There are lots of top things to do in Skagway. It is the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush Trail of 1898 and home to the world-famous White Pass and Yukon Railway, a designated International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Skagway sightseeing tours are available to suit all ages and activity levels. We have done shore excursions with Holland America Cruise Lines and have used local guides.
If you plan to cross the Canada/United States border into the Yukon, you will need your passport.
Booking a shore excursion directly aboard your cruise ship, like Holland America, Celebrity, Princess and others offers the quickest and easiest way to tour this area.
Top things to do in Skagway Alaska
Take a self-guided driving tour
Rent a car in Skagway and make your own adventure on a self-guided driving tour. Plan your route and watch your time.
Allow five hours round trip for the tour. The usual route takes you over White Pass, to historic Carcross in the Yukon and provides vistas of Emerald Lake.
Meet husky dogs from the Yukon Quest dog sled team at Husky Village at Caribou Crossing Trading post just north of Carcross.
Rental cars sell out fast on busy port days. Important – before booking a car, make sure the border is open to Canada.
Use extreme caution driving this route and watch for wildlife on the road. Hitting an animal can cause serious injuries and damage to your vehicle. It can delay your return to board the cruise ship on time.
Use a local guide in Skagway Alaska
We booked our party of four with a local tour company, Skagway Tours. We reserved the full day tour before we arrived in port. Our tour had just six people on the small 18 passenger tour bus. It was like our own private tour.
The guide was very knowledgeable and made many photo stops during the journey. 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.
- An informative encounter at a Wildlife Museum. The museum features the largest mounted polar bear.
- A chicken barbecue lunch.
- 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.
Check to see what 2022 tours are operating along this route by calling Skagway Tours directly.
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 sold out.
A photo stop at Emerald Lake to view its stunning turquoise coloured waters. Discover the breathtaking scenery of the Yukon wilderness. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
Visit the world’s smallest desert, Carcross Desert in the Yukon. Explore top things to do in Skagway. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
Meet the dogs at Husky Village. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
Learn about the Klondike Gold Rush
There are four museums to explore to learn more about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Learn more about the history of the gold rush the at four National Park Museums.
Visit some of the historic buildings in Skagway. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
The Mascot Saloon
Look inside the historic Mascot Saloon. This saloon was the longest operating saloon in Skagway. It closed in 1916 at the time of Prohabition.
Inside the historic Mascot Saloon in Skagway Alaska. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Six blocks in the downtown Skagway area features 20 hisotric buildings. Here is a map.
Historic building in downtown Skagway. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
The historic streets of downtown Skagway. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
Ride the rails of the famous White Pass and Yukon Railway
Take a ride on the world-famous White Pass and Yukon Railway. The railway built because of the Gold Rush, 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.
The trip is 40 miles round trip and takes up to 3.5 hours. Booking a shore excursion for this route will allow for dockside train departures.
Find out more about the historic White Pass and Yukon Rail Route, watch a video and view more photos.
White Pass and Yukon Railway one of the most scenic rail trips in the world.
The White Pass and Yukon railway It is one of the most scenic rail routes in North America. Discover the breathtaking scenery of Alaska wilderness. Explore top things to do in Skagway. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Take a ride on the famous White Pass Railway in Skagway. Discover the breathtaking scenery of Alaska wilderness. Explore top things to do while in port. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Visit the Red Onion Saloon
The historic Red Onion Saloon, built in 1897, has a very colourful past.
During the gold rush, the dance hall bar had 10 “Goodtime Girls” waiting for their services to be called upon by the saloon’s patrons. On the bar stood 10 dolls made into the likeness of each of the available women.
Lonely men would select the doll they wanted to spend time with. The women would then take their paying clients upstairs to one the ten bedrooms available in the brothel.
If one of the lovely women was already occupied, their doll would be placed on its back, on the bar, by the bartender.
Today the Red Onion Saloon serves traditional bar food and drinks. Book a “Quickie” brothel tour of the upstairs museum with a Saloon Madam or Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour. Tours can be reserved in advance.
Visit the historic Red Onion Saloon in Skagway Alaska. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
Go on a dog sledding adventure
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.
Watch a Klondike Gold Rush Show
The Day’s of ’98 Klondike Gold Rush vaudiville show has been running since 1923. Come relive the days of notorious Soapy Sam in a lively entertaining musical featuring colourful can-can dancers from this famous era. Buy tickets to the show.
Pan for Gold and try a Salmon Bake
Savour grilled wild Alaskan salmon. We experienced this on a Holland America tour and it was the best we have tasted.
The Gold Panning and Salmon Bake tour to the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp is two hours and can be booked directly. We saw a bear come into the camp while we were enjoying our salmon feast.
Cruise the Lynn Canal, North America’s deepest, longest fjord
Take a Glacier Point Wilderness Safari tour to Davidson Glacier and travel Lynn Canal, North America’s longest fjord. There is a good chance of spotting whales, seals and waterfalls along the way.
Experience a horse and buggy ride
Take a quaint horse and buggy tour of Skagway. This narrated tour provides a great overview of historic Skagway.
Discover the breathtaking scenery of Alaska wilderness. Explore top things to do while in Skagway port. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
Quick Facts about Skagway Alaska
- 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.
The Golden North Hotel in Skagway is the oldest hotel in Alaska. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Discover the breathtaking scenery of Alaska wilderness. Explore top things to do while in port. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr
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