Skagway is one of the most fascinating towns in all of Alaska. Its rich history and ties to the gold rush make it a must-see for your travel bucket list.
One glimpse at its small-town charm and you’ll see why it’s one of the most popular cruise ship ports in Alaska.
Its breathtaking landscapes, infinite activity options, and old-timey atmosphere make it an unforgettable stop in your Alaska travels.
If you’re planning a holiday to the area or will be stopping there on your cruise, you should plan your visit beforehand. Keep reading to find our recommendation of things to do in Skagway, Alaska.
In This Article…
- 1. Take a Ride on the Railroad
- 2. Go Ziplining
- 3. Take a Dog Sled Ride
- 4. Walk Main Street
- 5. Visit Jewell Gardens
- 6. Junior Ranger Activity Center
- 7. See Pitchfork Falls
- 8. Take an Aerial Tour
- 9. Take a Day Hike
- 10. Cycle Through the Rainforest
- 11. Book a Private Tour
- 12. Take a Self-Guided Tour
- 13. Try to Beat an Escape Room
- 14. Float Down the River
- 15. Go Golfing
- FAQ About Skagway, Alaska
- Enjoy All the Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska
1. Take a Ride on the Railroad
The history of Skagway is full of colorful stories of the Klondike Gold Rush. What better way to immerse yourself in this rich history than an Alaska train tour?
The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad excursion is a unique tour option that all history buffs need to do. Take a train ride through the mountains to experience a taste of the lives of the prospectors of the 1800s.
Hop aboard a vintage railcar to take the route frequented by the prospectors. Take in breathtaking views of forests, glaciers, waterfalls, and gorges. Don’t miss the cascading waters of Bridal Veil Falls on your way by.
The railcar will climb up 3,290 feet to the summit of the White Pass. Take in more views of the mountains, lakes, wildlife, and suspension bridges in the distance.
The excursion lasts anywhere between one to three hours depending on the tour you choose. You might opt for the motorcoach return where you’ll see even more scenes from the gold panning era.
You can also choose an excursion that takes you to the Yukon Suspension Bridge or the Gold Rush Cemetary.
2. Go Ziplining
Do you prefer your vacations to be adrenaline-fueled? If so, the Grizzly Falls Zipline needs to be on your Skagway bucket list.
The zipline tour takes you into the heart of the Alaskan rainforest. Fly through the treetops at speeds up to 30 miles per hour passing by stunning waterfalls and rainforest creatures.
There are 11 different ziplines, the longest of which is a whopping 750 feet. You’ll also experience several suspension bridges which provide the perfect backdrop for photos.
3. Take a Dog Sled Ride
When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in Alaska, do as the Alaskans do. Your trip to the state wouldn’t be complete without a dog sledding ride.
Before beginning your ride, you’ll get a chance to be up close and personal with your huskies. The beautiful dogs will greet you excitedly awaiting your departure.
Once on your sled, you can choose to stand on it to mush or kick back and relax. Either way, be sure to bring your camera for all the photo opportunities that will present themselves during your tour.
Up the excitement ante of your sled ride by pairing it with a helicopter tour. The chance to soar over beautiful glaciers and snowfields is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.
Don’t worry if you’re visiting during the summer months. The dog sleds still run, admittedly not on snow. They see sleds with wheels to zip you around the area.
4. Walk Main Street
Broadway Street is the main thoroughfare of Skagway. If you prefer to not venture too far from the dock, you can’t go wrong with exploring the main drag.
There are many local shops and restaurants to choose from in the downtown core. If you fancy yourself a seafood lover, you’ll be in paradise in Skagway. Try local dishes like grilled salmon or king crab legs or visit the Skagway Brewing Co. to sample local beer.
A trip to Skagway wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Arctic Brotherhood Hall. The hall is one of the most recognizable and most photographed areas in the city. The front is decked out with over 8,800 pieces of driftwood so it’s hard to miss.
The Ghosts and Goodtime Girls Historical Walking Tour is a must-do, too. The tour is given by gals in Klondike-era clothing who stay in character the entire tour. You’ll walk the historic streets and back alleys of the city while learning more about its rich history.
If walking isn’t your thing, see the city via bicycle rental instead.
5. Visit Jewell Gardens
Don’t think that a visit to Alaska can’t consist of stunning show gardens. Jewell Gardens is an impressive tour for anyone who appreciates both flowers and glass art. Your guide will teach you everything you need to know about the site while you take in views of the mountains and glaciers nearby.
The garden features whimsical glass installations throughout, each handcrafted by the artisans of the Gardens. You’ll also get to tour the Glass Gallery to see more beautiful and handmade glass flowers.
You will even have a chance to create your own blown glass flower during your tour. Your creation will get shipped to your home as a keepsake you’ll never forget.
Do note that the Jewel Gardens tour operations are closed for 2021 but they have announced that they will reopen in 2022.
6. Junior Ranger Activity Center
Are you traveling with small children? If so, a stop at the Junior Ranger Activity Center is a must-do. The visitor center features interactive activities your little ones will love.
This isn’t your typical kid’s excursion as they’ll learn all about the rich history of Skagway in a fun environment. They can even earn a “Junior Ranger” badge by completing activities throughout the center.
Of course, the activity center isn’t just for children. Adults, especially those who are young-at-heart, will love this hands-on experience.
7. See Pitchfork Falls
Alaska is home to many waterfalls, 43 of which have official names. Pitchfork Falls is one of our favorite waterfalls in the Skagway area. It stretches to around 2,000 feet in height, making it a sight to behold.
