Skagway Alaska is a small city in southeast Alaska, located along the popular Alaskan cruise route the Inside Passage.
Skagway Alaska was the most adventurous stop on our cruise to Alaska! We visited Skagway Alaska as the third port of call on our Alaskan cruise.
In Skagway we hiked and canoed to a glacier, tried the local spruce beer, ate amazing fish and chips, and did some shopping in the quaint gold rush style downtown.
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Cruise to Skagway Alaska
Skagway Alaska is a popular cruise stop due to its proximity to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the White Pass and Yukon Route Narrow Gauge Railway, The Chilkoot Trail, Harding Glacier, and Davidson Glacier. Not to mention the hiking, whale watching, fun downtown, and shopping! We had an amazing visit to Skagway with Princess Cruises!
Unlike Hoonah Alaska and Juneau Alaska, you can actually drive into Skagway via the South Klondike Highway. We did it the right way though and cruised in on the Island Princess. First passing through the incredible College Fjord section of the Prince William Sound to get there, and then again on the way out.
What to do in Skagway Alaska
- White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad – The “Scenic Railway of the World” links Skagway with Yukon, Canada. A 41-mile roundtrip offers an unforgettable journey to the summit of the White Pass at nearly 3,000 feet in elevation.
- Outdoor Adventures – Enjoy what is truly an outdoorsman’s paradise, with activities you won’t find anywhere else. Go for a ride on a dog sled, horseback riding, hiking, river rafting, flightseeing, ziplining and more.
- Klondike Summit – The Klondike Summit, also called the White Pass Summit rises 3,292 feet above sea level along the Klondike Highway. The journey, running parallel to the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, offers breathtaking views of waterfalls, glaciers, scenic vistas and glimpses of the original Brackett Wagon Road and Tormented Valley.
- Gold Rush History – Relive the color and history of the Yukon Gold Rush. Tour the camps, pan for gold and meet a few costumed characters who’ll show you what life was like during the boom-town days in the 1800s.
- See excursions at these locations on the Princess Cruise site.
What to do in Skagway Alaska
- Yukon (Canada) – Yukon is a wilderness playground with an extensive network of waterways. On the scenic 65-mile drive from Skagway, the lush coastal landscape gives way to rugged wilderness. Its capital, Whitehorse, is the center for the Yukon’s mining and forestry industries, and a welcoming spot for visitors.
- Haines – Pristine beauty and an abundance of wildlife define Haines. Just 14 miles from Skagway by water, the town is renowned for huge convocations of bald eagles and one of the planet’s longest fjords.
- Red Onion Saloon – During the Klondike Gold Rush, the Red Onion Saloon was Skagway’s most exclusive bordello. Now this colorful establishment is a bar/restaurant and a National Historic Building.
- Dog Sledding – Meet professional mushers and their amazing canine companions in an introduction to Alaska’s state sport. Take a flight to a glacier to experience flying over the snow, or visit the summertime training grounds for a ride in a wheeled sled.
- See excursions at these locations on the Princess Cruise site.
What we did in Skagway Alaska
Our excursion in Skagway Alaska was a trip to the Davidson Glacier and it was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. We took an hour ride out through Prince William Sound in a small boat with about twenty other people. The ride itself would have been enough to blow me away, but it was just the beginning.
After arriving near Davidson Glacier, we ate a brown bag lunch and then geared up to go canoeing. The waterproof pants, jackets, and boots were all provided for us. They won’t make you wear them, but do. Please do. That water is so very very cold!
Glacier Point Wilderness Safari
We made a short hike through the woods to our canoes, where we hopped into ten person canoes and headed to the glacier! Rowing is tricky because the glacier run off causes the shallows to change every day. Thankfully when the canoe is deep enough the guide can turn on the motor. Don’t be surprised if you get stuck a few times though! It was part of the adventure!
Once arrived at the Davidson Glacier, we were able to walk almost all the way up to it. Distance is so hard to gauge when you’re near a glacier. It’s impossible to tell whether you’re a few hundred feet away or a few thousand feet away. Being close was awe inspiring.
