery. It is easy 4 mile round trip.