The best Tourist Attractions in Skagway, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Skagway, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Skagway, Alaska

Most everyone who took the White Pass Trail in pursuit of Klondike gold stopped in Skagway on the way north. At its height in the late 1890s, the makeshift town of tents and shacks had a population of 20,000, mostly adventurers who had steamed up the Inside Passage. In Skagway, they bought supplies for the hellish trek overland to the Yukon gold fields. But the town provided more than provisions: There to tempt the miners were painted ladies, gambling houses, 80 saloons and Jefferson R.

Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Skagway, Alaska

Today, most everyone on a cruise that goes through the Inside Passage at least 500,000 people each year stops in Skagway (current pop. 806). The old boom town has become something of a gold-rush theme park. Locals dress in 1890s costumes and give tours in vintage autos.  Soapy Smith is immortalized in a play. Start your tour of town at the Klondike Gold Rush National Park Service Visitor Information Center, northwest of the dock in the restored White Pass & Yukon Route Depot.

the Trail of ’98 Museum in Skagway, Alaska

The descendants of Skagway’s first settlers have meticulously preserved artifacts, photos and records of the town’s history their collections form the nucleus of the Trail of ’98 Museum (affectionately known as the Town Attic). It’s in the Arctic Brotherhood Hall at Broadway Street and 2nd Avenue. (You can’t miss the building its facade is covered with 20,000 pieces of driftwood.) The museum also displays artifacts of the Native tribes of Southeast Alaska, as well as some Inupiat and Yup’ik Eskimo materials. 

cabin that Skagway’s in Skagway, Alaska

The cabin that Skagway’s founder, Capt. William Moore, built-in 1888 sits at the corner of 5th and Spring Streets. Restored to its 1904 appearance, the Moore Cabin documents pioneer family life many of the Moores’ original possessions are on display.  By the way, archaeologists recently discovered that the famous White Pass Trail to the Yukon began next to the cabin in what is now an expansive lawn. 

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska

From the harbor northeast along Broadway (the town’s main street) are seven blocks of restored saloons and storefronts that are part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, much of which is owned by the U.S. National Park Service. the Mascot Saloon (with exhibits on saloon life), the Golden North Hotel (full of gold-rush era furnishings and, reportedly, a friendly female ghost) and Eagles Hall (the state’s longest-running play, Days of ’98, is still performed there). Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History, at Broadway and 5th, is a combination gift shop museum that contains 35 scrimshaw walrus tusks. 

Gold Rush Cemetery in Skagway, Alaska

If you want to stretch your legs, walk 2 mi/3 km northeast of town to the Gold Rush Cemetery and visit the graves of notorious swindler Soapy Smith. After the gold rush, Skagway survived only because it was chosen as the southern point of the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad line. Another gold-rush boom town named Dyea, just northwest of Skagway, was abandoned when the railroad bypassed it and the gold miners went home. Today, Dyea is a ghost town: All that’s left are some crumbling buildings, the remains of a wharf, and Slide Cemetery, where victims of the 1898 Chilkoot Trail avalanche are buried.

Lower Dewey Lake Trail in Skagway, Alaska

If you had a few days, you could hike the trails the prospectors took into the gold county.  The Lower Dewey Lake Trail is an easy one-hour hike that leads, naturally, to Lower Dewey Lake, about a mile southeast of town. (The trailhead is at the edge of town take 3rd Avenue east and cross the railroad tracks.) There are campsites and picnic tables there, and you can hike on a path that circles the lake. If you want to go farther, continue on the trail at the north end of the lake it leads into a higher country.