The face of a melting glacier is dangerous so while we didn’t walk up and touch it, we were able to pick up the large chunks of ice that had broken off earlier that day and we could taste the glacier water pooled all around. It was so clean and cold!
The glacier rocks were also amazing. Colorful and so varied. I fell in love with one that looked like a smooth scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream!
After the trip to Davidson Glacier we headed into town for good food, good beer, and shopping.
Where to eat in Skagway Alaska
- Skagway Brewing Co. – This is where we ate and had what were arguably the best fish and chips we’d ever had in our lives. In the moment we decided to split it so as not to spoil our dinner. Next time I will gladly spoil my dinner. They were so, so, so very good. We also tried the local spruce tip beer which is only available in limited quantities and for a short period in Alaska!
- Skagway Fish Company – Fresh Alaskan Seafood, and they also have selections for the landlubber as well as beer and wine.
- Starfire – Thai food in Alaska. Recipes come from many sources including the Chang Mai Thailand Institute of Culinary Awesomeness (where our head chef Judd Davis spent 14 years), ancient Alaskan Salmon preparation techniques as well as big fat burritos from Jeffrey’s mother!
- Olivia’s At the Skagway Inn – Olivia’s restaurant at the Skagway Inn brings you dinner straight from the sea and the garden. With locally-sourced Alaskan crab, wild Alaskan game meats, vegetables and spices harvested from the garden and recipes famous across the state.
- Klondike Doughboy – Just as the name implies! Get a delicious fried bread at the Klondike Doughboy.
- Gold Digger Mine and Dine – Filipino food in Skagway! Try something new and delicious.
- Red Onion Saloon – Built in 1897, the Red Onion Saloon operated as one the finest bordellos in Skagway and though times have changed, the spirit has not.
What to pack for Skagway Alaska
Pack layers for Skagway Alaska! When we were there it was cold and rainy. Having a beanie and a rainproof windbreaker were key for staying comfortable and still enjoying the day.
The day before we visited it was sunny and warm, but like most coastal towns, you can’t rely on the weather to be consistent. Skagway Alaska is far north, so be prepared for chilly wet weather.
If you plan a glacier excursion where they aren’t providing cold weather gear, especially toward the beginning of the season or end of the season when it tends to be cooler, fleece leggings under your pants will also make you more comfortable, also wool socks are great for keeping your toes warm.
If you’re doing an outing that might get your feet wet in that freezing cold glacier water, our guide highly recommended bama socks. She went knee deep into the water getting our canoe unstuck and swore her feet were still warm and toasty!
Make sure to check out our comprehensive (and printable!) cruise packing list!
Best time to visit Skagway Alaska
The best time to visit Skagway Alaska is in the late spring through summer months. You can’t go wrong visiting Alaska anytime between May 10 and September 15. The days are long and the animals and nature are in peak form.
Another great thing about visiting Skagway in the summer months is that you have very long light days. June 21 is the longest day of the year, with 19 hours of daylight in Anchorage, 22 in Fairbanks, and 18 in Southeast. But from early May through September, days are considerably longer than at lower latitudes.
We loved being able to tour the area all day long and still get back on the cruise ship and have enough light to explore the outer decks and hang out with friends like it was daytime!
Fun Facts about Skagway Alaska
- Guinness record! Skagway holds the Guinness World Record for the most people in an egg toss. The record was set on July 4th, 2008 and stretched for several blocks on Broadway.
- Haunted hotel. The haunted Golden North Hotel is the oldest hotel in Alaska.
- Lots of visitors. Nearly 1 million people visit Skagway annually even though the full time population is only about 900 people.
- First! Skagway was the first incorporated city in Alaska, June 28,1900. They beat Juneau by ONE day!
- Accessible by road. Skagway is one of only three cities in Southeast Alaska accessible by road.
Things we loved about Skagway Alaska
- Downtown Skagway. It looked straight out of a movie set. I loved the feeling of downtown Skagway with its gold rush era buildings and incredible mountain and ocean backdrops. I took a whole lot of pictures!
- Glaciers near Skagway. What incredible things to see in person. I had no idea I could love ice so much. The glaciers in Alaska really are inredible.
