SKAGWAY, ALASKA

Thursday, June 18, 2015

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When you arrive in Skagway at 7 am on the fourth day of the cruise, prepare to experience the truly raw, scenic beauty of this state.

Since the ship docks here until 7 pm, it would be my advice that you take any one of the umpteen shore excursion options.

I took the Skagway Bennet Train full day journey, where you actually explore the famous Yukon territory, Canada's westernmost territory, go dogsledding and stand in awe as you explore this truly awesome wilderness.

The half day tour takes you to the Yukon Territorys border, and cross over to Canada, driving along the Klondike Highway in British Columbia.

If you decide to hop the replica vintage, Gold Rush era train, you'll travel along the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, which is an international Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Here you'll enjoy stunning views of mountains, glaciers, rivers, waterfalls and plains, visit the famous Emerald Lake and experience Alaska the way it has been way back when, with unspoilt natural beauty, perfect for true outdoorsy people (but within the comforts of a guided tour, aboard a vehicle to take it all in while comfortably safe and protected from the elements).

Directly from the port you can take the tour to the majestic White Pass Summit and the Skagway Overlook (from where you can see the views as far as eye can see, panoramic views of the town  and waterway). Gold prospecting and Tingit history will make itself evident, by riding the route that many prospectors did on their way to the Yukon, in the roaring days of the 1800s.

Or just stroll around the century old buildings downtown, in this former frontier port town. The Old Historic section of down town can fill many hours with a variety of activities. Visiting the Mascot Museum saloon, which has a collection of artefacts from the heydays of the Gold Rush. There are glass blowing demonstrations and floral displays at the Jewell Garden or just simply visit Bald Eagle reserve on the on the river flats or go kayaking and spot bears beavers and moose.

You could go to the Skagway Museum to see artifacts and photos from the past, and see how harsh the conditions were for the prospectors. The Klondike gold rush historical park visitor centre will give you ample knowledge about the area, its rough history and more.

I was entranced by Skagway, imagining it during the height of winter, with meagre supplies of comfort or sustenance, and I kept seeing the Charlie Chaplin silent movie, in which the little tramp prospector is trapped in a snow bound cabin and is so starved he cooks a shoe and daintily eats the shoe laces as if they were spaghetti.

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