60 Second Geography – Skagway
Today Skagway is the second most popular port in Southeast Alaska. Skagway’s gold rush theme gives tourists a glimpse of the past. Nestled between the mountains and ocean, the town still feels like a pioneer town. Cruise ships dock practically downtown, so you won’t have to walk far to experience Skagway.
- Skagway, or Skagua, as it is known by the Tlingit, means “windy place”. During the Alaskan gold rush, the area became popular with early prospectors heading into the Yukon.
- In 1918, one of the earliest cruise ships in the area met its doom. On Oct. 23, the SS Princess Sophia left Skagway with 343 aboard. In a blinding snowstorm the ship hit a reef near Juneau. The ship languished for two days on the reef before being torn apart by a storm. All aboard perished.
- Skagway, with a current population of 862, is situated at the northernmost point on the Inside Passage and about 90 air miles north of Juneau and 110 road miles south of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.
- Skagway’s natural setting and the wild nature of its gold-rush era history make it a favorite port of call. Many of the tours fill early, so booking in advance makes good sense.
- When in Skagway, be sure to visit the Gold Rush Cemetery and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Those interested in a bit of the seemier side of history might want to take in Soapy Smith’s Parlor, the Brothel Tour and the Haunted Red Light Walking Tour.
- The 110 mile WP&YR Railroad now takes visitors on the first 67.5 miles of track from Skagway to Carcross and has become one of Alaska’s most popular shore excursions. During the prime tourism season the railway carries More than 450,000 passengers through the amazing mountain scenery. The train climbs 3000 feet in slightly more than 20 miles, featuring steep grades, cliff-hanging turns, two tunnels, bridges and trestles.
- The small community of Haines just south of Skagway hosts a coastal rainforest and a marine environment that supports a wide variety of animal life. Mountain goats, bar, eagles and sea lions are commonly sighted by visitors.
- It’s still possible to see the Yukon by dogsled! Shore excursions are available with husky dog owners who expose guests to the rugged life of the musher and his best friends pulling the sleds.
What are you waiting for? Contact Destinations Worldwide and explore Skagway yourself.