A Day in Skagway

The Town of Skagway

Just coming off of a cruise ship and you’ve got a full day in Skagway. How to spend that day exploring? There are a number of things to see and do here. First off, the most popular attraction is to hop on the White Pass rail, sit back and enjoy the amazing countryside all the way to the Canadian Border and back. The mountains, lakes, and waterfalls are very impressive.

White Pass Train Pulling into the Canadian Border

We choose not to do this. Why? Partially because that’s what most people do and partially because of the cost. Is there a better way to spend our time for the money spent? Turns out, this was probably a very wise choice. During the summer it is very common to have cloudy, rainy, cool weather. This translates into very poor viewing conditions. Especially the morning we were there, visibility was about 50 –100 feet. That’s not to say that the entire train ride was like that but a good portion of it was on this day. The photo below shows the visibility most of the way up the mountain. If you can believe it there is a car not far in front of us with it’s lights on and you can’t see it. Neither could we making a trip up the mountain somewhat disappointing. Especially if you paid a hefty price for each person to ride a train through this incredibly scenic country. Don’t get the wrong idea. This wouldn’t be such a popular excursion unless most people enjoyed it and saw the countryside.

Dense Fog Surrounded Us All the Way up the Mountain

What else can you do in Skagway?A walk through this gold town is interesting however also obviously a tourist spot due to all of the souvenir stores. Part of this area contains the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Very interesting information about the beginnings of Skagway and its importance in US History. Part of this park include the Chilkoot Trail. From the cruise ships there are a few excursions you can take that will give you a feel for this trail and surrounding area that many people seeking gold over a hundred years ago walked. We did enjoy a short time downtown in Skagway and learned a little about the gold rush here.

Downtown Skagway

Another option for exploring this destination in a day is to rent a car. Sourdough Rental was the company we used. It took a little extra effort to reserve the rental but worked out quite well. We had three cars for our entire group and all of them had over 120,000 miles on them and all of them got us to where we wanted to go without any problems. Since the cruise ship was docked at this port for 13 hours we had plenty of time and flexibility with the freedom of our own car for the day to explore the many sights not available within walking distance of the ship. In addition, the cost was the same as one person taking the White Pass rail to Canada and back with more comfortable seats. Only we had five people in the car.

Our Rental Car

Sourdough Rental is a short walk from the port and they provide a suggested itinerary that allows you to see the  mountains, national park, and possibly wildlife at certain times of the day. That’s all for another post or two coming up however, the drive into the mountains is on the Klondike Highway which essentially follows the White Pass rail lines which is how we knew what conditions the train drove through. So if you’re feeling adventurous while in Skagway, a rental car may be the way to explore this area. Just make sure of one thing – keep track of time so you don’t miss your ship!

The Port in Skagway

4 thoughts on “A Day in Skagway”

  1. I’ll have to look into this when I go to Skagway. Useful money saving tip as cruising in Alaska is already so expensive. Any regrets about missing the train?

    1. There is possibly one. I still have not been on a train and neither have my kids. Otherwise, I’m completely satisfied with our excursion using a car.

    1. Looking at the post from your point, I can see how that could be the title. Maybe I should contact the car rental place and ask for an advertising fee. Watch for posts on the Klondike Highway and Chilkoot Trail to read more on what we did there.

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