The falls are nestled into stunning mountain terrain, giving you a beautiful backdrop for your next Instagram photo.
There are several ways you can see Pitchfork Falls. It is a common stop in many of the local tours. You might even see them from the Klondike highway or on your White Pass Summit and Yukon Railway tour.
8. Take an Aerial Tour
The Skagway area is breathtaking by boat, car, and rail. Imagine the sights you’ll see from the air. A helicopter tour should be on every visitor’s bucket list.
The tour will take you to the area’s most remote glaciers as you leave behind your fellow ground-bound cruise ship passengers. Take in views of mountains, valleys, and waterfalls.
You might even have a chance to walk on Meade Glacier. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as many of the world’s icefields are melting at astonishing rates. The glacier is around 200 meters thick with flows underneath feeding in from 20 glaciers.
Flight routes are weather-dependent but you’ll never leave your helicopter tour disappointed.
9. Take a Day Hike
There’s no better way to see the scenery in the Alaska Panhandle than through hiking. There is a handful of one to two-hour hikes that begin in Skagway.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail is just shy of a 5-kilometers roundtrip with a moderate rating. You can access it year-round which makes it perfect no matter what season you’re visiting.
The trail features switchbacks and rolling hills. Bring your birding binoculars to see if you can spot thrushes, tree swallows, and spruce grouse.
Pack a picnic and hike to Yakutania Point to enjoy lunch in the covered shelter. This trip should take you anywhere between one and two hours.
If you have a longer time to explore, we recommend seeing the Gold Rush Cemetary and Lower Reid Falls. This 4-mile round trip features just a 50-foot elevation gain so it’s great for beginners. The hike will take at least two hours, so plan accordingly.
10. Cycle Through the Rainforest
The area’s beautiful temperate rainforest is a great place to visit by bike. The Rainforest Bicycle Tour provides the perfect mix of history and breathtaking landscapes.
You’ll meet your guide in downtown Skagway and then hop aboard a van to the Valley of Dyea. Your bike tour takes you across the Taiya River and nearby historic sites in the rainforest.
Keep your eyes open for eagles, bears, and salmon.
11. Book a Private Tour
After spending days on a crowded cruise ship, the thought of more crowds in Skagway might not be appealing. A private tour is just what you need to escape the crowds and have a more immersive expedition.
The Yukon Bridge & Emerald Lake Private Tour is a seven-hour once-in-a-lifetime trip. You’ll be hitting all the popular tourist hot spots on this tour including White Pass.
Don’t forget your passport as you’ll cross the Canadian border during this adventure. Be on the lookout for bears, moose, lynx, and caribou in the Yukon.
12. Take a Self-Guided Tour
You already know that Skagway is rife with a colorful and very interesting history. If you prefer to learn about its past without the aid of a tour guide, an audio tour is up your alley.
Learn all about the Klondike Gold Rush boom as you explore the trails and sights around the city.
13. Try to Beat an Escape Room
There are over 2,250 escape rooms in the United States. Lucky for you, there’s one in Skagway for you to try.
Escape rooms are an immersive 60-minute puzzle game. You and your partners will get a short debriefing before being locked in a clue-filled room. You must explore the space to try to solve your mission of escaping.
The Historic Train Carriage Escape Room is Skagway’s way of dipping their toe in the escape room waters. What makes this game unique is that you’ll be learning all about the town’s rich history while solving the puzzles.
14. Float Down the River
The Taiya River and its gentle flow make it the perfect place for an enjoyable float trip. Your tour will take you from Skagway through a scenic coastal drive to Dyea. Here you’ll board your raft and enjoy a few hours of peace on the water.
There are several different tour options to choose from. You can float while learning about the history of the area from a tour guide. You can take a strenuous hike through the lush rainforest before boarding your raft.
If you want the best experience, pair the hike and float with a scenic drive at the end. This tour runs about six hours but gives you a taste of everything.
15. Go Golfing
The Valley of the Eagles Golf Links is one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. It’s a par-36 course nestled next to the stunning Chilkat River.
Your guide will pick you up in Skagway before whisking you away to the nearby city of Haines. All of the necessary equipment will be provided for you for your 2.5-hour golf tour.
This isn’t your average course, though. You’ll be breathing in the beautiful mountain air while glimpsing at the native vegetation. Keep a lookout for mink, moose, bald eagles, and wolves.
FAQ About Skagway, Alaska
Are you still eager to learn more about this beautiful city? We receive a lot of questions about Skagway, so here are our answers to the most frequently asked.
May through June tend to be the best times to visit Skagway. The weather lows tend to be around 34°F and the highs around 82°F. Anytime between April and October will be beautiful, however. Be sure you pack the right essentials for the season.
Since Skagway is so small, there is no taxi service in the area. Everything is within walking distance. A Street Car Tour departs from the pier several times a day and provides a historical background of the city.
If walking is too hard for you, you can also take a S.M.A.R.T. shuttle bus. They too leave from the pier and follow a set schedule every day. The buses stop at popular tourist spots in the town so you can hop on and off for just $5 a day.
There are three docks in Skagway — the Broadway Dock, the Railroad Dock, or the Ore Dock. Skagway is very small, however, so no matter where you’re docking, you’ll be close to all the action.
Enjoy All the Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska
There is no shortage of things to do in Skagway, Alaska despite the town’s small size. After a fun-filled day of exploring and history lessons, you’ll have so many stories to take home to your friends. If you’re looking to find more tips for your cruise, read our other guides and articles.