Hop aboard the vintage passenger coaches of the White Pass and Yukon Route train and enjoy one of the most spectacular trains rides you will ever take. From breathtaking panoramas of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, trestles, tunnels and so much more! This narrow gauge railway that runs from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon Territory is designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and it is easy to see why.
Here is our experience riding the White Pass and Yukon Route Train!
History of the White Pass and Yukon Route
The White Pass and Yukon Route was built in 1898-1900 during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush to open up a transportation network in the north. The railway was considered an impossible task but was successfully built in only 26 months and opened on July 29, 1900. The White Pass and Yukon Route became a fully integrated transportation company, provided essential infrastructure servicing the freight and passenger requirements of Alaska and the Yukon’s population and mining industry. The White Pass and Yukon Route suspended their operations in 1982 when the mining industry in the Yukon collapsed due to low mineral prices, but was reopened in 1988 as a seasonal tourism operation. It is easy to see why the White Pass and Yukon Route is Alaska’s most popular shore excursion that carries over 400,000 passengers each season (May-September). The White Pass and Yukon Route offers lots of combinations of tours from day trips, hiker services, one way train trips and train and motorcoach trips to see which one suites you the best you can visiting the White Pass and Yukon Route website.
White Pass Summit Excursion
The White Pass summit excursion takes you on this fourty mile round trip excursion that climbs from Skagway to the Summit of the White Pass Mountain at 2,865 feet. The tour is narrated by a guide that can be heard throughout the train and is very helpful pointing out when and where you should be taking photos! Passing by several waterfalls including Bridal Veil Falls and other areas of interest include Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch . This three hour train ride will keep you interested the entire way passing through glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites. You see throughout your journey the original Klondike Trail of ’98 that thousands of men attempted to climb to try and find gold in the Yukon.
What To Expect on the White Pass Summit Excursion
Choose either side of the train when you walk into the vintage car as both sides of the train offers breathtaking views. Some people declare that if they don’t sit on the left side of the train they will miss out on all the grand views but sitting on the right side offers views of the waterfalls, the upcoming bends and much more. Regardless of what side you choose to sit from you get to switch sides on the way back down so don’t miss watching the view from either side on this round trip!
Make sure to have your camera handy and don’t be afraid to go outside to the front or back of each of the cars to capture all the picturesque landscapes and historic landmarks on the journey to the summit and back.
Make sure to bring some food on the train as you will be on there for three to three and a half hours and they do not offer any food for sale. There is free bottled water on the train for everyone to drink!
Here are some photos from our White Pass and Yukon Route White Pass Summit Excursion!
Skagway, Alaska the Klondike Gold Rush’s boom town. Skagway was the boomtown gateway to the Trail of ’98 and the Klondike Gold Fields. Skagway is the northern-most point in Alaska’s Inside Passage. Home to the White Pass and Yukon Route one of Alaska’s most popular visitor attractions, as well as the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and many more historical landmarks that bring the Klondike Gold Rush back to life for each and every visitor. Take a step back in time and experience what it was like for each and everyone of the fortune-seekers that headed north in search of fortune and the new frontier.
Here are our top 5 things to do in Skagway, Alaska!
Ride the White Pass and Yukon Route
While in Skagway one of the top things you have to do is ride the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad which is Alaska’s most popular shore excursion that carries over 400,000 passengers each season (May-September). This narrow gauge railway that runs from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon Territory is designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and it is easy to see why. Whether you take the White Pass Summit excursion or opt to take the full route to Carcross, Yukon this is a train ride you will not soon forget. Make sure to read our experience riding the White Pass and Yukon Route here!
Explore the Historic Downtown
Stroll down the historic streets of this gold rush town. The main street has lots to offer including visitor information centre, gift shops and historic landmarks like the Red Onion Saloon. The city still bustling with frontier freedom that welcomes all guests to a step back in time to what it was like for the thousands of fourtune-seeking prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush. Take in the Days of 98 Show or take an interpretive tour to see all that the historic downtown has to offer.
Eat at the Red Onion Saloon
A trip to Skagway would not be complete without a trip to the Red Onion Saloon. Sitting on the corner of 2nd and broadway this original gold rush building once operated as one of the finest brothels in the area. Although the times has changed and the Red Onion Saloon is now a restaurant the spirit felt within the restaurant is still well and alive. Come in for a bite to eat and a drink or take a tour into the brothel museum either way this is a place you cannot miss as how many times can you say you’ve had a meal in a brothel?
Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park preserves and shares the history of the Klondike Gold Rush. The park consists of four different pieces including the six-block historic business district in Skagway, the Chilkoot Trail, a corridor comprising the White Pass Trail and the visitor centre in Pioneer Square in Seattle, Washington. Explore as much or as little of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park as you would like throughout your trip through Skagway.
Take a Short Trip to Dyea
A few miles away from Skagway is a place where local residents and visitors alike cherish for its local beauty. This quaint town is home to the trailhead to the famous Chilkoot Trail and was where thousands of gold seekers arrived to head north. Drive through the old town site and visit the Slide Cemetery where many of the 1898 avalance victims are buried. Make sure to head out to the Dyea Tide Flats and watch the tide come in and out, see the salmon swimming in the river and you may even catch site of a few bears looking for their next meal.
Visit Bridal Veil Falls
One of the portions of this beautiful, long, steep cascade of Bridal Veil Falls can be partially seen from the White Pass Highway just outside of Skagway on your way to the Canadian border. This portion of the waterfall is directly next to the White Pass Highway with a pull off just before the waterfall. The vast majority of the waterfall is out of sight from the roadside as it goes through a tunnel under the road to continue to cascade down the mountain. To be able to view the waterfall in the majority of its entirety you can either see it on the White Pass Summit excursion or on the Bridal Veil Falls and Valdez Goat Trail.
Haines, Alaska is a small town with big heart. So many things to do in this beautiful mountainous town it is a must stop on your journey to either British Columbia or Alaska. From spectacular hikes, wildlife viewing to relaxing in a quaint coffee shop and enjoy the scenery. This charming port town on the Chilkat Inlet is perfect for both land and sea based exploration. Haines is known as the ‘Adventure Capital of Alaska and it is easy to see why! Below are our top things to do while visiting this beautiful port town of Haines, Alaska.
Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site
Located only 8 miles south of Haines on Mud Bay Road this incredibly scene state park is a must see while visiting Haines. One of the best places to see grizzly bears eating salmon out of the river is right here in the park. Make sure to drive to the end of the road in the park that follows the river to the beautiful emerald green Chilkoot Lake where you can rent canoes, kayaks or even try your hand at fishing.
Nothing provides a thrill quite like seeing bears in their nature habitat. In Haines you can find black bears and grizzly bears. Bears can be found anywhere throughout the Chilkat Valley but there are specific areas that are better known for optimal bear viewing. The Chilkoot Lake and Chilkoot River offer some of the best bear viewing in Alaska. The bears can be found anywhere along the river but often are seen on the bridge pulling salmon right out of the river. To see all our photos from our bear viewing in Chilkoot Lake make sure to check them out here!
Take the Ferry to Skagway for a Day Trip
Take the fast ferry for pedestrian serve between Haines and Skagway during the summer season to visit the gold rush town of Skagway. There is plenty to do in Skagway including mining for gold, have a bite to eat or drink in an old brothel, exploring the historic buildings from the gold rush or taking the White Pass & Yukon Route up the mountain to name a few things.
Visit the Hammer Museum
Visit the first museum in the world that is entirely dedicated to hammers. The museum was opened in 2002 thaChilt features over 1,400 hammers and related tools that range from -re-historic hammers, to colonial days to current day. If you enjoy tools or just are interested to see what it is all about make sure to swing by the museum and try counting all of the hammers while you are in there!
Visit the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagle and their critical habitat. Additionally it protects the natural salmon runs and allows for traditional uses. Bald Eagles are attracted to the area by the wide available of the spawned-out salmon and open waters in late fall and winter. The eagles can be seen along the Haines Highway in several different pull offs where you can stop and view them on the flats in their natural habitat.
Join us as we explore Alaska by GoPro, DJI Osmo and DJI Inspire 1 Drone in our Last Frontier- Alaska Video! We drove from the Top of the World Highway and crossed from the Yukon to Alaska at Poker Creek Boarder Crossing the most northernly land border crossing in the USA where we headed south to Chicken and then Haines, took the ferry to Skagway and had a blast exploring this beautiful state! Capturing the sunrise each morning as we drove south in Alaska through the mountain ranges in our truck camper was some of our favourite memories. We had the opportunity to watch 2 young grizzlies catch salmon in Chilkat State Park just outside of Haines, Alaska then hopped on the ferry over to the gold rush town of Skagway. During our few days in Skagway we made sure to pan for gold, experience this real life gold rush town and take the White Pass & Yukon Route train! Before heading back into Canada we made sure to make a stop in Dyea and visiting the salt flats at sunrise!
Our time in Alaska may have been short but we experienced a lot along the eastern side of the state and cannot wait to go back and visit more!
Have you had a chance to explore Alaska? Let us know your experiences in this beautiful state!