A colorful history, scant rain and a lot of cruise ships makes a Skagway one of the most interesting and popular towns to visit in the Inside Passage.
Skagway rarely disappoints visitors. A seven-block corridor along Broadway features historic false-front shops and restaurants, wooden sidewalks, locals in period costumes and restored buildings, many of which are part of the National Park Service-managed Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Beginning in 1897, Skagway and the nearby valley of Dyea was the starting place for more than 40,000 gold-rush stampeders who headed to the Yukon primarily by way of the Chilkoot Trail.
Today Skagway survives almost entirely on tourism, as bus tours and more than 400 cruise ships a year turn this small town into a boomtown again every summer. Up to five ships a day stop here and, on the busiest days, more than 8,000 visitors — 10 times the town's resident population — march off the ships and turn Broadway Avenue into a modern-day version of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Things to do
Five times a day during the summer, National Park Service rangers lead a free, 45-minute walking tour of the historic district, stopping at historic buildings like the Mascot Saloon Museum, the first cabin built in Skagway and one of the town’s earliest brothels.
For the adventurous, Skagway has an excellent trail system that begins just blocks from the downtown area and allows hikers to trek to alpine lakes, waterfalls, even the graves of Skagway’s most notorious residents, Soapy Smith and Frank Reid. The town also serves as the departure point for one of Alaska’s most popular backpacking adventures: the Chilkoot Trail, a three- to four-day hike along the same route that the stampeders followed on their way to the Klondike Gold Fields in Canada to the north. For more information on the Chilkoot Trail and hiking in Skagway contact the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center.
The historic White Pass & Yukon Route railroad provides tours to the top of the mountain pass north of town. Seated in parlor cars, passengers ride up the most spectacular part of the trip viewing scenery such as Glacier Gorge, Dead Horse Gulch and Bridal Veil Falls. At the top they see the White Pass at 2,885 feet, which is also the international boundary between the United States and Canada.