Cruises to Alaska visiting Skagway pull into the rowdy pioneer town of Jack London and Soapy Smith. Everywhere you look in this open-air museum are reminders of the wild days of 1898, from historic buildings and costumed actors strolling the boardwalks, to the unique narrow-gauge train and the formidable mountains that guarded the gold fields of the Klondike.
Explore the restored period buildings in Klondike Gold Rush National Historic District.
Fly into awesome mountains by helicopter and experience the ice fields by dog team.
Ride through stunning scenery on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad.
Marvel at the lovely flowers of Jewell Gardens.
Whoop at the can-can dancers at the amusing Days of ‘98 Show.
Soapy Smith, whose criminal career stretched from Colorado to the Pacific, tried to take over Skagway and was shot by Frank Reid.
To keep order during the wildest period, the United States Army deployed black soldiers and stationed them in nearby Dyea, now a ghost town.
The winter winds called “williwaws” can be so strong that ropes are strung across the streets to help pedestrians keep their feet.
Within Walking Distance
Almost as soon as the gold rush ended, Skagway began taking steps to preserve its best architecture. The result of more than 100 years of preservation is a John Wayne-style shoot-‘em-up atmosphere—you’ll feel it as soon as you enter town. The National Park Service Visitor Center building was originally the depot for the White Pass & Yukon Railroad. The current depot—newer, but in the gold rush-style like almost everything in town—is next to the visitor center. Board the narrow-gauge train here for a scenic ride through the White Pass during the highlighted White Pass & Yukon Railway excursion. Ride aboard an old-fashioned parlor car retracing the original route to the summit of White Pass. Learn, against all odds, this iron trail was born because of the 1898 Klondike gold rush and built through some of the most rugged and spectacular terrain. Leave Skagway behind as the Alaskan wilderness unfolds outside your window as you climb this steep grade past the Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch. After reaching the White Pass Summit, the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada, you'll return along the same route back to Skagway and the ship.
On the Skagway Streetcar City Tour, take a "Sunday drive" along the Klondike Highway and Canada's Yukon Territory.
Beyond the Port Area
Gold Rush Cemetery, nearby Skagway, Alaska, is overgrown with spruce trees, but the graves of con man Soapy Smith and the vigilante who shot him, Frank Reid, draw the curious. North of Skagway is Dyea, the starting point for the trail over Chilkoot Pass. Little remains of the former boomtown except the view, a campground, and the nearby Slide Cemetery, where 100 victims of an avalanche on the Chilkoot Trail are buried.
Lush Gardens in Skagway
With an abundance of summer sun and much less rain than most places in southeast Alaska (about 2 ft. a year, compared with more than 16 ft. a little further south), Skagway has been called the “Flower Capital of Alaska.” On Skagway cruises, you’ll notice many businesses take special pride in their flora, including the Historic Skagway Inn and Skagway Sculpture and Flower Garden downtown, and Jewell Gardens, a mile out on the Klondike Highway.
- Most Skagway businesses take major credit cards.
- Summer temperatures in Skagway range from 42° to 64° degrees.
- A good jacket and sweater is usually enough for most cruisers, but water-resistant hats and coats are essential, since Skagway is in a rainforest on the ocean.