Skagway, Alaska, mountainside
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / ziss | Skagway
Skagway, Alaska, Downtown Skagway
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / bennymarty | Downtown Skagway
Skagway, Alaska, snow shoes
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / CARLOSVOSS | Snow shoes
Skagway, Alaska, White Pass, Yukon railway
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / tibu | Yukon Railway
Skagway, Alaska, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
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Photo Credit: iStock.com / bennymarty | Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, Alaska, totem pole Photo credit: iStock.com / centrill | Tlingit totem pole

Skagway still very much reflects its Klondike Gold Rush history. You may feel as if you've walked off your ship onto the set of a movie about prospectors. The town was the supply point for those making the arduous trek into Canada's Yukon Territory in search of gold — a trip that involved steep climbs and winter temperatures as low as -50 degrees F. Several historic buildings are today maintained by the National Park Service with info about gold seekers, saloon keepers, gamblers, hustlers, and even murderers — all part of the small town's fascinating history.

What We Love

Red Onion Saloon: You can get a brewed-in-Alaska beer at this historic drinking hole, which has been the town's honky-tonk since 1898.

Wilderness Surrounds: Grab a map at the National Park Service office and take a hike right from town, including one up to the turquoise waters of glacier-fed Lower Dewey Lake (3.6 miles round trip).

Best Known For

White Pass & Yukon Route Railway: Travel in the vintage parlor cars of this famous narrow-gage railway up the same steep route followed by the gold stampeders of 1898 — except they had to make the treacherous journey on foot. You can take the train round trip, though active types may prefer to ride up and bike down.

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Who It's Best For

Families: Kids will enjoy such excursions as gold panning with a chance to meet sled dogs, as well as attractions like the glassblowing experience.

History Buffs: The area's past includes a lot more than just prospectors (see the wooly mammoth tusk at the Skagway Museum for proof), though of course there are many opportunities to satisfy your gold rush curiosities as well.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

It Can Get Very Touristy: The town has fewer than 1,000 residents, but in summer that number swells when jewelry and souvenir vendors arrive to cater to the cruise ship passengers. It's a gold rush for the tourist buck.

Fran Golden

Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

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