View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Day trip to Skagway, Alaska

I can understand why people choose to live in Whitehorse. Especially in the summertime, when you've got so many daylight hours! There is just soooo much to see and do within a two hour drive.

Yesterday, our friends Jean and Art took us in their truck for a day trip down to Skagway, Alaska... only a 160 km (100 mile) drive each way.

Here's our route map...

Whitehorse, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska.

We got underway at about 10am. 

Its not that long of a drive, but there are so many photo opportunities along the way. Our first stop was at Emerald Lake...

Such a beautiful lake!

That guy has a great location!

Next stop was the desert. Said to be the smallest desert in Canada, however technically it's not a desert because the weather isn't conducive to a desert environment. However, it does have enough sand to be a desert.

The Carcross Desert.

Seems odd to see so much sand along with fir trees!

Scenery at the town of Carcross.

When Ruth and I leave here, we will be taking the route to Carcross because there is some hiking we want to do there. So we will be showing you more of that area in a couple of days.

Bove Island in Tagish Lake.

Scenery along the way.

More scenery.

Heading up through the pass.

The relatively short drive takes you from Yukon, through northern British Columbia, and across the border into Alaska.


Bridge replacement.

Skagway is an interesting place. We knew what to expect, so we weren't really surprised to see it... but it's still a bit odd.

The town has an official year round population said to be around 1,100 people. But in the summer, that doubles. And I wouldn't be surprised if the actual numbers are much less in the winter, and much more in the summer.

Skagway is on the Alaska cruise ship circuit. And Alaska cruising has become very popular. In 2018, between May 1st and October 3rd, they expected 29 different ships to call in at Skagway a total of 418 times bringing 895,000 passengers into the little town.

Yesterday, there were four different ships docked, and they brought 11,141 passengers to the town.

It was cruise ship madness!

It's odd because there are so many people, yet not many vehicles.

There are so many different shore excursions for the cruise ship tourists.

The port at Skagway.

We treated Jean and Art to lunch at the Skagway Fish Company. A popular place, and we had to wait a while to get a seat, but it was a good meal. Art and Jean had the standard fish and chips, and Ruth and I each had a "mermaid burger without the bun". A piece of grilled halibut with chips and salad. We don't often have french fires... we enjoyed it!


Jean and Art.
We won't need much supper!

We went for a walk around the docks. Some nice boats!

Welcoming the cruise ship passengers.

The main street was busy, but not so much on the side streets.

Totem poles.

Cruise ship shuttle buses.

The Skagway visitors center was interesting.

The Red Onion Saloon was busy.
Brothel Tours, $10!

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway brings tourists up to Carcross and back.

View of the cruise ships.

From there, we drove up the Dyea Road to where the start of the Chilkoot Pass is. This is the route that the Klondike gold rush people took to get up to Dawson City. Now, it's a popular hiking trail, but you have to book in advance. Some day we'd like to do that.

The Slide Cemetery.
Almost everyone buried here was killed as a result of an avalanche on April 3, 1898. 

The Taiya River.

Fishing in the Taiya River.

The beginning of the Chilkoot Trail.

Gorgeous view of Nahku Bay in Alaska.

Heading out of town, here is another group of cruise ship tourists on shore excursion.
A van takes them to the top of the pass and they bike all the way back down to Skagway without having to do much peddling!

There's the train. We actually saw three different trains returning to Skagway.
It takes a loft of different activities to keep 11,000 people busy for a day!

Waterfall in the distance.

You can see the route of the train.

We didn't bring our hiking boots or we would have liked to hike down to that waterfall.

The train at Fraser, where the Canadian customs station is located.

At Log Cabin, where the Chilkoot Trail ends.

Whew! That was a busy day. We didn't get back to Sherman until about 7:00pm. We will definitely be coming back to this area. We love the scenery!

Today is a day of rest! Going to finish cleaning up Sherman, and then tomorrow we're heading on out of here!


And in Canada...


  1. We were on a ship last year at this time and couldn’t dock in Skagway because of a mud slide. I was so disappointed because the excursion I really wanted to take for the whole trip was the Chilkoot tour. I think it involved a bus and train trip. Maybe next time!

    1. Oh no, that would have been heartbreaking, especially when it was one excursion that you are really looking forward too! I hope that you will be able to make it there again sometime soon.

  2. You're right about gorgeous scenery! We took the train one year and enjoyed it, grateful for the pot-bellied stove that kept the car warm. Four cruise ships at one time seems "a bit" much, ya know? We were on one of them (Princess) in 2011. Too busy for our tastes now. Like you guys, I'd love to go back and do some hiking in the area.

    1. I am sure that train trip would have been gorgeous. We would love to have done it but there just wasn't enough time on this trip. There has just been so many wonderful places to explore already and we have finally run out of time.

