A DO NOT MISS ADVENTURE. If you only do one thing in Skagway, it is to go on the White Pass & Yukon Route, of The Scenic Railway of the World. This narrow gauge railway. built in 1898, runs on 3 foot wide tracks, instead of the normal 4 feet, 8.5 inch tracks of most railroads. It is truly a spectacular ride and the train has a feel of the early days of railroading. What child in all of us doesn't get a thrill out of riding the rails.
The tracks wind up the mountain pass to Glacier. Try to go when the snow is still on the mountain by the train tracks. May is a very good month for seeing things still covered in snow. The views are awesome. The ride is about 2 1/2 hours, so if you came by cruise ship, you have lots of time to visit the town. See my travelogue for more pictures of this amazing ride.
A cemetary may seem like an odd place to visit but it is one of Skagway's main attractions.
I went in the early evening and it was still night, I bet it would have a whole different appeal during the night.
But it is neat to see how old many of the head stones are and reading them gives you a sense for the Gold Rush era.
I think if you take the time to learn the history you will enjoy your temporary visit here.
Visit Jewell Gardens, located in Skagway, the "Garden City of Alaska." Jewell Gardens, situated on the original Historic Clark Farm Site, offers visitors a unique northern experience. Carrots, lettuces, raspberries, potatoes, peas, herbs, and other vegetables are grown among lush, brilliant flowers in this beautiful display garden. Varieties that thrive in the long daylight hours of "the Land of the Midnight Sun" grow to spectacular size.
Be sure to check the hours for your visit here, during my visit in May it wasn't hopen in the evenings, so I missed out. We did manage to get some pictures over the fence but that was about it :-(
Opened in 1995 as the largest gift shop in Southeast Alaska, S.O.S. is located at 7th and Broadway with over 1,500 feet of Broadway exposure. The unique interior, with its log rafters and high ceiling, reflects the rustic Alaskan feel that visitors seek, while providing a large amount of vertical retail space. Two expansions occurred, one in 1997 and one again in 2000.
When you are entering Skagway you will see a turnoff to a town call Dyea. Take this right instead of turning left into Skagway. This will bring you up the side of the mountain where some beautiful houses are located with some great views.
But there is also a look out for a great overview shot of the port city of Skagway as you can see in this picture.
All the local tourist maps will have the look out market as well if you have trouble finding it but there shouldn't be any problem.
If your entering Skagway via boat taking the train tour is most likely highly recommended. You will see the mountains and have a great trip.
I passed because driving into Skagway you explore the mountains and see most of the same terrain.
Skagway is a very popular destination for cruise ships and the town can be over run with tourist making it a lively town.
If you enjoy getting a glimpse of these massive ships, just head to the docks and there will be a regular flow of cruise ships.
This is a view of the Skagway River from the Gold Rush Cemetary area.
If you have the time there are a couple of recommended hiking trails but you can walk along the river in areas and it is very scenic.
I would recommend you do some hiking while in this area.
This structure was built in 1975 with a 2,000 sq. ft. expansion in 1979, and another 3,000 sq. ft. expansion in 1984 to accommodate the Corrington Museum of Alaskan History. There is a 900 sq. ft. 2 bedroom, one bathroom apartment, 400 sq. ft. office, and over 1,000 sq. ft. of storage space on the 2nd floor
A long time before coming to Alaska, we booked the White Pass & YukonTrain trip.
It was one of those journey's that I was really looking forward too, and I never got to do, as heavy rain overnight caused a large landslide blocking the railway tracks.
The alternative, was money back, or do the trip by Bus, we chose the latter, and can say, we were not one bit disappointed, plus we saved some money, Bus is Cheaper than Train.
This is quite a long day trip.
We all boarded the Bus, and once everybody was seated, were told the details of our trip by a lovely, young woman who was our Driver and Guide for the day. She was so bright and bubbly, she really made sure that none of us regretted taking the tour!
Our Bus climbed a steep Mountain just outside of Skagway. We made several photo stops along the way. Scenery was spectacular, beautiful Lakes, waterfalls, plenty of snow, we just loved it!
The bus stopped at the Yukon, Canada sign, and here the driver took photos for everybody on the tour, a nice gesture.
In the Yukon, we came across Emerald Lake, a pretty green lake, also, the Carcross desert amongst the snow.
Lunch is had at Caribou crossing, this was nice and included in the price as was the taxidermy museum which was excellent.
We carried on our way to Carcross town, this was a small, very run down settlement, nothing to see here.
A nice trip back in time to walk down the main street and do some shopping if you want.
If you do this tour, remember to take you Passport with you
YUKON DISCOVERY TOUR Tour 402 Price in 2010.....
$103 adult, $82 child (0-12 years)
A stunning train ride from right down at the port of Skagway up to the summit. We had purchased a joint fast ferry / train ticket in Haines for $125 each. Spendy, but worth it. If you are on the inside going up, don't worry. At the summit everyone switches sides, flips their seats over. So you have the fantastic vistas at least half the trip. Plus you can stand on the platforms outside the cars to get a really good view.
If you are arriving by cruise ship and prebooked the trip, catch the train right next to the dock where your vessel pulls in. If you book independently, you catch the train at the main depot, downtown still fairly close to the docks. We prebooked out of Haines, but folks were buying tickets right at the depot.
We just did the trip to the summit and back, about a 4 hour trip. But you can go beyond the summit further into Canada or you can make arrangements to be dropped off along the way for a backwoods hiking trip.
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.
The White Pass and Yukon train has been called the most historic, beautiful, and steep train ride in north america. The price is almost as steep as the ascent, but it is a totally unique excursion. For less than half the price, you can cover much more territory by renting a car. You'll see things like the Venus Mine, Bove Island, Carcross, Carcross Desert, and Emerald Lake. It lacks the romance of train travel, but the added scenery is gorgeous. You can easily drive to just beyond Carcross and back with time left to tour Skagway.
White Pass Summit Excursion
This three hour, forty mile round trip climbs from tidewater at Skagway to the summit of the White Pass - a 2,865 foot elevation! The fully narrated tour features two tunnels, sky-high trestles, cascading waterfalls, historic sites and spectacular scenery! You’ll ride in comfortable restored and replica coaches pulled by vintage diesel locomotives. The trains operate from May 10-September 23, with departures at 8:15am and 12:45pm. A third departure is also made at 4:30pm from May 10-September 9, 2003. $89 for adults and $45 for children.
Lake Bennett Excursion
Travel by vintage diesel or with Engine No.73, our 1947 Baldwin steam locomotive on an 8 1/2 hour, eighty mile round trip adventure 20 miles beyond White Pass Summit to remote and historic Bennett, British Columbia -- end of the Chilkoot Trail. During the two hour layover, participate in a walking tour with a Park Historian, explore the area's artifacts and tour the historic displays in our 1903 train station. Fare includes box lunch and photo run-bys.
Friday diesel trips to Bennett will run until September 10th, but Saturday trips end August 28th. The Lake Bennett excursion is offered on fridays and saturdays only.
The WPYR also offers a pickup service for hikers who have braved the 33 mile Chilkoot Trail. $35 m-f, $45 saturdays.
Cruise ship passengers must purchase tickets at the tour desk on board your ship.
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.