A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 41°/53°/Partly sunny
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© Alaska Division of Tourism
The White Pass and Yukon Route tracks hug the mountainside between Skagway, Alaska, and Bennett Lake, British Columbia.
Gold rush town walks down a historic trail
More than a century ago, thousands of prospectors flooded through Skagway, Alaska, on their way to the Klondike gold fields of Canada.
They came, they spent money, they went up over the Chilkoot Trail in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
And today, this northern outpost of Alaska's Inside Passage remembers 1897 and 1898 with a passion. Skagway has been described as the country's best preserved gold rush town.
Skagway is far from being a ghost town. Alaska state ferries dock here, the town is linked to the Alaska road system (via Canada), air service is available from Juneau, and cruise ships make hundreds of port calls during the tourist season of May through September.
The National Park Service honors Skagway's history with Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. It's the country's only international historical park, having units in Skagway, Seattle, British Columbia and Yukon Territory. The Skagway portion includes a six-block area downtown and 17 miles of the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail.
Skagway's most famous building, perhaps, is the two-story Arctic Brotherhood Hall. This driftwood-decorated frame building was the home of a fraternal group founded by gold seekers on their way to the Klondike. The building of "Camp Skagway No. 1" was erected in 1899, and the facade was put up the next year.
Some organized tours of the 862-resident town include visits to Gold Rush Cemetery and museums.
The Chilkoot Trail -- a hike of three or four days over the maintains to Lake Bennett, British Columbia -- is a popular and demanding adventure. Visitors who want to see the country can also take an excursion on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, which chugs over the route daily during the summer. Bus tours take passengers to Carcross over roughly the same route. Flightseeing tours are also available.
From downtown Skagway, the curious can cross the Skagway River and stroll to the ghost town of Dyea, which is where the Chilkoot Trail starts, and Slide Cemetery. A side trail heads up 5,000-foot AB Mountain. One and a half miles north of town lie Gold Rush Cemetery (home of scoundrel Soapy Smith and Frank Reid, who each died after a shootout between them) and Reid Falls.
(Readers of Jack London's "The Call of the Wild" may remember Dyea as the spot at which the heroic dog Buck entered Alaska and was forced north to the Klondike.)
In addition to savoring the "living museum" atmosphere of Skagway, visitors can visit a couple of museums: the Corrington Museum at Fifth Avenue and Broadway or the Skagway Museum in the City Hall building on East Seventh.
Skagway has fishing for salmon and Dolly Varden in the harbor, in Long Bay and in Taiya Inlet. Anglers can also pursue rainbow and brook trout inland. Fishing charters can be arranged.
In addition to hiking the Chilkoot Trail, there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs in town by sightseeing or walking to Dyea or Gold Rush Cemetery.
Skagway has private campgrounds and RV parks. There's a campground near Dyea, and the National Forest Service maintains a couple of public-use cabins nearby.
Internet access to check e-mail or travel plans is available at the city library, Eighth Avenue and State Street, at several cafes and near the cruise ship docks.
Skagway has a number of motels, lodges and restaurants.
Skagway is about 100 air miles north of Juneau, the state capital.
Skagway is reached by state ferry, cruise line, airplane or highway link from the Alaska Highway. Water taxis are available to Haines, which is an hour's voyage southwest or a full day's drive.