- Eating in Skagway. I’m not kidding when I say we had the best fish and chips ever in downtown Skagway. We also had a really nice lunch just the two of us. Which sometimes you forget to do when vacationing with a crowd!
Weather in Skagway Alaska
Skagway is very far north, so even in the summer you can expect some cool days. It is also rainier than average in Skagway Alaska as compared to the rest of the country. The temperatures during the tourist season (May through September) range from mid 40’s Fahrenheit to mid 60’s Fahrenheit.
What months does it snow in Skagway Alaska
Skagway averages 153 inches of snow per year between the months of October through April. That said, the majority of snowfall in Skagway Alaska occurs from November through February. If you’re cruising to Skagway, it’s unlikely you’ll see snow in the city limits.
When can you see whales in Skagway Alaska
You can see whales in Skagway Alaska from about May through mid September. You can spot pods of humpback whales foraging for food in Taiya Inlet. Sometimes, the humpback whales stay in the area for weeks, feeding on krill.
An incredible thing to see is the whales bubble feeding — a process in which the entire group of whales submerges and then dives all at the same time.
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are also seen in the Skagwy area, although they’re more difficult to spot. The orcas visit the inlet in packs as they search for food like sea lions or seals.
Festivals and Events in Skagway Alaska
- Buckwheat Ski Classic – A cross country ski race held on the fourth Saturday in March on the Log Cabin Ski Trails. There are 50K, 25K and 10K adult races as well as a 5K for kids 12 and under
- Skagway Spring Festival – Spring is here and Skagway is ready to celebrate the change in season? Join us for a fun weekend of events in April.
- North Words Writers Symposium – The annual North Words Writers Symposium will feature four days of panels, workshops, readings, and fun activities in Skagway and Dyea – all centered around the writing craft in June.
- Ducky Derby – On July 4th, 1500 little plastic duckies race to a finish line over a route that includes passing through 2 culverts, under railroad tracks, always in danger of getting caught in the trees lining the bank and the water loving dog that likes to pursue them.
- Klondike Road Relay – In September, a 110 mile relay race that begins in Skagway, Alaska on Friday and ends in Whitehorse, Yukon the next afternoon. Teams of 10 members from all over the world compete in this event.
Where is Skagway Alaska
Skagway is located on the western coast of the United States, north of Canada. It is in a narrow glaciated valley at the head of the Taiya Inlet, the north end of the Lynn Canal, which is the most northern fjord on the Inside Passage on the south coast of Alaska.
Skagway is in the Alaska panhandle 90 miles northwest of Juneau, Alaska’s capital city.
What time is it in Skagway Alaska
Skagway Alaska operates on the AKST (Alaska time zone). AKST (Alaska time zone) is four hours behind EST (Eastern time zone), three hours behind CST (Central time zone), two hours behind MST (Mountain time zone), and one hour behind PTD time zone (Pacific time zone).
Where we cruised from Skagway Alaska
- Hoonah (Icy Strait Point Alaska) – Amazing salmon dip and a beautiful night time hike!
- Juneau (Alaska) – Kayaking near a glacier, a fun bar, good beer, and great ice cream.
- Skagway (Alaska) – Canoeing to a glacier, the best fish and chips, and fun shopping.
- Whittier (Alaska) – A scenic bus tour, a scenic glacier cruise, and sad goodbyes.
- Vancouver (British Columbia) – Where we started!
Where we’ve cruised
Caribbean, Central, and South America
Recipes inspired by our travels
- Nutella Cookies
- Mango Pineapple Salsa
- Pickled Green Tomatoes
- Whole Fruit Popsicles
- Chocolate Overload Cake
- Smoked Salmon Dip
- Cracker Recipe
- Chicken Zoodle Soup
Must-read cruising tips
Why you should cruise to Skagway Alaska
Cruising to Skagway with Princess Cruises was incredible. It allowed us to see so much without worrying at all how we’d get there, how we would book tours and excursions, and where we would sleep at night.
I especially loved cruising in Alaska because you have such late nights in port so there’s plenty of time to do a nature focused excursion, but still also see the town, eat locally, and shop.