Port of Call: Skagway, Alaska
With a colourful history dating all the way back to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, Skagway is one of Alaska’s most popular destinations. More than 100 years after its heady heyday it has retained its gold rush atmosphere with quaint 19th century architecture, wooden sidewalks, restored clapboard storefronts and charming eateries.
An integral part of Skagway’s past, the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad is now operated exclusively for tourists. Those wanting to experience a little history can follow the original gold rush route into neighbouring Canada.
Skagway’s official population is approximately 900 residents, however its pulling power as a tourist destination means that more than 750,000 people visit every year. This popular town is known for its incredible scenery, charming Alaskan hospitality and fascinating history. Be sure to pick up a memento of your trip – shop along Broadway to find stores selling jewellery made from gold nuggets.
There are several docks in Skagway – the Broadway Dock located at the end of Broadway, the Railroad Dock at the southern end of town, the Ore Dock at the end of Main Street, and the Ferry Dock, which accommodates smaller ships. All docks are close to the town centre.
Skagway is one of Alaska’s most popular ports, with around 370 ships from 30 cruise lines docking here through the year. This round ice-free deep-water dock can accommodate thousands of visitors at once, and it’s not unusual to see 4 or 5 ships docked here at the same time.
- Shuttles and city buses for inexpensive direct access to the downtown area.
- The Skagway Visitors Centre, located at 245 Broadway, is about 8 minutes’ walk away.
- Easy access to shopping and attractions.
- Stroll to restaurants, bars and cafés.
- It is close to the historic centre.
How to Get Around
Skagway Port is close to the town centre and attractions. City buses ($2 into town and $5 for a day pass) are available, however the town centre is well within walking distance. The Skagway Museum is 10 minutes’ walk from the port and the main shopping precinct of Broadway is an easy stroll away. Restaurants, cafés and bars are all within walking distance.
Bike Rental is available at Sockeye Cycles located at 381 5th Avenue. Car rental is available through Avis, Alaska Green Jeeps and Sourdough Rentals for those wanting to explore further afield. Advance reservations are recommended.
Several ferry services and tour companies operate in Skagway, including a handful of independent operators who offer smaller group activities.
Skagway is located around 25 kilometres from the US-Canadian border, which is accessible by road or train. Self-driving to the boarder is straightforward – simply follow the Klondike Highway north.
- Currency - the currency in Alaska is the US dollar. Coins come in 1 cent (penny), 5 cent (nickel), 10 cent (dime), 25 cent (quarter), 50 cent (half-dollar) and $1 denominations. Notes come in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
- Time Zone - Skagway uses Alaska Standard Time (AKST). AKST is 9 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Alaska Daylight Time (AKDT), used in the summer, is 8 hours behind UTC.
- Weather - average temperatures in Skagway range from 1° Celsius in January and February to 17° Celsius in July and August. May, June and July are the driest months with an average rainfall of 25mm.
- White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad - built during the Klondike Gold Rush, this historic railroad is one of Alaska’s most popular attractions. Follow in the footsteps of pioneers and wind through granite mountains, travel across gorges and pass through tunnels as you journey towards the once-flourishing goldfields in neighbouring Canada.
- Tour Skagway - stop in at the visitor centre on Broadway – you can’t miss this building, which is covered in thousands of pieces of driftwood. Pick up a map and make your way through the historic centre. Or take a driving tour, where a guide in period costume will regale you with gold rush stories onboard a restored 1927 streetcar.
- Red Onion Saloon - this turn of the century bordello is an icon in Skagway. Located on Broadway, these days the Red Onion Saloon is an entertaining restaurant and bar where the waitresses dress in costume and offer tours around the historic bordello.
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