      The town of Skagway was ok but the area between Carcross and Skagway is where we really want to go back and explore. Lots of hiking to be done in that area for sure, not to mention wanting to do the Chilkoot Trail. :-)

  3. Ah yes, that place looks more like Alaska hahaha....crowds galore. We haven't done the coast tour yet. I think I prefer to take the ferry that funs along the coast into Whittier. Lots of water falls in Alaska and more wild life and unfortunately tourist. Alaska and the Yukon are beautiful places. I've got relatives scattered along the coast into Alaska with two granddaughters living in Wasilla. Today, we are having dinner here in Phoenix for the grandkids' aunt and cousin. Cousin has enrolled at ASU.

    Going to enjoy your trip down Cassair Highway into BC.

    1. Kevin's parents took the ferry many years ago and loved it. I know that they stopped in a Skagway and I am sure that his Mom will have seen a big difference from the time she was here and what it looks like now. I think maybe we would prefer inland more where there aren't so many crowds. We still had a great day though and are glad that we went.

  4. Like so many coastal towns and cities around the world, Skagway is being overwhelmed by cruise ships. We enjoy cruising, but the crowds are becoming overwhelming ... wasn't like this even a few years ago. Nonetheless, we enjoyed renting a car when our ship called on Skagway in June and doing the drive you did ... but in reverse. Such spectacular scenery begs for a longer trip, however, and we hope to do that in a few years.

    1. Yep, I bet they are! It is incredible how many cruise ships are out there now and how often they are in use. Sorta makes me just want to stay away from them. Glad that you got to go and view the scenery between Skagway and Whitehorse. We really loved the area between Carcross and Skagway the best, especially up around the border area and summit. We could easily spend a week just in that area hiking. It looked spectacular. We really hope that you can make it back to this area and spend more time here.

  5. Since you and Kevin are looking for mountain bikes, you may have hit paydirt. I couldn't tell for sure, but wasn't some of the bikes in your photo mountain bikes? Those bike tour companies must do inventory turnover during the year, but the bikes which are decommissioned still have their sturdy frames. Just adding a new set of tires would be all you probably will need. Now, all this is predicated on the bike tour company selling two decommissioned mountain bikes very cheap.

    1. They were all mountain bikes and yes, that is something that we could look. Guaranteed though, when these bike tour companies are finished with their bikes, they will most likely need more than just new tires, that or they will fix them up enough but still ask for a high price, sort of like buying a used rental RV.

  6. Hahaha....looks like Skagway and the surrounding area have kept its allure to continue to dazzle hundreds of tourists...your blog and pictures described Skagway exactly as we saw it in 2013. That photo of Emerald Lake is stunning!

    1. The town itself was pretty enough but just way too crowded when the cruise ships are in. Now the surrounding area is a totally different story, there was certainly some beautiful scenery and some great hiking to be had. Yes, Emerald Lake was gorgeous! :-)

  7. Replies
    1. Yes, it was a wonderful day and it was an added bonus to have a couple of locals showing us around.

  8. I really liked the world's smallest desert. It wasn't exactly like an Arizona desert but neat to see.

    1. It was funny to see sand dunes in an environment like up here in the north, it sort of seemed out of place which made it so interesting. :-)

  9. We were on a cruise ship years ago visiting Skagway and dined at the same restaurant. Lovely little town. Your pictures are wonderful. Such a beautiful area to travel through. Glad you enjoyed your adventure. Travel safe.

    1. The food sure was good at that restaurant looks like you picked a good one! :-)

      The area around Skagway is beautiful. So much hiking that could be done there, it would keep us busy for a long time.

  10. We were just on one of those cruise ships last month and then did an overland tour from Seward to Anchorage and then to Denali by train and then to Fairbanks by motor coach. We fell in love with the people and the scenery we saw away from the cruise ports. That's actually how I found your blog--researching our next trip! We took the ferry from Skagway to Haines and then a fairly small jetboat (just our family) all day river and wildlife tour. It was just a stunningly beautiful place! I blogged our trip on my (normally) cooking blog. I can't wait to go back. We will definitely be doing train for at least part of that one. The train ride on the Alaska Railroad was fantastic!

    1. Sounds like you had a great adventure. A nice combination of different modes of transportation. You would definitely see a lot of different things that way.

      We love taking the trains as well and we would also like to go back and take the train ride from Skagway to Carcross and back.

      What is the name of your blog and we can check out your trip?

  11. An interesting fact about the bridge being replaced. Notice the tower and the suspension cables and that the tower is on one end of the bridge. That bridge is actually built over an active fault line and the end opposite the tower is not fixed to the ground. This allows any movement on the fault line not to damage the bridge. I suspect the new bridge would be a similar build.

    1. It is funny that you mentioned that because when I was working on labeling our pictures, I like to have names of some of the bigger or interesting bridges in my description of the photo. So when I looked up the name of the bridge I read about the history of it and that's when I read about this same info. Definitely very interesting and yes, you would think that they would do something similar on the new bridge.


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