If you are going to Skagway you are probably going on a cruise, unless you are going in your RV camping. Most people get to Skagway on a cruise and are there for one day, so how do you make the most of the day in Skagway, Alaska?
The best way is to go on a tour, so then you can pack in as much as you can. There are tours that you can book through the cruise ship or independently.
Whilst I have been in Skagway I have been on two all-day tours. The Kroschel Wildlife Refuge in Haines and the Best of Skagway.
Both were fantastic tours, at the Kroschel Wildlife Refuge, you will see lots of Alaskan wild animals. The Best of Skagway you learn about the Gold Rush History. So, it depends on what you prefer to see. There are so many tours in Skagway to do, but I do recommend both of these.
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How to Make the Most of Your Day in Skagway Alaska
Kroschel Wildlife Refuge in Haines
The Kroschel Wildlife Refuge is run by Steve Kroschel. He is the founder of the centre and has a lifetime experience of working with wild animals for movies and TV shows.
Haines is not in Skagway so we took a catamaran ferry to Haines which is 45 minutes away. It is a beautiful trip as you sail through the natural fjords and see waterfalls and if you are lucky some wildlife, such as eagles and seals.
When you arrive in Haines it is another bus ride over to the wildlife refuge and again beautiful natural scenery all the way there.
The refuge is in the middle of nowhere! But that is part of the charm. The owner of the refuge Steve Kroschel is a real character and really makes the tour fun. He reminded me of the crocodile man Steve Irwin.
He has taken in all the animals and rehabilitated them. It was amazing to see some of these wild animals get close to him, like a cat or dog it was incredible to see.
Whilst at the park we saw; a moose, reindeer, a brown bear, a wolf, an arctic fox, a lynx, a porcupine, a mink, a wolverine and pine marten.
Steve would get the animal’s attention so we could see the animal well and get a photo! I fed the reindeer and that was fun, but I ended up with mud all over me!
I loved this tour as it was nothing like a zoo. The animals were happy and had lots of space to run about and were treated very well. I enjoyed every minute.
Then it was back on the bus and back on the ferry. This tour takes 6 hours of your day.
Best of Skagway
The best of Skagway is a good tour as you see a little of everything. We went on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, drove up the Klondike Summit highway, learnt about the Gold Rush History, went to Liarsville Trail Camp and learnt to pan for gold and ended the tour having a drink in the Red Onion Saloon to see an 1898 brothel museum.
The first part of our tour was driving along the Klondike Summit highway that was built by the US Army in 1954.
The road is on the other side of the mountains and you can see the train on the edge of the mountain and the Tormented Valley and Pitchfork Falls. The view was beautiful driving up to Fraser in Canada to catch the train.
White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad
The second part of our tour was to board the train in Fraser, BC in Canada, which took us all the way back to Skagway which took about an hour and thirty minutes.
The White Pass Railroad was built between 1898 – 1900. It was built right on the edge of the mountain. We went 2885 Feet (879 Meters) above sea level at the White Pass Summit point!
The train was interesting as we saw the original Klondike trail of 1898 of men trying to find their fortune and the trail was narrated throughout the train and landmarks were pointed out. It is hard to believe men hiked this trail to try to find gold.
Liarsville Trail Camp
The Liarsville Trail Camp was a lot of fun, but it is all outside so wrap up warm if it is a cold day (the day we were there it was cold!).
The camp is a recreation of a tent city from 1898. We enjoyed a salmon bake buffet first, an entertaining show explaining the gold rush and how to pan for gold. Then we got to have a go at gold panning ourselves and I found quite a few flakes of gold!
The camp was called Liarsville because of the press. The journalists reported from the camp the tales from the Klondike Gold Rush. Which was mainly made up! For example, they reported it was very easy to find gold, not a long strenuous hike to the summit!
It was also the last stop to have a hot bath, have your laundry done, go to a bar and see a madam before the long trail to find gold.
Red Onion Saloon
The Red Onion Saloon is a bar restaurant with a brothel museum upstairs. The Red Onion Saloon was a real brothel upstairs in 1898 – 1900.
When we entered the museum, we were greeted with Alaskan Amber beer, wine or pink lemonade. We were then shown around the rooms by a madam in costume.
She explained how the brothel worked, how much they got paid and the amount of time each customer got with a girl!
There were some of the girl’s things on display like fans, perfume bottles, hair grips, brushes, dresses and fur coats.
It was interesting and ended the day’s tour on a good note. The Red Onion Saloon is on Broadway the main street in Skagway and a short walk away from the ship. The Best of Skagway is an all-day tour take takes 6.5 hours.
What Did I Wear?
The day I went to Kroschel Wildlife Refuge was cold and on and off raining and the day I went to the Best of Skagway it was cold and windy.
I wrapped up warm! I wore skinny jeans, a sweater, a thermal tee, two pairs of socks, snow boots, a jacket, gloves, a scarf and a hat and I brought my umbrella!
- Weather: May – September 7*C – 18*C
- Language: American English
- Currency: US Dollar
- Recommendations: Wrap up warm and bring your camera or smartphone to take lots of photos. Also, binoculars if you would like to spot some wildlife. Bring an umbrella and a waterproof jacket as when it rains in Skagway it pours!
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Have you been to Skagway? Do you have any recommendations?