Skagway is the closest town to Glacier Bay National Park and the flight over the glaciers is one not to miss. The plane is able to land on the glaciers early in the year as long as conditions are right. A one of a kind aerial excursion. No one should take an Alaska cruise without seeing the spectacular glaciers and rugged snow-capped mountains that can only be seen from the air. Skagway is a good place to do it.
Broadway is the Inside Passage's most photogenic street. It's lined with old storefronts (see photo above). Many date back to the Gold Rush days.
This narrow-gauge railway was created in 1898 to transport miners and supplies to the gold-rich Yukon. Look out the windows of the period-piece train as it winds up a¾scenic mountain pass following the original route. There are 2 to 3 scheduled daily departures of this roundtrip outing lasting several hours.
Corrington's Alaskan Ivory and Museum is an outstanding private collection that spans the long and surprising history of Alaska that charges no admission fee. It is located at Fifth and Broadway at the far end of the "Old Town" tourist area. It would be tempting to walk quickly through this small area at the back of the store but take your time to appreciate its many outstanding exhibits not to be seen anywhere, even in "fancy museums".
Upon entering you see a large mammoth tusk (over 10,000 years old) , next to a smaller one which has been hand carved with three-dimensional Ice Age hunting scenes. There are several great examples of scrimshaw (etched walrus tusk), the intriguing Civil War story of a Confederate ship sinking Yankee whalers in the Arctic, beautiful artifacts from the Russian Period, the early days of harpooning, dogsled equipment from the 1897 Gold Rush, and photos and tales of early aviators and greedy ship captains. There is also some excellent Native American art, such as wicker-like baskets made from the baleen of whale mouths (a weaving tradition almost as extinct as the mammoths). Don't miss the fossilized skulls of a miniature T-Rex and saber-tooth cat!
Enjoy this wonderful place before or after your "authentic" tour of the rest of Skagway. This is the real deal - please consider putting something in the donation box.
Visit the local museums; participate in a guided tour of the Skagway Historic District; explore nature on the local trails; tour the Dyea townsite with a Ranger; hike the Chilkoot Trail. And remember to bring your camera to record the great views.
Step back a century in time and visit our community museum in the McCabe College Building, at 7th and Spring Street in the Historic District.
Skagways most treasured artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and historical records of the past century are in the SKAGWAY MUSEUM, renowned for its fine Alaska Native heritage collection of baskets, beadwork, and carvings and for its Gold Rush collection of artifacts and tools used by the gold seekers. McCabe College, built in 1899 of native granite, was Alaskas first institution of higher education. It has served as a school, court house, jail, and marshals office for Skagway, the first incorporated city in Alaska. In 2000, the City of Skagway celebrated its centennial and the completion of a new addition to the venerable century-old McCabe Building, which has served as City Hall and Skagway Museum since 1961.
Located in the beautifully restored City Hall in historic Skagway, Trail of '98 Museum displays fascinating gold rush memorabilia, plus Native artifacts, newspapers, videos, and more.
Grab a beer in Skagway's atmospheric 1898 saloon. Go upstairs to tour an ex-bordello.
They also offer
The tour is operated by the Red Onion but meanders all over Skagway. Our tour began at the cruise dock but I can't speak for a tour that is booked directly through the Red Onion.
was a great choice for our final shore excursion during our Alaskan cruise vacation. There is a lot of social and human interest content pertaining to the nightlife in turn-of-the-century Skagway, as well as a solid background in the gold rush history which set the stage, and a few ghost stories thrown in for good measure. Our guide was Ophelia Johnson, who did a great overall job. The tour guides dress in period costume and Ophelia managed to take us back in time without stretching the "character" into ridiculous anachronisms.
We ambled over a decent portion of the main drag and a few side streets, pausing several times for tales. The tour ends in the Red Onion's upstairs bar room (open only for tours) for a toast, and then a concluding portion in the upstairs rooms, which feature some original artifacts and construction from the saloon's wild and wooly days.
During the tour there is a lot of playful flirting and innuendo, but, to the organizers' credit, there are times when they highlight the difficult and unglamorous or even repugnant experiences of some of these women (or sometimes, sadly, girls). They strike a good balance between keeping things light and not glossing over the harsh realities. So throughout this tour you will hear sad stories, humorous stories, creepy stories, and heartwarming stories, and almost all of them are interesting and educational.
I would highly recommend the Ghosts and Good Time Girls tour for a low-key morning or afternoon during which you are certain to learn a bit and to be well entertained.
