Skagway is a town with a population of less than a thousand in south-eastern Alaska, the largest state in the United States of America. It is the northern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System. It sprang up during the Yukon gold rush in the late 1800s, and now subsists almost entirely on tourism. The historical interest and natural beauty of the area make it a worthwhile place to visit.
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Data from NOAA (1981-2010)
The most common way to get to Skagway is by boat, whether cruise ship or Alaska Marine Highway ferry. It is also accessible by commuter flight from Juneau, and by car or via the Canadian South Klondike Highway.
The city is only a few blocks wide and a couple dozen blocks long, on level ground; walking works just fine. S.M.A.R.T. City Transit provides small buses around town and to and from the cruise ship docks. Bus fare for the short route that travels from the cruise ship docks to Broadway and 8th Street costs $2 per trip or $5 for an all-day pass. Buses run from May 1 - October 1, 7AM-9PM, 7 days a week. The fare for the bus route that goes from Broadway and 8th street along State Street to Jewel Gardens and Klondike Gold Fields is $5.
Start by stepping away from any buildings and turning 360 degrees for an impressive view of the nearby peaks that enclose Skagway.
- Visitors Center, Broadway (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). Summer daily 8AM-6PM. Staffed and has walking tour and trail maps available. The driftwood-faced building is among the most photographed in Alaska.
- Skagway Museum and Archives (Seventh and Spring Streets), ☎ +1 907-983-2420. Photos and artifacts from Old Skaguay including a Tlingit canoe, a Portland Cutter sleigh and Bering Sea kayaks as well as Gold Rush era tools, baskets, beadwork and carvings. Also gold rush genealogy research. $2.
- Jewell Gardens (on the highway just beyond the river), ☎ +1 907-983-2111. Unique flowers and vegetables, including some giants.
- Footbridge to Yakutania Point & Smuggler's Cove (south of airport terminal off First Ave). Trails, exercise course, picnic spots.
- Skagway Sculpture Garden (8th and Spring Streets).
- Skagway Overlook, Mile 2 on Dyea Rd. Turnoff and platform.
- Gold Rush Cemetery, Alaska St. Old cemetery which includes the grave of Jefferson "Soapy" Smith and "The Largest Nugget in the World" which is really just a giant boulder painted gold. Trolley tours offered to the cemetery, but if you wish to walk from downtown it will take about 20 minutes.
- Mountain Flying Service (Glacier Bay Flightseeing), 132 2nd Ave (3 doors down from the visitors center in Haines, or at the Airport in Skagway), ☎ +1 907 766-3007. Mountain Flying Service does charter flights and flightseeing out of Skagway and Haines primarily. They have a spectacular plane with very large windows for flightseeing. Paul the pilot has been flying tours in the area longer than anyone else.
- White Pass & Yukon Route, 2nd Av, toll-free: +1-800-343-7373. Railroad was built to transport miners from Skagway to the gold. It was in service until the early 1980s, servicing the Yukon's Mining Industry. Today, a portion of the railroad is restored and still in operation. An out-and-back day trip offers great views as the train snakes along the sides of mountains overlooking the river far below; although it goes into Canada, passports aren't required because you don't get off the train. The restored/replica passenger cars feature reversible seats so that passengers face forward both outbound and when the train reverses course to return to Skagway. Excursions start from $110. International trips to Fraser and Bennett Lake, British Columbia are also available. The railroad also offers a transport service for Hiker's returning from Bennett Lake after completing the Chilkoot Trail.
There is no shortage of shops along Skagway's main street (actually Broadway Street, one block from Main), offering an array of standard tourist souvenirs, native/local crafts and imported imitations, jewelry, and other goods. Here are a few:
- Granny's Gallery, 272 State St, ☎ +1 907-983-2775. Antique native carvings, art and jewelry.
- Temptations Fashion Boutique for Ladies, 5th (between Broadway & State), ☎ +1 907-983-2452.
- Precious Collections Gallery (Northwest Supernatural Art), 4th and Broadway, ☎ +1 425 306-8297. 10AM-7PM. Special showing of Alaskan Multimedia Artist, Tresham Gregg, working in woodcarvings, silk screen prints, tribal jewelry, puppets, paintings, and more. Plus exotic silver and stone jewelry.
A few restaurants and bars along the main street offering a variety of brews and cooking provide a pleasant alternative to - or break from - shopping and excursions.
- You Say Tomato, State St (at 21st Ave), ☎ +1 907 983-2784. Natural whole foods, fresh bread and produce, provisions for hikers.
- Skagway Fish Co., Congress Way (in the red building), ☎ +1 907 983. FISH. Halibut fish and chips, Alaskan king crab.
- The Stowaway Cafe, 205 Congress Way (in the aqua building), ☎ +1 907 983. DINE. More upscale and overlooking the small boat harbor.
- Red Onion Saloon (2nd and Broadway). Has that Gold Rush era feel. "Meet the Ladies of '98".
- Alaskan Sojourn Hostel, 488 8th Ave (at Main), ☎ +1 907 983-2040, e-mail: email@example.com. One male dorm, one female dorm, one co-ed dorm, and one private room (sleeps 2). Kitchen facilities and outdoor barbecue. No lockouts or curfew. Open May through September. $25 dorms, $75 private room.
- Skagway Home Hostel, 3rd and Main St, ☎ +1 907 983-2131. Check-in: 5:30PM-10:30PM. Kitchen facilities, outdoor barbecue, free internet. Guests are assigned one chore. Same-sex dorms (sleeps 3 each) inside the main house; co-ed dorm in a bunkhouse in back (sleeps 8). People with pet allergies note that there is one cat and one dog living in the hostel. $15 co-ed dorm, $20 same-sex dorm.
Bed and Breakfast
- Pullen Creek RV Park, toll-free: +1-800-936-3731.
- Skagway Mountain View RV Park (12th and Broadway), ☎ +1-888-778-7700.
As of 2013, cellular users in Skagway and Haines have reported substantial network delays due to the load placed on existing infrastructure when passengers from multiple arriving cruise ships access the system simultaneously. An upgrade to 4G is planned but not yet implemented.