Top 10 Things To Do In Skagway, Alaska

The small town of Skagway is a popular port on an Alaskan cruise. Despite the town’s small size and population of just 1,240, Skagway offers some of the most adventurous activities available on an Alaskan cruise.

Whether it’s a trip to Canada’s Yukon Territory, rafting the Taiya River, or exploring nearby destinations by scooter, cruise ship passengers are sure to find some great things to do in Skagway.

If you’ve booked an Alaskan cruise that visits Skagway, here are 10 ideas for things to do with your day there to get the most out of this quaint little town.

White Pass and Yukon Railway

Perhaps the most popular activity to do in Skagway is to book a ticket for the White Pass & Yukon Railroad. There are a few options for taking a train ride to Skagway, with round-trip train journeys between 2 and 8 hours.

The most common train ride to book is the journey on the White Pass Railroad, which takes passengers north of Skagway towards Canada’s Yukon Territory. It is recommended to book the train to White Pass Summit to make the most of the scenery viewing opportunities.

During the train ride, a local guide shares stories about the Alaska frontier, the history of the Skagway Gold Rush, and life in Skagway today. The cars are heated and offer large windows as well as outdoor viewing areas.

Don’t worry about choosing the best side of the train once on board. Once the train reaches the top and turns around, passengers will switch seats to ensure everyone can see the best views of the scenery from the window. That being said, if you want the most spectacular views on the way up, the left side of the train would be best.

Although it is possible to purchase a train ticket through the White Pass & Yukon Railroad website, it is recommended to book directly through Royal Caribbean as this allows you to board the train right next to the location where your cruise ship docks.

Learn more about the White Pass & Yukon Railroad here.

Visit the Yukon Territory

Skagway is the closest Alaskan cruise port to Canada, with the border between Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory just 14 miles away. Because the Yukon Territory is so remote, those looking to visit this part of Canada may want to take the opportunity to do so while in Skagway.

You can visit the Yukon Territory with a guided tour that takes you through beautiful wilderness, turquoise blue mountain lakes, and a visit to the small town of Carcross across the border. Alternatively, you can hire a car from Skagway and explore on your own.

Additionally, while touring the Yukon, guests will have the opportunity to take a photo with the iconic “Welcome to Alaska” sign found at the Canada-US border.

Learn more about touring the Yukon from Skagway here.

Rent a scooter or motorbike

Photo credit: Skagway Scooters

If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure, consider renting a scooter or motorbike from Skagway to explore as much as you can in a single day.

Skagway scooters offers hourly scooter and motorcycle rentals to cruise ship passengers. Renting a scooter, unlike a motorbike, is possible with an ordinary driver’s license.

The advantages of exploring Skagway by scooter are that you can explore the city and its surroundings at your own pace and have full control over where you go during the day.

A popular route to take by scooter is to leave Skagway town and continue along the Taiya waterfront entrance via Dyea Road. Another option is to follow the Klondike Highway north of the city and through the mountains. Whichever route you take, spectacular views are sure to be in abundance.

Skagway Scooters provides a map as well as a free lesson before your ride to ensure that all visitors feel comfortable on their scooter before setting off.

Zipline at Grizzly Falls

Passengers traveling with children or simply looking for something different may be interested in a zipline tour at Grizzly Falls.

Tours to Grizzly Falls meet at the cruise dock before a scenic drive to Dyea, Alaska. Upon arrival at Dyea, guests will be transferred to an all-wheel-drive vehicle, ascending a rugged mountain road with views of rainforest and waterfalls.

After a safety briefing at the top of the mountain, guests will be strapped into the zipline and soar over Alaskan scenery and waterfalls on 10 zipline courses. A series of suspension bridges are also available for guests to take photos and spend more time enjoying the view around them.

Float down the Taiya River

Photo credit: shore excursion group

Just west of Skagway is the Taiya River, where you can go rafting and float trips.

Most float tours are relaxed, with a guide paddling the river and passengers enjoying the scenic views around Skagway. The guide points out native wildlife and plants throughout the tour and tells stories about the history of the area.

