Skagway is located in what is known as the Alaska Panhandle, the southeastern part of the state. The Panhandle seems almost separate from greater Alaska and it's here that you'll find the state capital, Juneau. Skagway itself lies to the northwest of Juneau and along a beautiful fjord. It's a small city with fewer than a thousand permanent residents but it's a popular destination for cruise ships.
Often called the Gateway to the Klondike, the town has a fascinating history. The Tlingit people had been living here for thousands of years when Captain William Moore decided to settle here in 1887. Moore's cabin still stands. Moore believed that there was gold in the area and only a few years later, the Klondike Gold Rush proved him right. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the Skagway Museum, the Mascot Saloon Museum and several historic buildings will tell you more about those heady days that turned the settlement into a boomtown.
There are several walking trails in the area as well if you're more interested in the outdoors. One of the most popular is the Chilkoot Trail to the ghost town of Dyea. Another is the White Pass Trail to lakes such as Lake Bennett. Both these trails were used by prospectors and it's a good idea to get a guide who can tell you about the interesting characters that once walked these routes.
The scenery in the area is spectacular and there are three great ways to enjoy it. One is to take the ferry to Haines, since it will take you along the fjord and you may see marine creatures such as seals and even whales. You can also splash out on a helicopter tour for a bird's eye view. Most popular, however, is the scenic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.
Alaska is often associated with snow and you'll indeed find snow in the area during the winter months. However, to fully appreciate the beauty of the area and to enjoy the outdoors, it's better to come in the warmer, drier summertime. Bear in mind though that this is high season and cruise ships bring thousands of day trippers.
To visit, you have the option of taking a cruise ship. However, if you want to spend more than a day in the area, it's better to come by ferry. The Alaska Marine Highway is a ferry service that plies the route from British Columbia and via Juneau. Another option is to catch an airplane from Juneau or to drive in, since Skagway has a connection to the Klondike Highway from Canada.
There are several tour operators that offer private tours in and around Skagway. Some will simply take you sightseeing while other will take you on unforgettable wildlife adventures such as dog sledding, fishing or gold panning. Find them online and book in advance to avoid disappointment.
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