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Five Free Things to do in Skagway Alaska

Five Free Things to do in Skagway Alaska

The Traveling Praters presents Travel Inspired Living.

It would be really hard to choose only one thing that I loved about our Alaskan cruise, but I would have to say that the quaint, historic town of Skagway is certainly a top contender!

Skagway, Alaska is a tiny little town with a population of less than one thousand. Surprisingly, it is also a very busy port during the cruising season and can host up to seven cruise ships in one day, surviving almost entirely on the tourism industry.

Skagway was our first stop and the first time my family has ever set foot on Alaskan soil, though I hope it is not the last. In fact, Skagway is one of the reasons that I’d LOVE to return to Alaska.

There were many excursions that we could have selected that would have allowed us to see more of the area, but we opted to explore the community on our own…and for FREE.

Five Free Things to do in Skagway Alaska

Arriving in Skagway Alaska

I did a bit of research prior to our trip so I had a couple ideas in mind of where we wanted to visit but there is one thing that I always try to keep in mind: Locals know best. So, our first stop, which is actually #1 on my list of places to visit in Skagway was  the Visitors Center.

The Visitors Center in Skagway Alaska

1. The Visitors Center a.k.a. Arctic Brotherhood Hall is a rather curious building that you simply can’t pass by without giving a second glance. Adorned with 8,833 pieces of driftwood, this building is said to be one of Alaska’s most photographed buildings. Clearly you can see why.

Not only were we able to get an up close look at the building, but the wonderful ladies in the Visitor’s Center gave us some great ideas to aid in our exploration of Skagway.

Outside the Klondike Goldrush Museum

2. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.

I loved the turn of the century facades of the buildings downtown and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park is no exception. Housed in the historic Railroad Building,  thousands of visitors stop at this National Park Site each year to learn about the Alaskan Gold Rush, and where better to learn than in Skagway, the gateway to the Klondike?

Inside the Klondike Goldrush Museum in Skagway Alaska

This exhibit shows the supplies that each prospector were required to pack for the journey into the Yukon- weighing nearly 1,000 pounds!

Inside, you may choose to view a short 30 minute movie that offers an overview of the area and gold rush,  or view some of the exhibits. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park also encompasses an area of seven historic blocks in downtown Skagway. You can continue to learn about the gold rush days on one of several free, 50-minute walking tours that the National Park Service offers several times each day.

Gold Rush Cemetery Skagway Alaska

3. The Gold Camp Cemetery is in easy walking distance of downtown (4 mile round trip hike from town) and boasts the “Largest Nugget in the World”.

Not all prospectors were honest men and with the lure of money came the gamblers, thieves, cutthroats and murderers, some of which are buried in the Gold Camp Cemetery.

If you continue through the cemetery for 1/4 of a mile you can also see Reid Falls. Unfortunately, my family couldn’t be persuaded to walk any further.

Yakutania Point in Skagway Alaska

4. Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove are both a short easy hikes from downtown and offer views you won’t want to miss. I could have sat and enjoyed the amazing scenery for hours and probably would have had it not begun to rain.  I also wanted to make sure that my family did not miss #5 on my list.

Seal in Skagway Alaska

5. The Broadway Dock is the place to be during high tide during salmon spawning season and probably my families FAVORITE memory from Skagway. As the tide comes in, so do the hungry harbor seals seeking a dinner of …you guessed it…. salmon. Of course, if you prefer not to watch the seal hunting and feeding on salmon, you may opt to visit Pullen Park where you can view the salmon swim upstream without fear of being eaten. By seals anyway…

Sometimes we go on vacation and look back and wish that we could change things and though I wish I could change plenty about our cruise and trip to Alaska, our day in Skagway was perfect.

Have you been to Skagway? What would you add to the list?

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Audrey

Saturday 20th of February 2016

Hi, we are five ladies over 65 and going on a cruise in Sept. One lady is handicap she can walk a little can we get wheelchair at any of the places you mentioned?

Tonya

Wednesday 24th of February 2016

Hi Audrey, I'm sorry, but I really don't know the answer to that question. The walk to town from the ports isn't too far, but if she has mobility challenges, I would suggest she take her wheelchair onto the ship so she has it when she gets off. She can call the cruise line that you're booked with and they could offer further assistance.