Some rafting trips are paired with a short hike on the Chilkoot Trail, allowing for both an active and leisurely trip.

Skagway Walking Tour

While the mountains and landscapes around Skagway are immense, the town is quite small, making it easy to explore in a day. Those who have not planned an excursion or have free time after a visit can choose to stroll through the historic streets of Skagway.

Visitors to Skagway can explore the town without a map or use a self-guided walking tour.

Alaska.org offers a free and interactive site walking tour map available on their website, making it easy to explore Skagway. With 23 separate locations listed, the map provides details of each of the main sights to see in town.

Food and drink in Skagway

We recommend booking morning shore excursions on an Alaskan cruise to have free time to explore, eat and drink in Alaskan ports during the afternoon.

One of the best ways to unwind after a busy day in Skagway is to take advantage of the town’s restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Skagway Brewing Company, a three-story building with a 1,500 square foot beer garden, tasting room, gift shop and restaurant, is a great place to do it. The brewery’s signature beer is Spruce Tip Blonde Ale, made from young spruce tips hand-picked during Alaska’s spring season.

The on-site restaurant offers an extensive menu of fresh Alaskan seafood, classic American sandwiches, burgers, and pastas.

If you are looking for a restaurant specializing in seafood, be sure to visit the Skagway Fish Company. Their signature dish is the Jumbo Alaskan King Crab Leg. Halibut, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, salmon burgers, fried chicken and steak are also available.

Foodies are also in luck on a visit to Skagway. From homemade fudge at the Alaskan Fudge Company to Alaskan fry bread at the Klondike Doughboy, there’s sure to be a dessert to try as you stroll through town.

Go on a day hike

Skagway is surrounded by hiking trails, making the area around town a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Skagway’s best-known hiking trail is also its most historic, the Chilkoot Trail. This is a 33-mile path that was a shipping route during the Alaskan Gold Rush era, during which thousands of people crossed the Alaskan coast to the interior of Canada. The route was originally followed by the Tlinget natives of the area, who showed the route to gold diggers in the late 1800s.

Although cruise ship passengers may not have time to hike the entire trail in one day, of course, shorter day hikes on the Chilkoot Trail can be a fun and active adventure that also offers a historical perspective.

Beyond the Chilkoot Trail, several other day hikes are located near the center of Skagway.

The Lower Reid Falls and Gold Rush Cemetery Hike is a beginner-friendly trail that takes visitors to the Lower Reid Falls waterfall just outside of Skagway. The hike is approximately four miles round trip and departs from downtown Skagway, making this an easily accessible trail that should take about an hour each way.

If you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, try the trail to Lower Dewey Lake. The trailhead begins just east of downtown Skagway and begins with a steep 500 foot elevation gain ending at Lower Dewey Lake. Spectacular mountain and water views surround the trail as you loop the lake for the next 3.6 miles.

Helicopter and glacier tour

While helicopter tours to the Mendenhall Glacier are popular in Juneau, a cruise to Skagway also offers the opportunity to see Alaska’s scenery from above.

Helicopter tours from Skagway usually visit the Chilkat Glacier or the Denver Glacier. Before landing on the glacier, a scenic tour where visitors can take in Skagway’s spectacular scenery, from rainforests to waterfalls and snow-capped peaks. Upon landing on the glacier, most excursions will include either a guided glacier hike or a dog sledding expedition.

While helicopter tours aren’t the most economical shore excursions in Alaska, they offer a way to see the state’s landscape from a completely different perspective and are sure to make for a memorable experience in port.

Visit the Davidson Glacier via a wilderness safari

The ‘Glacier Point Wilderness Safari’ excursion takes guests on a journey to the Davidson Glacier, located southeast of Skagway. This tour can be a great tour option for those who would like to get up close to a glacier without getting into a helicopter.

To get to Davidson Glacier, guests take a catamaran through Lynn Channel. It is possible that whales will be sighted during the boat ride and a naturalist will be on board with the group to share information about the wildlife and nature of the area.

Once guests reach the glacier, they will board a 31-foot trip canoe to get closer to the glacier.

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