Wednesday, 5:30 am – 8:30 pm
September weather: Average temps of 56°/45°F. Average precip of 4.33″.
There are three cruise ships in port the day we’re there. We dock at the Railroad Dock Forward.
Getting downtown is about a 20 minutes walk or a $2 shuttle ride (cash). An all day pass is $5–and you need the all day pass to go to Gold Dredge and Jewell Gardens. Bus schedule and details
We met DD for breakfast at 7:30. We went up to Horizon Court and had breakfast from the buffet and DD wrapped up some french toast to bring down to Mike who hadn’t joined us for breakfast.
Getting our car
It wasn’t too hard to get to the Green Jeep location–there was a shuttle right outside of the ship. The driver was great and when we told him where we were going, he said he’d be able to tell us where to get off the bus. That was very useful because I had trouble getting to Dropbox–I’d turned off cellular data so I couldn’t get to the Internet–whodda thunk it?
When we got to the Popcorn Emporium and went to the desk to pick up the jeep, we were told that our four-door jeep was in the shop, but they had made a reservation for us at Avis for an SUV. They offered us an option for a 2 door jeep, but that didn’t sound very comfortable for four, so we too them up on the Avis option. Green Jeep Tours gave us directions to Avis and their binder and CD that detailed the drive.
The directions to Avis were somewhere between pretty bad and horrible, but we found it anyway. She directed us to turn left at the Windmark hotel (or some name like that). However, it turned out that the hotel was actually a block off from the block she sent us down!
There was no trouble picking up a car–we ended up with a Toyota Forerunner. The other option was a Rav4, but we thought the larger vehicle would be more comfortable for the four of us.
Through White Pass
When we left Skagway, it was incredibly foggy. The road was clear enough, but the cloud cover was very low and we had no visibility of the mountains. We didn’t stop for pictures early on–we couldn’t see anything at all.
We slowed down to leave the US and drove the 15 miles betwee the US and Canadian immigration/customs. There’s a no man’s land in the middle–but there’s really nowhere to go other than following the road!
The woman at the Canadian immigration stop was very nice. She asked where we were from and when we told her, she guessed we were there on a cruise ship. We admitted it :-), and she waved us on with wishes to have a good day.
Carcross, once known as Caribou Crossing, is a tiny little town it’d be easy to miss if it weren’t the only thing there. If the railway didn’t stop there, I don’t think there’d still be a town.
My primary need in Carcross was to find facilities. The binder we had said there were public facilities in the train depot, so we parked near there–but the train depot was closed up tight–and looked as if it had been for years. So, we headed towards the Visitor Center and there was a building with public restrooms.
It’s the end of the season, so almost all of the touristy shops were closed. Even the closed shops were pretty minimal–they’re little colored huts that don’t look much bigger than an outhouse. The Visitor Center was open; it had a lot of brochures and not much else. The guys spent a lot of time at the Tutshi steamship exhibit.
We did stop at the General Store where I bought a magnet with a picture of the Yukon. There were various fur items available for sale as well. Next to (and connected to) the General Store was a place one could buy popcorn–I’m not sure what about this part of the country makes popcorn so popular!
Caribou Crossing Trading Post
The Trading Post is just a few miles from Carcross–and we stopped there for lunch. We’d heard that there was all you could eat barbeque chicken, a wildlife museum, Alaskan huskies, and other animals.
When we got there and said we wanted lunch, the woman pulled out her walkie talkie to find out if there was enough chicken for four walk-ins. Fortunately there was, so we paid for our lunch and the attractions. She warned us that we should eat soon because the food line shut down at 2:30. My watch said it was only a quarter past one, but we were all starving, so we had no intention of delaying.
The barbecue chicken was fine. The potatoes were a bit hard, the coleslaw was fine, and the bread and butter was fine. The donuts were so dry that I didn’t want a second one, which is pretty surprising given my sweet tooth. During lunch, I realized it was 2:30–we weren’t on Alaska time anymore!
After lunch, we went through the wildlife museum. The museum included an exhibit on the Canadian Mounties, which was really interesting. We usually read every sign, but there was a lot of glare and the font was small and white on blue glass, which made it really hard to read, so we eventually gave up.
The wildlife museum was a taxidermy exhibit–there were a few mocked ones (such as the woolly mammoth), but I think most of them were real taxidermy.
When we left the museum, we ended up at the petting zoo, where I got a surprise. When I think of Alaskan sled dogs, I think of Siberian Huskies. Well, it turns out that Siberian Huskies are the movie stereotype, but not reality. The sled dogs are actually a cross between multiple types of dogs. The sled dogs aren’t a matched set, either–they’re a mishmash of breeds and appearance. The sled dogs were chained to their homes. DD told us a story about the world’s worst jobs–and one of them was to chip the dog pee off the side of the dog houses each day. Hobbs (who was right next to Calvin) used the side of his doghouse for a latrine, so we got an idea of what that kind of job must be like–especially with prolific dogs.
