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Things to do in Skagway Alaska from a cruise ship!

Updated: Mar 17

Skagway Alaska is a charming and popular destination in Alaska, known for its rich history, stunning natural scenery, unique blend of adventure and small-town charm. Skagway is located in the southeastern part of the state and has a key part in history due to the gold rush of the late 1800s. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy while visiting, and even ghost stories from all the tragedies from traveling from Skagway to the mines in Alaska or the Yukon Territory of Canada. Today I will be telling you about the things you can do in Skagway Alaska from a cruise ship. The best attractions, and restaurants. But also, I will give a small list of accommodations for when you decide a cruise is not enough and want to plan a vacation here to stay for an extended period of time.


Just outside of Skagway
Just outside of Skagway

Unlike Juneau Alaska where you can only get there by boat or plane, you can reach Skagway by car, which is great. I talked to a few people that drove up from Utah while I was visiting. Of course, it took them a couple days, but they told me it was a wonderful trip. When I visited Skagway, it was on a Norwegian Cruise Ship called the Jewel (which I absolutely loved). This is a very popular tourist destination for cruise ships, all the major cruise lines pay Skagway a visit. On the day I visited I rode the White Pass Train. The only issue with cruise ship travel is that you may not be able to see all the sights, check out all the restaurants, or use any accommodations. But cruising is still one of the best ways to see the world, and an Alaska cruise is a wonderful way to explore the last frontier.



Attractions:

White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad
White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad
  • White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad: This historic railroad offers breathtaking views of the mountains and glaciers in the surrounding area as it winds through narrow canyons and over steep mountain passes. It is hard to believe that in the late 1800’s people were climbing the mountain pass, hunting for gold. I highly recommend this tour, the history you learn about the gold miners plus the scenery make it the best. You go up the White Pass summit on the train then back down on a bus. It takes you up into Canada (British Columbia) for a few minutes. But the tour continues onto the Yukon Territory where you will see the actual Tundra, and the northernmost desert in the world. (I am not joking, it's a real sand desert) Plus visit the little town of Carcross, Canada. The area is absolutely breathtaking and one of the best ways to see this magnificent area. There is even a chance to see sled dogs while near Carcross. The train ride is a fantastic way to experience the region's history while enjoying panoramic vistas. While looking up at the craggy rock cliffs you might even see mountain goats. This is the most popular tour to take as a shore excursion, so book early, if possible, to avoid being sold out. Here is the link to doing this as a bus route instead of train. Train maybe sold out for the 2024 season.

Welcome to Alaska sign
Welcome to Alaska sign
  • Chilkoot Trail and Lake: The scenic hiking trail follows the same route that gold miners took during the Klondike Gold Rush, offering a glimpse into the challenges they faced as they traversed the rugged terrain. Glance into the trees, if you see some white in the trees and it's too warm to be snowy, you know it's a bald eagle. The Bald Eagle Preserve is located nearby in Chilkoot Lake, so there are tons of bald eagles in the area. Wildlife viewing is amazing as there are chances to see bears and moose. There are kayak tours, canoe rentals and other hiking paths at the lake also.

  • Lower Dewey Lake Trail: This hike will immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes. You can also go kayaking or take a boat tour to explore the nearby fjords and coastal areas. This is the best lake around for some water activities.

  • Historic District: Skagway Alaska's historic district has been well-preserved, with many buildings and structures dating back to the gold rush era. Visitors can take a walking tour to learn about the town's history and see some of its most iconic landmarks. Explore local boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir stores, or stop by one of the cozy cafes or restaurants to savor some Alaskan cuisine. Skagway's downtown area exudes a nostalgic charm with its colorful buildings, wooden boardwalks, and unique shops.

  • Watch the salmon run at Pullen Creek Steamwalk. Midsummer Is the best time, but the salmon can be seen throughout the cruise season, it just might be less in spring or late summer.

Glacier Bay
Glacier Bay
  • Glacier Bay National Park: Located just a short distance from Skagway, but still in Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers. Visitors can take a boat tour to see glaciers up close, as well as spot whales, seals, and other marine wildlife. But it will be a couple hour boat ride. You will see seals, and hearing the ice fall into the ocean is weird, but an amazing experience. Usually, cruise ships make a pass through here on their route, but I had to mention it just in case.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park: This park is dedicated to preserving the history of the Klondike Gold Rush and offers exhibits, films. The National Park Service has ranger-led programs available to do. The park has two locations, one in Skagway Alaska and one in Seattle, Washington.

  • Haines, Alaska: This picturesque town is located just a short ferry ride from Skagway and is known for its stunning scenery, outdoor activities, and cultural attractions. Visitors can take a guided tour of the historic Fort William H. Seward or go kayaking or rafting on the Chilkat River or explore nature with a wildlife viewing adventure. There is even a Jet boat adventure in Haines.

Future Dog Sledder in the Yukon
Future Dog Sledder in the Yukon
  • The Yukon Suspension Bridge is a great way to see the wilderness and is easily accessible by the South Klondike Highway, and accessible from both the United States and Canada. The bridge itself is actually located past the Canadian border if coming from Alaska. If you cannot do the White Pass Train I would choose this option, it will still be slightly more expensive than other shore excursions but well worth it to say you crossed the border into Canada. While visiting take a glance at the Tutshi River rushing below the bridge, spot the glaciers nearby and smell the crisp fresh air while outside in nature. While there look at the Mammoth bones that are on site to see.

  • The Skagway Visitor Center is a great place to stop by and get free guides for hiking trails, the history of Skagway, plus other info about the area. The Visitor Center building is quite unique, so take a glance at the outside of the structure. It was built in 1899 with thousands of pieces of driftwood. This is one of the most photographed buildings in Skagway because of its unique looks.