JOYCE

Sunday 14th of February 2016

LIST BY TOUR COMPANY INCLUDES::::: JUNEAU WHICH ONE OF THESE THREE WOULD YOU PICK. I CAN ONLY CHOSE ONE……. DOG SLED AND HELICOPTER FLIGHT HELICOPTER AND GLACIER WALK JET BOAT WHALE WATCHING

I AM THINKING OF DOING MISTY FJORDES IN KETCHIKAN AND SKAGWAY TOUR AND SUMMIT OVERLOOK.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MISTY FIORDS FLIGHTSEEING IN KETKICAN?

Tonya

Wednesday 17th of February 2016

My family didn't do any excursions when we were in Alaska (though I would have loved to) so I really can't answer your question. I would suggest that you visit www.cruisecritic.com. I found it extremely helpful when I was planning our trip.

Holly

Friday 15th of January 2016

Hi Tonya! So glad I found your Blog! We are not into cruise ships, ugh! We have traveled all over the world scuba diving and tend to stay in local B&B's or 8-10 room motels and venture out on our own. But we are being offered a "free" trip from a client through my husbands company as a gift. At first I told him no way, lol, we did a Carnival cruise for our honeymoon back in 2008 and I vowed never to go on another. But then he said "Alaska" and knew it was on my bucket list! Since it is a free trip, we are willing to spend $$ to do some excursions. If you had to pick one "thing" at each port that would be something you really wanted to do, but couldn't, what would they be?? If he is dragging me on a cruise boat, he will be paying for me "on land" LOL. I have written down your itinerary and we plan on following in your footsteps, but I want to do at least 1 big thing on the trip! Even if we only do 1 ;) Thanks again for your site!! Leaned so much!! Now i can't wait to go to Alaska!!

Tonya

Friday 15th of January 2016

Hi Holly, I'm glad you found this post helpful. If we had it to do over, we would have done the train ride in Skagway- http://wpyr.com/. The glacier field tour in Juneau and in Ketchikan. Hope this helps, and if you have any questions, please feel free to email (thetravelingpraters@gmail.com) or leave another comment. Have fun, and by all means, if someone wanted to give me a free cruise, I'd be willing to give it another try. :)

Cheri

Saturday 12th of December 2015

Thanks for making sense of this. Shore excursions are so confusing to sort out. I found you through Pinterest.

Tonya

Saturday 12th of December 2015

I'm glad you found this helpful, Cheri! Let me know if you have any questions.

Tonya Caldwell

Friday 23rd of January 2015

I am blessed to say that I live in Skagway year round. Growing up in the south, I always thought that Alaska was cold and had nothing but snow year round. My husband grew up all over AK , his dad was a bush pilot . When we had the chance to move up here, we jumped on it! After living here for almost 4 years, I can honestly say that I will never want to live anywhere else. This is a wonderful little town full of amazing people. During the summer, yes, it can get rather hectic, but, with the tourist season comes the warm weather and longer days! I must add to your list, The Day's of '98 show. The cast is amazing and the show is one that is not easily forgotten. It doesn't cost much and is a must see! A free be would be to just sit on the bench in front of the post office. I'm sure a local or 2 will be sitting there, enjoying the sun ( when it's out and not raining ) and ready to offer up any help or information you may need, not to mention , they probably have some great stories to offer up !

Phyllis Stewart

Wednesday 9th of March 2016

We are going to be in Skagway on May 30, 2016 as it will be day 4 of our cruise. What is the weather usually like for that time of year? There will be 10 of us ranging from 8 to 75! I think some of the hiking would be great for most of the group. What are the "must see" hikes? Thanks!

Tonya

Wednesday 4th of March 2015

Skagway was our first stop on our cruise and that may not have been a good thing. Skagway was so beautiful and enjoyable that it raised the bar of our expectations. I really hope that I'm able to visit again. And if I do, I won't miss The Day's of '98. And I'll be sure to swing by the post office to see if I can find a couple locals to chat with. Thanks for sharing!

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