What is Skagway Alaska known for?
Skagway, Alaska, USA — Imagine for a moment; you live in a small town with only about 1,000 residents. The main drag is only a mile long, and everyone knows everyone else. Shops are almost all locally owned, and you do your shopping at the local market because the nearest town is only accessible by boat. Then, one day in the spring, just as things are starting to thaw out, 10,000 visitors show up wanting to eat, drink and buy things. Welcome to Skagway, Alaska, a frontier town from October through April, then major tourist attraction the other five months.
The name of the town comes from Skagua, the Tlingit word for “windy place,” and being on a branch of the Chilkoot Inlet in southeast Alaska, it certainly earns the name. In the late 1800s, the place boomed for a while as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush and the cities location giving access to the White Pass.
Few people know this, but a man named Nordstrom made a fortune of $13,000 in the gold rush and used the money to open a store in Seattle. During the boom, the population swelled to 10,000, but by the end of the gold rush, it dwindled to 3,000, and over the years, this number has slowly declined to its present state. In the late 1920s, local promoters convinced passenger ships to dock there to take train rides through White Pass into the Yukon, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Although there are a couple of small hotels and bed and breakfast inns, almost all of the tourists arrive by cruise ship from early May through the end of September. The port can accommodate up to five ships at one time, each with as many as 2,000 passengers or more. Locals need to make their entire year’s income in these five months, so the business is brisk.
Although there is a Diamonds International, almost all of the businesses are locally owned, and the shop owners and employees are friendly and helpful. Unlike a Caribbean port, you won’t feel rushed or hustled.
If shopping is not your thing, well, you are in the middle of the wilderness. There are plenty of nature-related activities to enjoy. The easiest and most accessible is the ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route Narrow Gauge Railway.
This 20-mile route climbs 3,000 feet through the White Pass with breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. If you like to do things on your own, you are just a few steps away from some of the most amazing hiking trails in the world.
Skagway, Alaska is one of the most unique places you will ever visit. From isolated frontier town to booming tourist attraction literally, overnight, you won’t find a better experience anywhere else in Alaska.