Skagway is beautiful, the scenery exquisite. The town is quaint, but leans on the side of being a bit touristy. Lots of shops and jewelry shops. There are a few little treasures amidst the shops. Skagway is a normal port of call on most Alaska cruises and there is plenty to do.
On our first trip to Skagway, we took a jet boat along the coastline watching the wildlife and abundance of eagles in the area. It was a lot of fun. This trip we wanted to explore on our own and it is easy to do.
Before leaving, I started digging in to options. I stumbled across Murray Lindberg and his Murray guide. Murray was a tour bus driver in the area for 17 years. He has written a fabulous guide to drive the South Klondike Highway out of Skagway up into the Yukon. On Murray’s website there is a free version, but spend the $5.00 and download the full guide to take with you. Murray takes you mile by mile on what you see as you drive, the history of the area and good places to stop. With the guide, Murray is your own personal guide.
Here is a link to the guide. http://murraysguide.com/
I booked an SUV through Avis in Skagway; the small office is in town, an easy walk from the ship, or you can take the free shuttle from the port.
Before leaving town, the stores weren’t open but one, Yukon Heath’s Emporium. This is a little popcorn shop, so we grabbed a few bags of popcorn for the car along with a few bottles of water. The popcorn was scrumptious, and they offer a huge selection on flavors. Try the Cheesy Jalapeno, or the Salted Caramel, Mmmm great!!
With snacks our Murray guide and water, off we went and the drive was spectacular. The highway follows the White Pass railroad for a bit before the train snakes off into the hills. We stopped along the way, had plenty of opportunities to photograph and simply stop just to soak in the views.
We crossed the border into British Columbia and then on to the Yukon. Stopped to find a few geocaches along the way which were fun to hunt for, you will find several.
Once we reached the turn off for Carcross, we head into the tiny little town. Named for the Caribou that use to cross through the area, we find the Chilkoot Trail Sourdough Bakery.
This cute little eatery serves homemade soups and their specialty “Sled Dog”, a piece of cheesy sourdough bread wrapped around a hot dog and baked to perfection. The coffee at the bakery is free, yes you read that right “free coffee”. You can’t miss, the food was great and the staff friendly.
Once you are done I recommend walking to the little shop right next door. We met the artist who makes all the metal sculptures and they are beautiful. Kindly ask at the counter and they will stamp your passport with the Yukon stamp. It is no longer done at the border due to budget cuts.
Leaving Carcross, we drive out to the Carcross Desert, “the smallest desert in the world.” It isn’t really a desert, but there is plenty of sand to play in.
From the desert, drive just a few more miles to Emerald Lake for views of this little lake with big, vibrant shades of turquoise.
The drive time depends on your stops and amount of time you spend at each one. We left Skagway at 9:00 am and pulled back into town to return the car at 3 pm.
We still had time to go in to town to enjoy a cold local beer and crab artichoke dip at the Skagway Brewing Company before walking back to the ship.
Driving from Skagway to the Yukon was a fun way to explore the area, see more than just town and be on our own to experience Alaska, and the Yukon.
Just remember to take your passports with you, you will need them at the border.
Drive Safe and enjoy the ride.