In 1897, gold stampeders from all over the world arrived in Skagway by steamship, bound for the Dawson Gold Fields in Canada's Yukon Territory. It wasn't long before the rough-and-tumble tent town was festooned with boardwalks, dance halls, inns and saloons.
Port of Skagway
Find a Cruise to Alaska
More than 100 years later, Skagway still retains the feel of those Gold Rush days, though most travelers now arrive by cruise ship and follow part of the original Gold Rush route by tourist train. The immensely walkable and historic downtown has also largely been restored to its roots, complete with false-fronted buildings and wooden sidewalks. It's an utterly charming place -- if a tad precious.
Skagway ranks as one of Alaska's most popular ports. It's not unusual to find four ships docked there on the same day.
Top Skagway Itineraries
Carnival LegendGlacier Bay 7 Day Alaska CruisVancouver, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, SeattleNow
Island Princess7 Night Alaska CruiseVancouver, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, VancouverNow
Nieuw Amsterdam7-day Alaskan Inside PassageVancouver, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, VancouverNow
Norwegian Joy7 Night Alaska CruiseSeattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria, SeattleNow
Queen Elizabeth27 Night Transpacific CruiseKodiak, Anchorage, Juneau, Vancouver, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, VancouverNow
Where You're Docked
Ships line up at one of three deep-water docks, all an easy walk from the heart of town. Small ships may dock at a fourth location, the Ferry Dock, also a few minutes from town.
The port doesn't offer a cruise terminal or facilities. Cruise ships share the port with industrial traffic. Inexpensive municipal buses run from the dock to town. Skagway Visitors Center, 245 Broadway, is about an eight-minute walk.
Good to Know
Given that most goods and foodstuffs are flown or shipped into Alaska from the "outside," you might be a bit surprised by the higher-than-average costs of food and other essentials.
On Foot: Skagway is an easy walking town. Most shops are on one street -- Broadway.
On a Bike: You can rent a bike at Sockeye Cycles, 381 5th Avenue, 907-983-2851.
Renting a Car: To explore outer reaches of this region of southeast Alaska, you can certainly rent a car through Avis, located at the Westmark Hotel, Spring Street near 3rd, 800-331-1212, advance reservations highly recommended; Sourdough Rentals, 351 6th Avenue, 907-983-2523), but you're better off signing up for a tour of some sort -- whether through your ship or via the handful of independent trip companies. Tour companies that serve cruise ships' shore excursion departments typically will refer you back to the ship -- or charge the same fee as the cruise line. Smaller, independent operators, many of whom have storefronts in town, may net more personal tours with fewer people -- and the prices might actually be lower.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Currency is the U.S. dollar. There is an ATM at the Wells Fargo Bank at 6th and Broadway.
English is spoken there.
Food and Drink
Casual In-Town Joints: Stowaway Cafe (205 Congress Way, daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) has wraps, soups and fresh-baked breads. For a locals' haunt, check out Sweet Tooth Cafe (315 Broadway, daily, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) for "home cooking." Skagway Fish Co. (near the Railroad Dock, daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) has terrific seafood and a great marina view.
Gourmet Dining: Olivia's at the Skagway Inn (7th and Broadway, daily, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) offers local fare with a nouvelle twist. Trademark dishes include Alaskan king crab and strip loin of elk.
Hand-painted gold-mining pans are great souvenirs.