Skagway Cruise Port Guide

Cruises to Skagway whisk you back to the heady days of the Klondike Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century, a very different picture from the sleepy coastal town you’ll see today on your Alaska cruise. Back then, the town was teeming with prospectors who would set off over the treacherous White Pass to the Klondike gold fields, a journey many visitors make today on the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. You can learn more about the Gold Rush in the excellent Visitor Center, which brings the whole story to life.

History aside, Skagway is surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty, like towering mountains, dense forest, and tumbling waterfalls. Outdoor activities abound, from ziplining to white water rafting, cycling, hiking the beginning of the famous Chilkoot Trail, and summer dog sledding. Back in town, you’ll find lively pubs and restaurants offering fresh Alaskan fare, as well as an eclectic collection of galleries, outdoors suppliers, and quirky craft boutiques.

Cruises to Skagway, Alaska

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Top Sights and Landmarks for Cruises to Skagway

White Pass & Yukon Route Railway

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was built in 1898 and follows the steep trail over which gold prospectors trekked, often in freezing temperatures. The journey today is much more comfortable—climate-controlled, old-fashioned rail cars clatter through tunnels and over sky-high trestles, all the way up to the 2,865-foot summit of the White Pass. Notable sights include Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch, named for the many miners who lost horses in this spot.

The Gold Rush Cemetery

The famous Gold Rush of 1898 put Skagway on the map, and many of the lives lost during this historically chaotic time are memorialized in the Gold Rush Cemetery. At the end of town, after crossing the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad tracks, you’ll find the cemetery down a short path. Look for the headstone of local con man Jefferson “Soapy” Smith, who died in a shootout, and Frank Reid, who shot him but later died from gunshot wounds himself. The scenic Lower Reid Falls are nearby.

The Red Onion Saloon

The building that houses the old Red Onion Brothel offers a tour of the house of ill-repute, led by one of the brothel’s costumed “madams” who will regale visitors with stories of olden times. A visit here is like stepping back to the heady days of the Gold Rush when the town’s population swelled to thousands, fortunes were made, and morals were loose. When the brothel was closed down, the building was used as the town dance hall. Now, it’s a popular bar and grill, synonymous with Skagway.

Learn More About Skagway Shore Excursions

Top Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska

Drive a Team of Sled Dogs

Head to the ghost town of Dyea, now the site of a dog musher’s camp. Meet the excited dogs, then drive your team as the dogs pull a wheeled summertime sled along a mile-long trail full of twists and turns. Ride through the crisp air against a backdrop of towering mountains and dense forest. You’ll learn about the history of the sport of mushing and sled-dog racing, and even have a chance to try your hand at gold panning after the ride.

Zipline Over the Forest

The Grizzly Falls Zipline offers a spectacular adrenaline rush. Get harnessed and fly over the tops of the spruce trees on 11 separate lines, with breathtaking views of the falls below. In between “zips”, you’ll land on wooden platforms in the trees, and make your way over four swaying suspension bridges. Thrills aside, this is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in nature, take in the mountain scenery, and look out for wildlife, from bears to bald eagles.

Hike the Chilkoot Trail

The famous Chilkoot Trail, once trodden by gold prospectors and today a spectacularly scenic hike, starts near the ghost town of Dyea. While the entire trail is a 33-mile trek, you can easily do the first couple of miles, strolling through lush rainforest and flower-filled meadows, stopping to take in the views and enjoy the pure mountain air. Once you reach the Taiya River, there’s a float back to the tidal estuary on an inflatable craft, which drifts gently through mesmerizing scenery.

Food and Drink Spots Near the Skagway Cruise Port

Red Onion Saloon, 201 Broadway

Probably Skagway’s most famous pub, the atmospheric Red Onion Saloon, a former bordello on Broadway and 2nd, is unmissable for a taste of life during the Gold Rush. You can even do a brothel tour with costumed good-time girls before sitting down to craft Alaskan beers, cocktails, pizza, nachos, and salads. Stop by the popular shop for Red Onion merchandise on your way out.

The Station Bar & Grill, 444 4th Avenue

Open all year and a favorite of locals, the Station Bar & Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with daily specials from an eclectic menu that will delight any palate. Offerings range from salads to assorted burgers, pizza, and the popular fish and chips featuring beer-battered Alaskan white cod. The restaurant is located in the center of town and is handy for a bite to eat after an excursion.

Skagway Brewing Company, 204 4th Avenue

Soak up a bit of history when you sip a craft beer at the Skagway Brewing Company. Founded in 1897 for Gold Rush prospectors who needed a place to stop and hydrate, this is still a favorite watering hole serving unfiltered ales and delicious pub dishes. All the fish is local and the greens are grown hydroponically on site. There are quite a few vegetarian and gluten-free options on the menu, which comprises burgers, salads, and mouth-watering seafood specials like “Crabby Mac ‘n’ Cheese”.

Culture & History of Skagway

Skagway, or Skaqua, was originally settled by Native American tribes including the Tlingit, Chilkoot, and Chilkat people, who hunted and fished around here. In 1887, Canadian Captain William Moore laid claim to 160 acres of the Skaqua River Valley, naming the route over the mountains of the White Pass. Gold was discovered in 1896 some 600 miles inland, and in 1897, hundreds of prospectors arrived by ship, making their way to the gold fields over the treacherous White Pass.

Construction on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad began in 1898, the railroad playing a vital role in the city’s fortunes long after the end of the Gold Rush as a cargo route to the Canadian city of Whitehorse. Today, Skagway is a sleepy place, depending mainly on tourism for income, specifically cruise visitors and hikers. The city retains its frontier feel, with much of the original architecture intact.

Skagway Cruise Port Facilities & Location

There are two port docks in the town of Skagway for cruise ships. The Railroad Dock is directly south of the town along the Lynn Canal, and the Broadway Dock is about a five-minute walk from town at the foot of Main Street. Typically, larger cruise ships dock in the canal, and smaller ships will dock in the port in town. There are no facilities at either dock, as such, but you will find a helpful visitor information center on Broadway and Second Avenue, close to the terminus of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway.

Transportation in Skagway

Local transportation can be found through the Skagway Municipal and Regional Transit (SMART Bus). This operates a regular shuttle from the pier when a ship is in town, as well as a service to the Gold Rush Cemetery and Dyea. Skagway is a very small, easy-to-navigate place if you prefer to explore on foot, laid out in a simple grid system with most points of interest either on or close to Broadway. There is no rideshare service here, and just a couple of private taxi operators.

Shopping Near the Skagway Cruise Port

You’ll find ample places to shop in the town of Skagway. Simply stroll down the main street in town and you’ll see locally-owned stores and small boutiques selling warm outerwear, unique Alaskan handcrafted treasures, jewelry, and more. A few favorites include the Aurora Yarns of Alaska, Klothes Rush, and Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters. Look out for the “Made in Alaska” mark, a guarantee of authenticity.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The currency in Skagway, and all of Alaska, is the U.S. dollar (USD). You’ll find an ATM at the Wells Fargo Bank at 6th and Broadway. Tipping for service at restaurants and bars as well as other service-oriented businesses is customary in Alaska. It’s also appropriate to tip tour guides for good service around 10% of the cost of the tour.


To explore further into Alaska, you can extend your cruise with a Cruisetour. This allows you to travel inland via motorcoach and railway exploring Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, Talkeetna, Girdwood (Alyeska) and Denali National Park, taking in the views of the highest mountain peak in North America. Cruisetours include the finest hotel accommodations, a local dedicated Alaskan Tour Director, luxury transportation, and some activities.

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