Nestled in the heart of Southeast Alaska, Skagway is a charming town with a rich history and breathtaking natural beauty. Surrounded by majestic mountains and the stunning Lynn Canal, Skagway offers a plethora of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and nature lovers alike. Whether you’re visiting for a day or planning a longer stay, here are some remarkable things to do in Skagway, Alaska.
- Step Back in Time with a Historic Walking Tour:
Skagway’s Gold Rush history comes alive as you stroll through the streets lined with well-preserved buildings from the late 19th century. Take a historic walking tour and immerse yourself in the tales of prospectors and adventurers who sought their fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush. The Red Onion Saloon, the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, and the Mascot Saloon are must-visit landmarks that provide fascinating insights into the town’s past.
- Ride the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad:
Embark on an unforgettable journey aboard the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, an engineering marvel that winds through breathtaking landscapes. As you climb 2,865 feet to the summit of White Pass, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, cascading waterfalls, and deep gorges. This scenic train ride is a photographer’s dream and a testament to the tenacity of the Gold Rush stampeders.
- Explore the Chilkoot Trail:
For adventurous souls, the Chilkoot Trail offers an opportunity to retrace the steps of gold seekers who trekked through the rugged wilderness in search of riches. This historic trail spans 33 miles and crosses the border into Canada. Hiking a portion of the trail provides a glimpse into the challenges faced by those who embarked on this arduous journey, while also showcasing the pristine beauty of the surrounding mountains and forests.
- Experience Wildlife in the Tongass National Forest:
Skagway is located within the vast Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rainforest in the United States. Immerse yourself in nature by embarking on a wildlife-watching excursion. Keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead, playful seals and sea lions in the waters, and even the chance to spot black bears or mountain goats. Guided hikes and kayaking tours offer an intimate encounter with the region’s diverse ecosystem.
- Discover Glacier Bay National Park:
Just a short boat or plane ride from Skagway lies Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its glaciers, fjords, and marine wildlife. Join a glacier cruise and marvel at the massive tidewater glaciers as they calve into the sea, creating dramatic displays of ice and water. Keep your binoculars ready to spot humpback whales, orcas, seals, and porpoises that call this pristine wilderness home.
- Sample Local Delights:
Indulge your taste buds with Alaskan delicacies at the local eateries and breweries in Skagway. Try fresh seafood like Alaskan king crab or salmon, savor reindeer sausage, and enjoy delectable dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients. Quench your thirst with craft beers brewed using pure glacier water or sample unique flavors at the Skagway Spirits Distillery.
- Take a Glacier Helicopter Tour:
For a truly awe-inspiring experience, take to the skies on a helicopter tour that offers a bird’s-eye view of the mesmerizing glaciers and icy landscapes. Fly over majestic glaciers, such as the Meade Glacier or the Davidson Glacier, and witness the sheer beauty and scale of these frozen wonders. Capture breathtaking photos and create memories that will stay with you forever.
- Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park:
Immerse yourself in the captivating history of the Klondike Gold Rush at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center. Explore interactive exhibits, watch informative films, and delve into the stories of the gold seekers who flocked to Skagway in search of fortune. Take part in ranger-led programs and guided walks to gain deeper insights into this fascinating era.
- Go Fishing in the Lynn Canal:
The Lynn Canal, a deep fjord that stretches from Skagway to Juneau, offers excellent fishing opportunities. Join a fishing charter and try your hand at catching salmon, halibut, rockfish, and more. Enjoy the thrill of reeling in a big catch while surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Fishing enthusiasts of all levels will appreciate the abundance of fish in these pristine waters.
- Visit the Skagway Museum and Archives:
Discover more about Skagway’s history and culture at the Skagway Museum and Archives. Explore exhibits that showcase artifacts, photographs, and stories of the region’s Native American heritage, the Gold Rush era, and the development of Skagway as a bustling port town. Gain a deeper understanding of the town’s significance and its impact on Alaska’s history.
- Take a Kayaking Adventure:
Embark on a kayaking adventure and paddle through the calm waters of the Inside Passage. Explore secluded bays, narrow fjords, and hidden coves while surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Kayaking allows you to get up close to wildlife, such as seals, otters, and seabirds, while enjoying the tranquility of the Alaskan wilderness.
- Attend a Local Event or Festival:
Skagway hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, offering a glimpse into the town’s vibrant community spirit. From the Skagway Arts Council’s Summer Concert Series to the Skagway Brewfest, there’s always something happening. Check the local calendar to see if any events align with your visit, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Skagway’s social scene.
- Explore the Dyea Ghost Town:
Just a short drive from Skagway lies the Dyea Ghost Town, a once-thriving community during the Gold Rush era. Today, the remnants of the town offer a haunting glimpse into the past. Walk along the trails that lead to the Chilkoot Trailhead, visit the historic cemetery, and imagine the bustling activity that once took place in this now-silent place.
- Go Dog Sledding on a Glacier:
Experience the exhilaration of dog sledding on a glacier with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Board a helicopter and fly to a remote glacier, where a team of enthusiastic sled dogs awaits. Learn about the history and tradition of dog sledding, take a thrilling ride through the icy landscapes, and interact with the friendly and hardworking sled dogs.
- Relax and Unwind in the Hot Springs:
After an adventurous day, treat yourself to a relaxing soak in the nearby natural hot springs. Indulge in the healing waters surrounded by serene wilderness, allowing the warm mineral-rich waters to rejuvenate your body and mind. It’s the perfect way to unwind and reflect on your Skagway adventures.
Skagway, Alaska, is a destination that seamlessly combines history, natural wonders, and outdoor adventures. From immersing yourself in the town’s Gold Rush past to exploring the awe-inspiring landscapes and encountering the region’s wildlife, Skagway offers an array of unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re seeking cultural enrichment, thrilling outdoor activities, or simply a serene connection with nature, Skagway will captivate your heart and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.