Spending a Day in a Gold Rush Town
Skagway is a very popular port of call for Alaska cruises. With a population that fluctuates between 700 and 2,000 from winter to summer it is easy to see what the economy is based on. While Skagway is small and isolated that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. Historically Skagway has its beginnings in the Yukon gold rush when it was established as the port of entry for the famous Chilkoot trail leading up to the Yukon gold fields. Today it is a tourist destination with a lot of interesting options for spending a day off a cruise ship from shopping, riding a train or helicopter to even wilderness adventures.
Where You Dock
There are several modern docks right near town with specific docks designated for different cruise lines. While there are no facilities right on the docks it is a short walk to public facilities going into town with more available near the foot of State Street that runs up thru town.
Taxis are available but the town itself can be walked in a short period. There are locations to visit on the outskirts of town like the gold mine where a taxi would be your best option. There are also Pedi cabs and a number of tour operators that offer short excursions around the area.
Alaska is a U.S. state and the U.S. Dollar is the preferred currency with most major credit cards accepted as well as ATM machines in town.
If you are looking for a scenic excursion The White Pass and Yukon Railroad provides train rides up thru the mountains to the White Pass and back. Their station is right in town and tickets are usually readily available. There is also a gold mining attraction near town where you can pan for gold along with a number of whale watching boat trips. A helicopter tour up to land on a glacier is another popular option.
State Street also has the usual lineup of tourist retail stores with an emphasis on jewelry. For some unique items look for local artists and crafters gift items.
If you are looking to book a tour our suggestion is to book on your own instead of thru the ship. You will have a whole day in Skagway with plenty of time to set something up. By calling the helicopter tour service in Skagway the day before arriving in Skagway you can save almost fifty percent on booking a helicopter trip up to a glacier.
The National Park Service also has a Skagway facility with good information and exhibits about the history of the Yukon gold rush.
Tip: Most U.S. and Canadian cell services do not have any surcharge for using you phones in Alaska. Just make sure you have a land based signal and are not on the ships cellular service.