We first visited Skagway Alaska while on a Royal Caribbean Inside Passage cruise in 1998. The entire town is a National Park Historic Site, the Klondike Gold Rush. The day we arrived was exactly the 100th anniversary of the death of Soapy Smith the legendary outlaw sheriff of the town. The White Pass & Yukon Route railroad is a historic narrow gauge train running excursions with vintage steam and diesel locomotives. History and trains, we were enthralled and knew we would return.
We arrived in our motorhome July 1st, 2015. The drive from the Yukon towns of Tagish and Carcross was beautiful. We traveled through the coastal mountain pass in dense fog and dropping temps, then rain. Skagway is still the National Historic Park which preserves and presents much of the history. On the other hand the cruise industry has taken over much of the shopping with the usual zillion jewelry stores. The good news is that their success feeds the National Park Service efforts to restore and preserve the history. A percentage of store sales goes directly to the local NPS efforts.
The White Pass & Yukon Route does a great job running many trains daily and a steam train several times per week. We rode the train to Lake Bennet and chased the steam train up toward White Pass. The railroad was built in 1899-1900 to serve the mines of the Klondike near Dawson City Yukon. The Klondike Gold Rush was worldwide sensation drawing stampeders to the shortest route to the goldfields. Skagway sits at the end of a long fjord, the Lynn Canal, in Southeast Alaska still accessible only by ship or the one highway from the Yukon.
While staying in Skagway we took the fast ferry to visit the town of Haines Alaska. Haines also has an interesting history and gorgeous location. We also toured the historic site of Dyea, a town eclipsed by Skagway with the advent of the railroad. There are many great hiking trails around Skagway and NPS ranger led hikes. Skagway is a great tourist destination with a story to tell.