What’s not to love about Skagway? I can’t count how many times I have been there, yet, I learn something new each and every time and also try to discover a new place. Skagway felt much like a ghost town, due to the late-season arrival of Norwegian Jewel. Many of the shops had already been emptied and closed for the season. The few that were open had great sales. It gave a very different picture from my last visit when the streets were crowded and everything was open for business. I actually preferred this visit as I am not a shopper and I don’t enjoy crowds.
First thing on my mind was to get on the White Pass and Yukon Route train journey. Although I had done it a few times in the past, I find it a not-to-be missed attraction. The scenery always changes and the ride itself is thrilling as the train creeps to a higher elevation. The steep drop-offs along the way add some extra excitement. Fully narrated, each journey has a host with information about the railway, the landscape or the gold rush that I didn’t know before. The weather when we arrived in Skagway left much to be desired. Drizzling and cloudy, I worried about the views from the train. I wouldn’t let that stop me from going, but a sunny day would certainly make for better photos and higher visibility. In spite of all of the clouds and drizzle, the views were still great and the weather gave the landscape a different look. The White Pass and Yukon Route trip comes in a variety of lengths and has add-ons as well. Some get off and go hiking. On one trip, we got off and bicycled mostly downhill back to the town. That was quite the experience. The first time I did it, it was lots of fun. The second time, the bikes provided were not quite to my liking and I never got comfortable with the bike. My journey down to Skagway caused some trepidation. Being late in the season, the options were limited, so this time I chose the round trip option to the White Pass Summit. I highly recommend this trip on this historic narrow-gauge railway.
Check out this short clip of a section of the WPYR. Excuse my thumb; it was a bit scary filming.
After the train ride, I wandered around town. The lack of crowds made strolling quite easy. Because of my interest in the Gold Rush, I made a stop at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum. ( I started the trip by visiting the other unit of this museum in Seattle.) What a fascinating and sad story this is. Along the White Pass and Yukon rail trip, remnants of the trail remain. Both the museum here and in Seattle are well worth the effort and are free of charge. Understanding the trials and tribulations of those who flocked to Seattle and Alaska to seek their fortunes and then to actually see a small part of what they had to endure, brings new meaning to this historic event.
As the afternoon progressed, the weather really turned for the worse. Pouring rain and wind made me decide to retreat to the ship and warm up. I had hoped to take a short hike, but that was not meant to be. Instead, I made a quick stop to visit Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters to speak with somebody about the Skagway Marathon. If you are ever in port in early June, why not consider running in that event? It’s considered one of the most difficult marathons as it is on both pavement and gravel and presents other challenges like elevation gain and bears. Duff’s makes a good stop for finding the outdoor gear that you wished you had packed.
Don’t forget that Skagway has restaurants and a brewery in addition to the many shops that grace the main street through town.