  • Gold Rush Cemetery is a neat place to visit, as it is the oldest cemetery in Skagway. Many gold miners are buried here including Jefferson “Soapy'' Smith and the man who found the largest gold nugget in the area. You can explore the Lower Reid Falls while walking to this cemetery from town. There are a couple of other cemeteries in the area like Pioneer Cemetery and Slide Cemetery which is located 10 miles up the road and close to the old town of Dyea. Dyea is basically a ghost town compared to the gold rush days.

  • Have you ever wanted to zipline through the trees? In Skagway there is Grizzly Falls Zipline Adventure. If you are adventurous this is a great way to explore the tree lined mountains of Alaska with 10 ziplines, suspension bridges and more, you will have a fun day in the trees if you take this excursion. This tends to be the most expensive zipline adventure in Skagway, but the best from my research.

  • Klondike Adventure Park also has a zipline park, but it is not as large and Grizzly Falls Zipline. So, if you want to try ziplining but don't want to pay the price of Grizzly Falls try Klondike Adventure Park instead. You will not be disappointed in the 5 rope courses they have.

Salmon Bake
Salmon Bake
  • A Salmon Bake is a great way to eat amazing food, meet people, and experience the culture of Alaska. Some salmon bake excursions offer other activities with the excursion, like gold panning. I tried the gold panning and did not have much luck, hopefully you will do better than me.

  • If you like to drive and think jeeps are the best for your adventure you can purchase a self-guided tour on a jeep, where you can basically go where you want. Travel across to Canada and see all the other sites this port stop has to offer.

  • There are even entertainment performances in town, like “The days of 98 show featuring Soapy Smith” which has been performed since 1923, and another show stage called Dedman Stage that might be giving performances while you are there.

  • Other things you can do are mountain bike riding, dog sledding, helicopter tours to see glaciers, and rafting adventures. There is even a Hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Skagway.

Restaurants:

The tundra near the Canadian Border from Skagway
The tundra near the Canadian Border from Skagway
  • Skagway Brewing Company: This local brewery offers tasty craft beers as well as pub fare like burgers, sandwiches, and pizza. The atmosphere is lively, with live music and events throughout the week.

  • Skagway Fish Company: Located on the waterfront, Skagway Fish Company is known for its fresh seafood, including salmon, halibut, and crab. The restaurant also offers a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Red Onion Saloon
Red Onion Saloon
  • The Red Onion Saloon: This historic saloon and brothel-turned-museum serves up hearty pub fare and cocktails. The second floor features a museum that offers tours of the former brothel rooms and artifacts from Skagway's Gold Rush era. Some claim it is haunted, you should come here and check it out yourself.

  • Olivia's Bistro: This cozy Italian restaurant offers a range of Italian dishes, including pasta, pizza, and seafood as well as a selection of wine and beer. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with friendly service and a family-friendly environment.

  • The Station Bar & Grill: This casual restaurant serves up burgers, sandwiches, salads, and other American favorites, as well as a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails. The atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, with plenty of TVs for sports fans. The Station bar and grill is located at the Morning Wood Hotel.

  • Klondike Doughboy: Their Fry Bread is huge and amazing, covered in cinnamon sugar and large enough to share, it is one of the must eats of Skagway. They also have chocolates, jams and jellies for sale.

  • BBQ Shack: A great place for BBQ of course, but their Caribou burgers are the best from my research.

  • Bonanza Bar and Grill is a seafood lover's dream, with wonderful Halibut dishes and large portion sizes.

  • If you are in the mood for Pizza, Northern Light Pizza is the place you should stop in. They have been open for 30 years, so you know they know pizza.

Accommodations:

For those of you that are here by car instead of cruise ship, the list below is the best places to lay your head in the area. Who knows you might come here initially on a cruise but want to take a week's vacation here on a future trip to explore the wilds of Skagway Alaska even more.

From railroad
From Railroad
  • Westmark Inn Skagway: Located in the heart of downtown, the Westmark Inn Skagway offers comfortable rooms and suites with modern amenities, including a fitness center, onsite restaurant, and free Wi-Fi.

  • Historic Skagway Inn: Housed in a historic building dating back to the gold rush era, the Historic Skagway Inn offers cozy rooms with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning and relax in the common areas or outdoor garden. Some say it is haunted. You should stay here and decide for yourself.

White House Inn
White House Inn
  • The White House Inn: This charming bed and breakfast is located just a short walk from downtown Skagway and offers spacious rooms and suites with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning and relax on the outdoor patio or in the hot tub. Built in 1902 and was a hospital, and a daycare in the past. Also, there are claims that it is haunted.

  • Morning Wood Hotel is located in the heart of Skagway, offering comfortable accommodations and has a restaurant on site. As mentioned earlier in this post, the Station Bar and Grill is located here.

  • Pullen Creek RV Park: For those looking for a more rustic accommodation option, Pullen Creek RV Park offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and easy access to hiking trails and other outdoor activities. The park has RV sites as well as cabins and tent sites available for rent.

  • Skagway Mountain View RV Park: Another great option for RV lovers, Skagway Mountain View RV Park is located just outside of town and offers spacious sites with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The park also has a picnic area and fire pit for guests to enjoy.

Skagway in southeast Alaska truly offers the best blend of history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventures that make it a beloved destination for visitors in Alaska by car or by cruise line. Whether you're interested in immersing yourself in the gold rush history, exploring the stunning landscapes, or enjoying outdoor activities, Skagway has something for everyone to enjoy.



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Guest
Nov 25, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Alaska is definitely on my bucket list! Everything I read about Alaska, every photo I've seen of the state, it makes me want to go there because it looks so gorgeous, the scenery and everything! :)

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