There are lots of top things to do in Skagway. It is the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush Trail of 1898. It’s also home to the world-famous White Pass and Yukon railway, a designated International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
There are many types of sightseeing tours available. We have done shore excursions with Holland America and have also used local guides. If you plan to cross the Canada/United States border into the Yukon, you will need your passport.
Book a cruise ship shore excursion:
Rent a car:
Take a self driving tour. Plan your route and watch your time. It is best to do your tour in a five hour round trip. The usual route takes you over White Pass, on to Carcross in the Yukon and provides vistas of Emerald Lake. You can also meet some of the dogs from the Yukon Quest dog sled team at Husky Village.
Book ahead as rental cars sell out fast on busy port days.
When driving, be sure to use extreme caution and watch for wildlife on the road. Hitting an animal can cause injuries and damage to your vehicle. It can also delay your return to board your cruise ship on time.
Use a local guide:
We booked our party of four with a local tour company, Skagway Tours. We reserved the full day tour before we arrived in port. We were very lucky since there were just six people on our small 18 passenger tour bus. It was like our own private tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and made many stops to allow photographs. He even spotted a herd of moose crossing a lake.
This tour included:
- A drive through spectacular Tormented Valley on the South Klondike Highway.
- A photo stop at Emerald Lake to view its stunning turquoise coloured waters.
- A visit to the world’s smallest desert near Carcross.
- A chance to see husky puppies at Husky Village and meet some of Yukon Quest’s 1,000 mile lead dogs. If time permits, take a ride on a dog cart.
- An informative encounter at the Wildlife Museum. The museum features the largest mounted polar bear.
- A chicken barbecue lunch.
Important: If you don’t book in advance and plan to take a walk into town to book a tour, you may be disappointed. We tried this once and the tour we wanted was full.
Top things to do in Skagway
- Try panning for gold.
- Savour grilled wild Alaskan salmon. We experienced this on a Holland America tour and it was the best we have tasted.
- Learn more about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush at the four National Park Museums.
- Discover the Skagway Unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. It includes 20 buildings in six blocks in the downtown Skagway area. Here is a map.
- Take a free walking tour with a Park Ranger. Tickets are required. The tickets are available the day of the tour on a first-come, first-served basis or you can reserve here in advance.
- Take a ride on the world-famous White Pass and Yukon Railway. The railway was built because of the Gold Rush. It is one of the most scenic rail routes in North America. The White Pass Summit Excursion climbs to 2,885 feet past waterfalls and canyons and over trestles that are remarkably high. See the famous Klondike Trail of ’98 and cross over the border into Yukon, Canada. It is a 40 mile round trip and takes up to 3.5 hours. Booking a shore excursion for this route will allow for dockside train departures.
- Visit the Red Onion Saloon, built in 1897. It offers a brothel museum, tours, food and bar. During the gold rush, the dance hall bar had 10 women waiting for their services to be called upon. Lined up on the bar stand 10 dolls in the likeness of each of the available women. Men would select the doll they wanted to spend time with. To show the doll was busy it would be placed on its back on the bar by the bartender. The women would then take their paying clients upstairs to one the ten rooms available in the brothel.
- Take a great dog sledding adventure high above Skagway with professional mushers. Start with a “flightseeing” tour over majestic glaciers to the dog sled location. Expensive, but a once in a lifetime experience.
- Cruise the Lynn Canal, North America’s deepest, longest fjord.
- Skagway has a year round population of 862.
- Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada is 110 road miles away.
- Gold was first discovered near Bonanza Creek in 1896.
- Chilkoot and Chilkat people have lived on these lands for hundreds of years.
- This location was originally called “Skagua” by the Chilkoot and Chilkat people. It means windy place.
- Skagway was proclaimed the Garden City of Alaska in 1910.
- Dog sleds were first used by First Nations people to transport goods during the winter.
- White Pass and Yukon railway, a designated International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, shares this significant recognition with the Statue of Liberty, the Panama Canal and the Eiffel Tower.
- There were about 80 saloons running through the Red Light District in Skagway during the peak of the Gold Rush.
- The Golden North Hotel is the oldest hotel in Alaska.
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