Yay Skagway!! An all time favorite little city in Southeast! So much character, so many stories! This little city has consistently busted ass and triumphantly overcome challenge for most of its existence. I love Skagway's history just as much as today's undeniable charm. The City was built on the fortunes of gold, and as the gold dwindled away, tourism became the new evergreen currency that pushes Skagway to be a highlight on anyone's trip through Southeast.
This summer my dad flew his Piper Aztec up to Juneau, we have been flying together since I can remember. When COVID restrictions lifted a bit, I got a craving for a little bit of Thai food and adventure. Sydney and I packed the kids and headed out for a day trip with high hopes to eat lunch outside in to-go containers. We flew on a perfect day, got ice cream and set out to explore. This town is incredibly walkable, there is so much to see and learn just by walking the city streets. By 1pm we were starving, only to find out my favorite Thai place was closed! I had even called the day before to insure they'd be open. I probably stood at the door for an embarrassingly long amount of time hoping someone would appear and let me order. My dreams died when we ended up flying away with empty stomachs. I promise to return when things open up even more!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy our photos and I hope you get a chance to sneak up to Skagway sometime this summer!
A Quick History
A well known trade route between Tlingit and Tagish Natives, the end of Lynn Canal was originally called Skaqua or Shgagwéi meaning a windy, or "white caps on water." In 1887 Captain Moore laid claim to 160 acres in hopes of striking it rich with gold. Ten years later Skookum Jim, George W. Carmack and Dawson Charlie discovered an unprecedented amount of gold at Bonanza Creek. The best way to reach Bonanza Creek? Follow the 600+ mile trip beginning right outside of Skagway. When two steamships arrived unannounced to Seattle and San Fransisco loaded with a "ton of gold," news spread like wildfire. Within days, steamships were at capacity as prospectors departed for the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897.
The journey to Bonanza Creek required multiple trips over the pass as the Canadian Mounties required that each person have at least 1 ton of provisions to ensure they would survive the winter. The City swelled to over 10,000 people in a matter of months. With no real law, the City quickly became known as a hell hole. Con artists like Soapy Smith walked the streets stealing gold from prospectors who had struck it rich. Could you imagine coming back after a year's worth of treachery only to be robbed?!
Over the next several decades Skagway becomes Alaska's first incorporated City, beating Juneau by 1 day. President Harding visits the city, and various women's clubs advocate and establish the library, school, and prohibition of alcohol. The White Pass & Yukon Route train provides transportation of gold, ore, and eventually tourists as Skagway becomes a destination highlight by the mid 20's and continually builds momentum to modern day. Skagway literally is invaded during WWII as US Troops takeover the railroad to transport materials in order to build the ALCAN highway through the Yukon territory. Things settle out and the road from Juneau to Skagway gets teased in and out of conversation with no real progress.
Check out even more details of Skagway's history here!
This trip we flew in my dad's Piper Aztec! It's a quick 35 minute flight from Juneau. Normally I'd take Alaska Seaplanes or ride the Alaska State Ferry! Unfortunately the Alaska Ferries are experiencing sever budget cuts so the schedule is pretty bare.
What to Wear
Always weather dependent! Summer in Alaska can be a hit or miss. It can be 53 degrees and raining, or 78 degrees and hot! So always pack and dress in layers. Since we were only going for the day, it was easy to dress on the day's forecast for sunny and 72 degrees!
- An easy day dress if you're going to kick around town.
- Jeans and tee if you're planning to wander trails or explore and play more.
- Light sweater
- Sneakers or good walking sandals
How to Play
Best time to visit: April - September. For cheaper ferry tickets and no cruise ship tourists, get there before May! Easter weekend is a great time to visit, Canadians drive down for the holiday (hotels book up fast), Starfire fires up their kitchen, and the driver goes free on the AMHS ferry!
COVID19 UPDATE - The season is cancelled! There are a few ships scheduled to come in August and September.
Hike the Chilkoot Trail - Follow the route of the Klondike Gold Rush for an unforgetable journey. The trail is 33 miles, one way ending at Lake Bennett in British Columbia. Permits are required and during COVID conditions the trail is closed.
Hike Lower Dewey - A moderate loop hike roughly three miles long. A great hike around the lake that takes 1-2 hours.
White Pass Train - Everyone should take this ride! A 40 mile round trip adventure takes you on an unforgettable ride on vintage cars.
Dance Night at the Red Onion Saloon!
Eat as much as possible at Starfire Thai Restaraunt - The food is authentically delicious and is so good that deliveries often include plane rides to Juneau!
Please make a point to visit Skagway, there is so much life and vibrance you're sure to have the sweetest escape!
Photos were taken in combination of my cell phone and by the famous and multitalented Sydney Akagi, my go-to adventure and fashion photographer!
“Best Trails near Skagway, Alaska.” AllTrails.com, 2020, www.alltrails.com/us/alaska/skagway.
Clifford, Howard. The Skagway Story: a History of Alaska's Most Famous Gold-Rush Town and Some of the People Who Made That History. Wolf Creek Books, 2003.
“Skagway History.” Skagway, Alaska, Skagway Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2020, skagway.com/history-complete/.
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