It was just a quick 102 miles to get to Skagway on Tuesday. This was our longest port day – 7 am to 9 pm. We had our first excursion of the trip booked for today – a bus tour of the White Pass and Yukon Route. Being the experts that they are, Tim and Ruth had previously done both the train and bus option and strongly encouraged us to do the bus option since you can actually stop along the way and take pictures. We followed their recommendation and were not disappointed. It was a beautiful day – the sun was shining, the sky was blue and we barely needed our jackets!
Our first stop was this stunning overlook with all these waterfalls running down the mountains. There’s actually a pipeline that collects all that water and creates energy from it, which powers most of Skagway and some of Haines.
The next stop was Bridal veil falls – the entire falls itself is actually about 600 feet, but you can only see about 45 feet from the road. The amazing part is that the water is so clean you can just fill up your water bottle and drink from the falls, no filtering required. You can see our guide filling his bottle in the first photo below so you can get a sense of scale.
Our tour continued on to the Canada/Alaska border. Fun fact: since the winters are so knarly up here, the border stations on both sides are 8 miles from the border itself so that the workers didn’t have quite such an arduous commute and so that they didn’t have to rebuild every few years after the buildings got destroyed by the snow.
While the whole tour was a beautiful exploration of Alaska and Canada, there were a couple stops along the way that were especially beautiful. This roadside lake was one of those spots. It was so awesome seeing freshly melted ice floating in the water, and seeing the reflections of the mountains in the water.
Our next break was at the Yukon suspension bridge, which I would definitely enjoy revisiting because they had some impressive displays that I was only able to scan.
We stopped at another lake which was apparently still frozen over just one week prior! But it was totally melted and smooth when we stopped. Our guide told us a story about a friend who was ice fishing on that lake and caught a 40-something lb trout that was so big he couldn’t get it out of the hole in the ice! Our guide thought this was quite the tall tale since large lake trout are usually about 20 lbs. But then, on a separate occasion, our guide was talking to a women who worked for the Department of Fish and Game, and told her to story and asked if his buddy was exaggerating. But she told him no – they’ve actually caught trout as big as 89 lbs up there!
Eventually, we make it to the northern terminus of our tour – the Yukon territory. The most exciting thing about this stop was that there were mountain goats really low on the hillside.
We didn’t make nearly as many stops on the way back but we did make a quick stop at our third lake. Then, a bit later in our drive we saw a porcupine and then a bear alongside the road!!
The tour was promoted as a 3 hour tour but ours easily lasted 4-4.5 hours. But we didn’t mind, it was fabulous and our guide was very good. Note to future travelers: definitely don’t book through the cruise lines. We booked the same tour directly and saved 40%.
Afterwards, we walked around town a bit checking out the shops and doing a little souvenir shopping. We had tickets for a National Park Service walking tour, but sadly our guide left a lot to be desired so we bailed and went to get a snack at Skagway Brewing Company and refresh ourselves with the local “spruce tip” beer – apparently it’s very high in vitamin C.
After our lunch break, the guys and I headed off to hike Lower Dewey Lake trail, depending on your data source the hike is between 3 and 4 miles. The first section was quite uphill and after a short easier section we reached the lake. We went around the lake clockwise, and the first 25% was really tough – a lot of rock scrambling! Although I suppose that’s better than having to cross that at the end…
It was an epic day exploring White Pass, the Yukon and a local hike but the day wasn’t over yet! We had to take our picture with the Welcome to Skagway sign! Then, despite the long day, we managed to capture the late light before bed – there was still so much light in the sky at 11 pm!!