Reading the headstones and their dates gives you a time warp to the past.Visitors who become infatuated with Smith and Reid can walk out to Gold Rush Cemetery, a 2½-mile stroll northeast on State St. Follow State until it curves into 23rd Ave and look for the sign to Soapy's grave across the railroad tracks. A wooden bridge along the tracks leads to the main part of the cemetery, the site of many stampeders' graves and the plots of Reid and Smith. From Reid's gravestone, it's a short hike uphill to lovely Reid Falls, which cascades 300ft down the mountainside.
Operated by the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, hikers can stop by the center on Broadway, near 2nd Avenue in Skagway for maps, trail condition information, help with Canadian Customs regulations, and of course the hiking permit. The Chilkoot Trail is one of two main routes to the Klondike that originate in this area. Long before the gold rush, the trail was established by Tlingit people as a trade route into the interior of Canada. Fish, seal oil and seaweed were traded with the First Nations peoples for moose and caribou hides, plant materials and other goods unavailable on the coast..
The most challenging way to follow in the footsteps of the stampeders and natives is by hiking the 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail, accessible only on foot. It is a difficult hike and usually takes three to five days. The trail begins at the Taiya River bridge near the Dyea townsite and travels over the Chilkoot Pass to Lake Bennett.
Alaskas Panhandle is a rocky, narrow strip of land closely abutting British Columbia, running some 644 kilometers (400 miles) from Ketchikan to the upper end of the Inside Passage at Skagway. During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, Steamships carried thousands of prospectors through Inside Passage from Seattle to jam the docks of Skagway and Dyea. Access to the Yukon River and ultimately Dawson City came via the Chilkoot Trail, passing through the Chilkoot Pass at 1,140 meters (3,739 feet) above Dyea..
Little remains of this gold rush boomtown of 10,000 souls located at the delta of the Taiya River. Once the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) Railroad was completed, the town was dismantled and shifted towards Skagway. In its heyday, Dyea proclaimed itself like many other towns yet to come as the largest city in Alaska. Stampeders crossed Chilkoot Pass with their ton of goods in the effort to strike it rich in the Klondike goldfields starting in 1898. Thousands now come to hike the 53 kilometers (33 miles) through history to Lake Bennett each year. Those interested paddling from Lake Bennett to Dawson City on the Yukon River should read Jennifer Vosss Klondike Trail.The Chilkoot Trailhead is 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the campground in Dyea. It is 12.5 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the trailhead passing through Finnegans Point to Canyon City
The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) campground at Canyon City is the first approved camping site on the trail. A side trail provides access to the old Canyon City town site were many relics of the gold rush remain in view. From Canyon City, hikers will pass through Pleasant Camp and travel a total of 8.4 kilometers (5.2 miles) to Sheep Camp.
A large campground is found at Sheep Camp that can handle 80 people. Most travelers on the Chilkoot Trail spend the night at Sheep Camp since it takes a good day of effort to make it from here 12.1 kilometers (7.5 miles) over the pass to Happy Camp in Canada. At its peak of use, 7,000 stampeders could be found around Sheep Camp. Two key historic landmarks are encountered enroute to the summit, the Scales and Golden Stairs. The Golden Staircase is the classic picture representative of the Yukon Gold Rush. If you look at the current State of Alaska vehicle license plate, the Golden Stairs will easily be seen at its center.
Most gold seeks climbed to the summit some 20 to 40 times to move their ton of goods as required of the North West Mounted Police for entry into Canada. Mounties feared winter starvation and required these supplies accompany each prospective miner. A typical outfit contained 350 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon, 100 pounds of beans and sugar purchased at a cost of $250 to $500 USD. Hikers coming from Sheep Camp will gain 800 meters (2,625 feet) in elevation within the 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) leading to the summit.
Once you have crossed Chilkoot Pass, the trail dips down towards Crater Lake. The climate is much different, drier than the temperate rain forest found at the beginning of the trail in Dyea. Travelers will pass Stone Crib, the once terminus of the Chilkoot Railroad and Transport Company tramway that shipped goods to Lindeman. WP&YR purchased and eliminated the competing service in 1900. It is 10.4 kilometers (6.5 miles) to Lindeman.
It is 8.8 kilometers (5.5 miles) from Happy Camp to the campground at Lindeman. Parks Canada operates a interpretive center worth visiting at the camp. Many of the boats built for the gold rush originated here, the rapids between Lakes Lindeman and Bennett limited the popularity of this option. The trail passes Bare Loon Lake, which provides the chance for a very invigorating trailside swim. Just past Bare Loon Lake is the cut-off trail to Log Cabin.
Prospectors crossed 161 kilometers (100 miles) of lakes leading from Lake Bennett to the Yukon River near the town of Whitehorse. WP&YR maintains a train station at Bennett offering transportation service for hikers to Skagway. Bennett was a prosperous town that went on successfully for a while after the gold rush. Once the railroad reached Whitehorse and that town developed, Bennett faded from the scene.