10 Reasons to Visit Skagway
#1 Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park was authorized in 1976 to preserve and interpret the history of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98. The park consists of four units: a six-block historic business district, the Chilkoot Trail, a corridor comprising the White Pass Trail, and a visitor center at 319 Second Ave S (Pioneer Square), Seattle, Washington.
#2 White Pass & Yukon Route
Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the White Pass and Yukon Route Narrow Gauge Railway is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This is a designation shared with the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. The WP&YR Railway gains nearly 3,000 feet in 20 miles all while providing unsurpassable views of waterfalls, gorges, glaciers, trestles and historic sites via their vintage rail cars
#3 Garden City of Alaska
In 1910, the Skagway Commercial Club declared Skagway “Garden City of Alaska” and it stuck! Our fertile soil, adequate moisture and long summer days translate into bountiful crops. In fact, for many years the Blanchard Garden held the record for America’s largest Dahlia. In the early 1900’s a local jeweler, Herman Kirmse, sponsored a local garden contest that became so successful it attracted many people outside of Alaska.
#4 The Chilkoot Trail
The Chilkoot Trail, “the world’s longest outdoor museum” is the beginning of the route to the Yukon Goldfields. It provides a thrilling 33 miles of spectacular hiking from tidewater at Dyea to Bennett Lake in Canada (17 trail miles in US; 16 miles in Canada). This is by far the most challenging endeavor you can partake in, but also the most rewarding. Persons considering this adventure should visit the Trail Center on Broadway, between 5th and 6th Avenues, open from May to September.
The once bustling town of Dyea is now cherished by locals and visitors alike for its quiet beauty. However, Dyea’s history as a settlement is much older than its rival gold rush city, Skagway. At the foot of the Chilkoot Trail, Dyea was established several centuries ago as a summer camp by the Tlingit Natives. Dyea saw its first visitors from afar in 1867 when the United States purchased Alaska. The first documented white man crossed the Chilkoot Pass with the permission of the Tlingits in 1874. By 1897 the city was filling with gold seekers and flourished to approximately 10,000 people. But as quickly as it boomed, Dyea suddenly dwindled and almost disappeared due to a fatal avalanche and the construction of the railroad in Skagway. Now, Dyea is connected to Skagway by an 8 mile coastal road and is popular for recreating.
#6 The Hiking
You only need to take one step in Skagway to realize you are in a place of unsurpassable beauty. There is no better way to truly experience its grandness than to go for a hike. The Skagway Visitors Center is a great place to pick up a Skagway Trail Map and Guide to all the local hikes. The best part is the variety of hikes Skagway has to offer. You can start small with an easy hike out to Yakutania Point, only 1.6 miles roundtrip. Or you can go real big and conquer the famous Chilkoot Trail, a strenuous 33 miles one way.
#7 Golden Circle Route
The Golden Circle is a 360 mile loop connecting the Alaska Highway and Haines Highway. While you could take just a day or two to do the Golden Circle, its unsurpassable beauty will convince you to spend much longer. The Route will take you from picturesque Skagway, Alaska to the Capital of the Yukon, Whitehorse via the Klondike Highway. From Whitehorse you will make your way to the hub of the Kluane Region, Haines Junction. From there you will travel through the Tatshenshini-Alsek and Kluane National Park to Haines, Alaska. From Haines, return to Skagway via the Historic Alaska Marine Highway.
#8 The Glaciers
There are very few places in the world, especially that are accessible, that you can see and touch glaciers! In Skagway you can actually see one from our backyard, the Harding Glacier. If you are willing to get a little more adventurous there are a number of tours that will allow you to see them up close and personal. Take a helicopter to go on a glacier trek or a train and hike through beautiful mountains and up a valley to visit either the Laughton or Denver Glacier. Glaciers are a must see for any Skagway visit!
#9 The Water
Skagway is all about the water! In fact many of our visitors arrive by it! And for those that don’t you can take a Motorized Raft to explore the Lynn Canal, the deepest and longest fjord in North America. We have many adventure tours in town that allow you to experience the beautiful lakes and streams around us. You can go kayaking on Fraser Lake or Raft down the Taiya River for example. If you are looking for something more relaxing and self-guided you can walk up to Lower Reid Falls past the Gold Rush Cemetery or to Lower Dewey Lake and relax by the water. No matter what you do in Skagway you will find a beautiful body of water.
#10 The People
And one of the absolute best parts about Skagway is the people. While the year round population may be small, they are big in character! Make sure to take a moment to stop by one Skagway’s museums, eateries or local businesses and chat with a Skagwegian. They are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet with plenty of great stories and they are all very proud of our town.