Port of Call-Skagway

Port of Call-Skagway

Stroll the preserved wooden boardwalks and restored historic buildings in Skagway and imagine yourself a part of the 20,000 prospectors who made the city the base for their quest for gold. Skagway was one of the starting points for miners seeking their fortune in the Klondike. Since the Canadian government required each prospector to bring 1 ton of provisions to survive winter, imagine the logistics hub Skagway once was.  One of the most popular attractions for Skagway is the narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Railroad which was completed just as gold production fell. The city  has attractions to fit interests from historic to active.

White Pass and Yukon Railroad
Photo via Dreamstime.com, Cecvoffman

The terrain from Skagway to Carcross is so challenging, the construction of the White Pass and Yukon route required 450 tons of explosives and earned a place as an International Civil Engineering Landmark, along with the Eiffel Tower, Panama Canal and the Statue of Liberty. Ride in fully restored cars (the oldest four were built in 1881) pulled by vintage diesel engines over 20 miles of steep grades, and cliff hanging curves to climb the 3000 feet to the White Pass summit. The route retraces the original White Pass summit trek, offering a magnificent vista of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and  gold rush sites. The train agent is your historic guide, entertaining you with captivating tales of Gold Rush history. Various combinations of train ride are possible, round trip train ride, train up and bus back, bus up and train back. Variations of the train ride also include gold panning, dog sledding, and riding a bike back down the summit.

Skagway, AK
The famous Red Onion, former upscale brothel, now Bar/Restaurant

History lovers can envision what Skagway was like when it was the gateway to the Yukon. Historical tours of Skagway can be done self-guided, guided by one of the Madams from the Red Onion Saloon, or by tour car. Once an exclusive bordello, the Red Onion Saloon is now a bar/restaurant and a member of the Historic Registry.

Many wildlife excursions leave from Skagway. If seeing a bear is on your list of things to do, your best odds for a sighting is in Haines, a 40 minute fast ferry ride from Skagway. The Chilkoot Lake area teems with bears and bald eagles beginning in mid July as salmon begin their spawning runs.  Kayak on the Chilkoot Lake or raft in the Chilkat Mountains. Nearby Haines is the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, so eagle lovers will want it on their list.

Photography fans can choose excursions specifically designed to provide photo opportunities and advice. Adventure lovers have many opportunities to enjoy their favorite pursuits. Since the ports in the Inner Passage offer similar adventures, it is possible to raft in one port, hike in another, and bike, horseback ride or fish in the next. Skagway offers scenery, history, active days, train rides, bus tours, and wildlife. Your choices range from walking off the ship and self touring the town to flight seeing by float plane. Enjoy your day!

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