Skagway is one of two or three major cruise ship destinations, and we knew we’d be going there via boat. But we decided to drive down from Whitehorse as well, because it’s not that far (under 2 hours), the drive is supposed to be spectacular, and we were running a bit low on things to do. So off we went…
Skagway’s raison d’etre, apart from cruise ships, is that it is the starting point for the Chilkoot Trail, a famously arduous and (in the day) densely travelled route from the coast to the Klondike gold rush. When the cruise ships are in port, which is pretty much every day in Summer, Skagway is packed from end to end with people eager to spend money in one of its many high-end jewelry stores. It’s a bit odd, being in some tiny little Alaskan town and passing these huge very posh establishments.
The landscape on the drive to Skagway is kind of unusual; this picture doesn’t capture it very well, but it is very moonscapey, all of a sudden all the trees disappear and it is just barren rock with little lakes everywhere. The entry into the US is also odd, in that the US and Canadian border stations are about 10 KM apart.
IIRC the population of Skagway fluctuates from about 800 in Winter to over 3,000 in summer. Apparently housing is very expensive in the summer. I have no idea what those 800 people do all winter. In the summer I believe it’s all about the cruise ships, which you can see in the background here.
We went on the White Pass & Yukon train, which stops at the Canadian border and is, I gather, one of the most famous railways in the world, for its scenery. It is ironic that it has never really been used much apart from for tourists; despite a record-breaking pace of construction, by the time it was built, the Klondike gold ran out. Or so they told us.
We stayed overnight at a RV park in Skagway, unfortunately the weather turned awful so we just kind of huddled up for the night.
One last odd thing in Skagway: there was a stream running parallel to the Skagway River that was literally choked full of salmon coming upstream. You can’t see it too well here, but in a square yard of water area there could have been 50 big huge fish. Never seen that before…