Located on the Alaskan Panhandle, the small city of Skagway is best known for being the gateway to the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s. With only one day to visit, you’ll have time to see historic downtown Skagway and enjoy an outdoor adventure. Here's how.
Things to do in Skagway
Welcome to Skagway
The Klondike Gold Rush ended a century ago, but the “Call of the Wild” is still strong in Alaska’s historic frontier town of Skagway. North of Juneau, Skagway entices visitors to discover the Yukon Territory’s mining past and spectacular wilderness of forests, glaciers, mountains, and waterfalls. In the late 1800s, prospectors stopped here on their way to the gold fields further north, but today, this tiny settlement on the Taiya Inlet is a popular cruise-ship stop for Skagway shore excursions. Experience what life was like for those first plucky miners on a city tour of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park downtown, with its original clapboard buildings and period wooden boardwalk. Go back in time to a 19th century mining outpost and pan for gold at Liarsville Camp, hike the Chilkoot Trail gold-rush route, and stop at the Gold Rush Cemetery. Don't miss the Skagway Scenic Overlook for snapshot-worthy views of the mountains above and the town below. Skagway has long been the gateway town to the surrounding peaks, so hop aboard the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, a narrow-gauge line that switchbacks up steep tracks to the White Pass summit as far as Emerald Lake. Take a bus tour along the Klondike Highway towards Canada, or go dog sledding through the countryside. Meet Alaska's wild eagles, beavers, brown bears, moose, and waterbirds up close and personal at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, or chance a sighting by kayaking along the Chilkat River.
Top 10 attractions in Skagway
The Klondike is synonymous with the gold rush days of the late 19th century, when the frontier settlement of Skagway exploded from a population of just two to 20,000 in a mere 10 years. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park protects the memory of these days, preserving the trails, towns and buildings of the gold rush era. Skagway was the gateway town to the gold of the Klondike, which lay 550 miles (885km) north, near the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers in Dawson City. The Chilkoot Trail is the most famous of the gold rush routes followed by the miners, originally created by the Tlingit people. The park also preserves the downtown Skagway Historic District and its prized collection of authentic 100-year-old wooden buildings, including the fun Mascot Saloon and historic Moore House and Cabin. Drop into the park’s visitor center to watch the video about the area’s gold rush history and pick up information about the local trails....
The Gold Rush Cemetery is a fascinating place, allowing a glimpse into the past of the area’s people. The dates listed on the stones date back to 1897, and one of the most famous is that of Jefferson “Soapy” Smith, a notorious con artist and Old West gangster, known for opening businesses where he quietly robbed his customers and for manipulating political campaigns. Visitors will also find the graves of many individuals involved in the Gold Rush, while an informative entrance display provides even more insight into the cemetery and its inhabitants....
Located in Skagway, the Liarsville Camp brings Gold Rush history to the present. The camp offers a number of memorable experiences and is especially great for families wanting an educational yet fun experience. Along with its beautiful surrounding scenery that includes a waterfall and White Pass, the camp is also known for its salmon bakes. Meals at Liarsville are all-you-can-eat and consist of wood-fire grilled Alaskan salmon, chicken, rice, corn bread, pasta beans, salad and cake. Even with the enticing food, the main draw is the gold panning experience. Visitors get to try their hand at the historic activity and can even keep their findings. The camp also has a comedic performance involving sourdoughs and dancehall girls that keeps the audience laughing and is complemented by a reading of the poem, “Bard of the North” by Robert Service, who was known for his Yukon-inspired poetry. Don’t leave without exploring the old trail camp!...
Taking a ride on the narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon Railroad is a fun way to see spectacular historic scenery from a train inching up steep tracks that were carved out of the side of the mountains. A number of routes take you through White Pass, which travels from Alaska to Canada on historic trains. You begin your journey on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway. The summit excursion takes you 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Skagway to the White Pass Summit, 2,865 feet (873 meters) high. Another trip takes you up to the summit, then down to British Columbia. The historic cars are more than 100 years old, and you’ll definitely get a sense of how travelers in the late 19th century got around. While you’re traveling you’ll see breathtaking mountain and forest vistas – you may even see a bear or caribou frolicking about....
Skagway is known as the Garden City of Alaska, and the Jewell Gardens of Skagway is one reason why. Combining gorgeously landscaped grounds and the Garden City Glassworks, it’s a popular excursion for independent travelers and cruise ship shore visitors alike. Stroll the gardens at your own pace, or take a guided tour of the grounds. Bulbs and tulips thrive in May, and summertime is a riot of color. Glassworks tours reveal the mysteries of the art of glassblowing, and offer visitors the chance to have a go at creating their own glass ornament, under the watchful eye of a professional glass artist. The ‘blow your own’ glassblowing tour and demonstration theater can be combined with a garden tour and organic afternoon tea or gourmet lunch served in the grounds....
If you’d like to learn more about Skagway’s gold rush days, step inside the Skagway Museum to browse its fine collection. Artifacts, photographs, memorabilia and archival material bring the past alive, and sleds and gold-mining equipment reveal the harsh realities of life on the goldfields....
Back in the gold rush days, Skagway was notorious as one of the hardest-drinking towns in the world. The Mascot Saloon Museum is dry as a bone these days, but during the gold rush it was one of more than 70 saloons serving up beer, whiskey and wine, and plenty of it....
Alaska 360, known as Dredge Town, is home of the Klondike Gold Dredge. The historic dredge weighs 350 tons and once helped gold miners sift through dirt and sand to find gold during the 1898 Alaskan Gold Rush. One of more than 120 gold dredges used during the time, it now offers an interesting look into the past. Dredge masters show visitors exactly how this amazing piece of equipment worked and even give tours of the inside rooms. Historic photographs, educational films, artifacts and costumed actors enhance the experience....
A century ago, Skagway was the gateway to the gold fields of the Klondike. Today, the scenic cruise port still has the feel of its Gold Rush past, complete with an historic downtown filled with false front buildings and wooden sidewalks. It’s one of Alaska’s most popular ports of call and a departure point for exploring the vast Yukon....
Following the Chilkoot Trail is to take a journey into the past, to the time before the gold-rush era of prospectors when the Tlingit people used the route to trade coastal products for pelts and plants with the people of the interior. The trail is a significant historic site, and has been described as ‘the world’s longest outdoor museum.' The 33-mile (53km) trail is for walkers only, who take three to five days to follow the often difficult route that in gold-rush days was the most direct path from the port at Skagway to the gold fields of the Yukon. The route was shorter than White Pass but more deadly. Prospectors taking the Chilkoot route were advised to carry a ton of gear and rations, enough to ensure self-sufficiency for one year. Alternative transportation systems devised to help carry their infamous ton of gear included aerial tramways, pack animals and Tlingit porters....
Top activities in Skagway
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- Yukon Dog Sledding Adventure in Skagway
- Skagway Shore Excursion: Half-Day Tour to the Yukon Border and Suspension Bridge
- White Pass Deluxe Tour from Skagway
- Sled Dog Discovery in Skagway
- White Pass Summit and Yukon Suspension Bridge Tour
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