It would be really hard to choose only one thing that I loved about our Alaskan cruise, but I would have to say that the quaint, historic town of Skagway is certainly a top contender!
Skagway, Alaska is a tiny little town with a population of less than one thousand. Surprisingly, it is also a very busy port during the cruising season and can host up to seven cruise ships in one day, surviving almost entirely on the tourism industry.
Skagway was our first stop and the first time my family has ever set foot on Alaskan soil, though I hope it is not the last. In fact, Skagway is one of the reasons that I’d LOVE to return to Alaska.
There were many excursions that we could have selected that would have allowed us to see more of the area, but we opted to explore the community on our own…and for FREE.
I did a bit of research prior to our trip so I had a couple ideas in mind of where we wanted to visit but there is one thing that I always try to keep in mind: Locals know best. So, our first stop, which is actually #1 on my list of places to visit in Skagway was the Visitors Center.
1. The Visitors Center a.k.a. Arctic Brotherhood Hall is a rather curious building that you simply can’t pass by without giving a second glance. Adorned with 8,833 pieces of driftwood, this building is said to be one of Alaska’s most photographed buildings. Clearly you can see why.
Not only were we able to get a really close look at the building, but the wonderful ladies in the Visitor’s Center gave us some great ideas to aid in our exploration of Skagway.
2. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.
I loved the turn of the century facades of the buildings downtown and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park is no exception. Housed in the historic Railroad Building, thousands of visitors stop at this National Park Site each year to learn about the Alaskan Gold Rush, and where better to learn than in Skagway, the gateway to the Klondike?
This exhibit shows the supplies that each prospector were required to pack for the journey into the Yukon- weighing nearly 1,000 pounds!
Inside, you may choose to view a short 30 minute movie that offers an overview of the area and gold rush, or view some of the exhibits. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park also encompasses an area of seven historic blocks in downtown Skagway. You can continue to learn about the gold rush days on one of several free, 50-minute walking tours that the National Park Service offers several times each day.
3. The Gold Camp Cemetery is in easy walking distance of downtown (4 mile round trip hike from town) and boasts the “Largest Nugget in the World”.
Not all prospectors were honest men and with the lure of money came the gamblers, thieves, cutthroats and murderers, some of which are buried in the Gold Camp Cemetery.
If you continue through the cemetery for 1/4 of a mile you can also see Reid Falls. Unfortunately, my family couldn’t be persuaded to walk any further.
4. Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove are both a short easy hike from downtown and offer views you won’t want to miss. I could have sat and enjoyed the amazing scenery for hours and we probably would have had it not begun to rain. We also wanted to make sure that we did not miss #5 on my list.
5. The Broadway Dock is the place to be during high tide during the salmon spawning season and probably my families FAVORITE memory from Skagway. As the tide comes in, so do the hungry harbor seals seeking a dinner of …you guessed it…. salmon. Of course, if you prefer not to watch the salmon being eaten, you may opt to visit Pullen Park where you can view the salmon swim upstream without fear of being eaten. By seals anyway…
Sometimes we go on vacation and look back and wish that we could change things and though I wish I could change plenty about our cruise and trip to Alaska, our day in Skagway was perfect.
Have you been to Skagway? What would you add to the list?