Alaskan Cruise Next Stop Skagway

We sailed out of Juneau at 9PM that evening and headed off for Skagway which I was looking forward to seeing. That early bedtime the night before seemed to restore me. These super long days of daylight had worn me out and the longest days were yet to come.

Our dock arrival time was about 7 AM and we were ready to go shortly after that. Skagway also had a lot of potential attractions listed in the 2009 cruise guide. There were actually 37 of them. Unlike Juneau most of these were outdoor activities of a less commercial nature. This might be the stop for you if you like golf, hiking with or without snowshoes, trail riding on horseback, kayaking or rafting, rock climbing or rappelling and bunch more outdoor activities. Skagway is a place where one could spend an entire week and never do the same thing twice.

Modern Skagway is a small town of only about a 1000 residents but back in 1898 during the gold boom it was Alaska's largest town. It is the location, location situation; at that time Skagway boasted the shortest route to the potential gold fields. One could travel the White Pass route or the more dangerous Chilkoot Trail both paths started at Skagway.

That location would make Skagway bloom again during WW II and the construction of the Alaskan Highway. Men and materials were moved up to the pass using the narrow gauge rail bed that I intended to ride to summit and on to Bennet Lake. This image was actually taken on the way back to Skagway. Keep in mind this is the middle of June.

Picture of and from the white pass railroad.

Mother Nature threw us a curve ball in the form of a mountain slide that forced the closure of the rail line above the white pass summit so we only got to ride up to the summit and back. There is also a nice smaller lake there but it is not Bennett Lake. That was still a four hour round trip and we did get to see that famous trestle that is no longer used but is still standing. I think this is the lessor of the two trips they regularly offer. This image is of the old, no longer in use trestle which was considered an engineering marvel at the time of its construction.

image old white pass railroad trestle

While taking a break at the lake (shown below) and before reboarding we finally saw our first bear. It was just a brown momma and weanling cub.

I would definitely suggest the White Pass rail excursion as something worth your time to do. I do not know if the full trip stops at the lake or not; I suspect they might because it has dual tracks and switches. It would be a good bypass point for traffic going in opposite directions. Or it might be that you change trains here to continue on to Bennett Lake. For your sake I hope they do stop because the panoramic views are breath taking. This lake at the summit picture is a typical Alaskan picture but we were actually in Canada at the time.

Picture of and from the white pass railroad.

Returning to Skagway we spent a few hours walking around a seeing various sites in the downtown area. We did not partake of any of the other attractions but there seemed to be something for everyone's taste. I felt a little sorry for the driver and motor of the bicycle powered surrey that hauled us back to the dock. Those legs were really pumping.

For more reading about the White Pass and Yukon route, I suggest this wikipedia article.

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