After the prior day in Juneau, our boat pulled into Skagway sometime in the early morning. We were all asleep and didn't see us come in, but once awake we hustled down to the gangway for our bus & train tour...
Skagway, similar to the other towns we visited in Alaska has a small main street. It was only a few blocks of stores that looked like something out of the wild west. If you blinked, you'd miss it, and I did with my camera. Instead, we headed up the mountains on the bus and had some wonderful views of the valleys off in the distance.
Skagway is pretty close to the Canadian border, so in about 20 minutes, we found ourselves crossing into British Columbia. As we gained elevation, it was really interesting to watch the surroundings change. The trees got much shorter as we ventured from the foothills, all the way up to the sub-alpine and alpine zones.
The tour bus stopped at several places, allowed us to hop out, stretch our legs, and take photos. We even saw a bear on the side of the road. Not going to lie, Lilly sort of boycotted this part of the trip. I think she was still a little tired from the prior days' activities, so she didn't get out of the bus at each stop. She missed out...
Following several photo stops at many of the lakes, we actually ended up passing through this tiny sliver of British Columbia, and into the Yukon Territory. I expected to immediately see dogsleds and stuff, but that was not quite the case. Instead there was a lady sitting roadside selling snacks, candy, and souvenirs out of her truck. She clearly knows where the buses stop.
Our primary stop in the Yukon was this interesting suspension bridge & outdoor museum that was a good couple hundred feet above the rushing Tutshi river below. The geography was weird, as we passed back into British Columbia again to go there... so the Yukon suspension bridge is actually in B.C...
It was about lunchtime, and there was a gorgeous visitor's center & restaurant with three walls of glass windows. They served us a lunch of bison chili that was really good & filling. The ladies in my family don't really care for chili, but they were troopers. Why bison? Evidently, the family that owns this attraction also owns a buffalo ranch "over the hill."
After lunch, our group had about an hour to explore the bridge and the various outdoor exhibits. The views were absolutely stunning, no matter what direction you chose to look.
Most of the rivers and streams in the area were milky in color (this was actually the case going back to Mount Rainier). This is from "glacial flour" or fine silt particles of bedrock that was ground up as the glaciers moved over the land. As they recede and melt in the current day, they release this "flour" into the streams of the area. It's pretty wild when you think about it.
Once our time at the bridge concluded, our tour bus took us back down the road we originally came up. It didn't take us all the way back to Skagway though, we stopped in Fraser, BC, as we were going to take the rest of the tour by rail.
The White Pass & Yukon Route was a really wonderful way to experience the sights back to town. The narrow gauge railway actually was built on the original footpaths that early prospectors used during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s. Skagway was the primary port to reach the gold fields, and there were two trails to get there. This line traced the path through the White Pass, the less treacherous (although longer) of the two.
Note for those interested... should you ever take this train from Fraser down to Skagway... sit on the right side of the coach. Basically, everything is out the right side window, a lot of the journey is just the side of the mountain if you sit on the left. Unfortunately, we got in the car last and had to sit on the left. It didn't ruin the trip, but your views were partially obstructed by those sitting to the right of you, or those shuffling up and down the aisles also trying to grab a better look. As such, not great photos of this part of the tour.
Once back in town at the train depot, we had to hustle back to the boat to make sure we got there for its departure. No extra time in Skagway. I can't think we missed too much though, as other than the touristy "State Street" there really wasn't really anything to see.
Our bus driver told us that during the off-season for tourists, Skagway only has about 900 residents, and doesn't even have a full-time doctor or dentist. Another interesting tidbit, all three of our bus drivers on all of our tours in Alaska (Ketchikan, Juneau, & Skagway) were college students from different schools in Utah. Appears these Alaskan tour companies do some pretty heavy recruiting over there for seasonal employment. Seems like a pretty rad summer job, given you can handle the wheel of a tour bus and have the gift for gab.
And that was it for Skagway. Before you knew it, the boat was leaving. Not long after we left, we saw a small octagonal lighthouse (Eldred Rock Light) looking out our room's balcony, as we headed for another day at sea. Next destination: Victoria, British Columbia.
2018 Vacation Posts
Seattle | Ketchikan | Juneau | Skagway | Victoria | Seattle II