The Best Way to Visit Skagway, Alaska (Without a Cruise)

Skagway Alaska is a truly beautiful paradise nestled along the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska. Many people discover this town on a cruise ship because of it’s small town charm and the fact that it’s a favorite port of cruisers. Cruising is like going to a tapas bar, although delicious it only offers you a taste of destinations. If you would like to experience southeast Alaska on your own however, Skagway is a wonderful hub to do just that.


Population:

Skagway is home to about 500 year round residents and about 2,500 seasonal workers, many of which come back every summer to work in various industries. Even with the influx of workers everyone knows everyone and there is a happy small town atmosphere that can be felt immediately.

Getting There:

Getting to Skagway is a little trickier however than it may appear to be by looking at a map. Although located just 90 miles from the capital there is no road so all direct flights must be taken to Juneau. You can then take a 45 minute flight which will cost you around $129, plus luggage fees or if you have time you can take a 6 hour ferry for only $50. If you have never been to Southeast Alaska I highly recommend the ferry. It’s a great way to slowly enjoy the beautiful mountains and you may have a chance to see a whale or eagle on your way.

Where to Stay:

Once you’re in Skagway places to stay are about as scarce as everything else in town. I recommend The White House. It’s a beautiful bed and breakfast and will cost you just as much, if not less than the other places in town but is beautiful and has a warm atmosphere. If you are RVing there are a couple of different RV Parks in town to accommodate you and if you haven’t planned at all then check out Sergeant Preston’s Lodge.

Where to Eat:

After you’re all settled you’ll probably be hungry. For breakfast I recommend one place hands down best breakfast in town is Bites on Broadway right across from the post office. This place has great food and also fantastic service! Skipper and Niles will make you feel right at home and you can see just how much the locals gather here every morning for some of their southern hospitality. My favorite menu item is their cheese biscuit with sweet potato butter. The food and friendly service is truly addictive!  If you are looking for lunch or dinner you have a few more options. Skagway Brewing Company is a great all American choice for burgers and fries and beer. They also have a patio out back where you can enjoy the nice Alaskan air. Patios always win points I think. If you would like something a bit more exotic try Indian food at Bombay Curry or Thai at Starfire. Both are great places and you won’t be sorry.

Where to Drink:

If you’re ready to do some Alaskan style drinking then there is one place you have to check out, the Bonanza Bar and Grill. The Bonanza has food too but this place is more of the hub for locals and seasonal workers. You will really be able to see the diversity of the town and all of the people that fall in love with Skagway year after year.

Things to Do:

After you’re fed and your thirst is quenched and you’ve come all of this way I’m sure you’re wondering “what now?” Well there is lots of shopping in Skagway and if you’re into that sort of thing then you’ll need no direction. This place however is too beautiful to leave totally unexplored.

There are a lot of tours you can do in town and I would recommend getting on at least one of them. Dyea, Alaska is the unofficial suburb right up the mountain and boasts one of the deepest and longest fjords in North America. There are many tours that take you out there and give you a chance to see whales, eagles, bears, mountain goats and do awesome excursions like zip lining, horseback riding or dog-mushing. These tours can be a bit pricey but often companies will give you a little extra discount if you tell them you are staying in town for awhile.

Where to Hike:

If you’re looking for something a bit more hands on and a lot less expensive stop by the visitor’s center and grab a map of the local trails. There is a myriad of hikes you can do from very easy to quite difficult. Hiking Lower Dewey Lake is a must for anyone visiting the area and if you are brave enough to continue to Upper Dewey you can have an amazing night of camping under the stars. There are also less challenging hikes like Lower Reid Falls and tougher ones like AB Mountain that you can also check out. Lastly, if you have your passport in hand I would also highly recommend checking out Canada. There are a couple of companies that do very nice tours or you can rent a car locally and just head north. Skagway is only 40 miles away from the Canadian border and the Yukon Territory is full of rich Gold Rush history, native culture and beautiful scenery as well.

Once you have gotten a good taste of Skagway you can always take a ferry over to Haines or up to Ketchikan. Those are also beautiful little towns in the Inside Passage. That’s one great thing about Alaska, you can never get bored because there is always more to see.

September 25, 2013