I had told DD I wanted to see puppies–and there were puppies! I turned a corner, and there DD was with a puppy in her arms. She passed the puppy on to me–yay for puppies! DD purchased some dog treats and broke them into pieces to feed to the dogs in the petting area (as opposed to the dogs in the working area). She commented that the dogs were much better behaved than goats would be.
As we were leaving, we saw the goats–and she was right. As soon as the goats saw us, they all clambered down from their high area (they had a ramp) and stormed the fence, wanting food. One little goat actually climbed over the fence and got out of the pen. Another opened a door from the pen to go into a pasture. After the little one wandered around a bit (and we kept it from going out the exit gate), it climbed back up over the fence and back into its pen.
We found out later that we arrived at Caribou Crossing just as some others in our group were leaving on their tour bus. They’d taken the White Pass and Yukon Railroad as far as Carcross. I took a bunch of pictures of the train and tracks since part of our route paralleled the train.
I’d never seen an emerald lake before, and had been told that it didn’t always appear green, depending on the weather. (Someone else told me that they always were green, so I don’t know which is true.)
Either way, as we approached and then parked, it was obvious that it was definitely green. It wasn’t a consistent green—the depth of the color varied in different areas of the lake.
We started out planning to go at least as far as Emerald Lake. Green Jeep Tours didn’t like people to go past there to Whitehorse, but the Avis guy said they didn’t care. So, we left that decision until we were at Emerald Lake, and at that point, we all agreed it was time to head back to Skagway.
On the way back, I started to not feel so good–tired and warm–as if I was getting a fever. (After discussion, I started my Z-pack in the evening–being sick on our Alaska cruise wasn’t part of my plan. That happened on our British Isles trip, and really affected our last couple of days in England.)
We’d stopped and taken lots of pictures on the way to Emerald Lake, but we still stopped half a dozen times (including for two waterfalls) on the way back. I got out of the car for the waterfalls–everyone loves waterfalls.
For some of the other stops, I stayed in the car while Mike and Stan took seven zillion pictures.
On our own–Jeep!
I’m made plans with Alaska Green Jeep Tours to rent a Jeep Wrangler and head into Canada. Both of us really want to see wildlife, and although there is a bus tour that takes that route, we want the freedom to stop and take pictures and be in awe of the scenery. That’s hard to do on a bus–by the time you know there’s something to look at, it’s gone! I also begrudge the 15-25 minutes it takes every time the bus loads and unloads. Two of our friends are going to go with us–off into the Yukon!
The people at Green Jeep Tours were really nice–and suggest that we drive without (many) stops to Emerald Lake and then make most of our stops on the way back, since that will help us avoid getting stuck behind one of the buses.
Location: Right side of Broadway between 4th and 5th inside the Yukon Heath’s Popcorn Emporium. It’s a 20 minute walk or a $2 city shuttle ride. Cost for 4 door Jeep (including taxes): $230. ($230/4 = 57.50/person)
The photo gallery on the Alaska Green Jeep Tours website is incredible–you should definitely check it out even if you plan something else for the day.
Avis and Sourdough also rent cars in Skagway, but when I gave Stan a choice of a Jeep Wrangler or a car, he said “probably the Wrangler”, followed by “What am I saying? Definitely the Wrangler!”.
Maps and Stops
I’m sure we’ll stop in Carcross (once Caribou Crossing). There are a couple of different things to do there: Caribou Crossing Wildlife Museum, Husky Village: Dog Cart Rides & Husky Puppies Admission $8.50 There are also dog cart rides (15 and 30 minutes) but I don’t think we’ll do that–even if we do stop to see the dogs!
I do want to stop at Emerald Lake. We won’t be able to go as far as Whitehorse–Green Jeep Tours requests that we don’t go any further than Emerald Lake–and we are definitely going that far!
Click the maps to enlarge.
Skagway has a brewing company. It’s a restaurant as well as a pub, although the website is out of date. If we end up having dinner in town, perhaps we’ll end up here–Stan is always willing to try a new beer (if it’s not too hoppy). Interesting tidbit of history from their website: With roots dating back to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the Skagway Brewing Company first opened its doors in 1897 to serve the thirsty prospectors who had abandoned everything to head North and strike it rich in the gold fields. It goes on to say the brewery was closed from 1906 to 1997 and then again from 2002 to 2007. It’s at 7th and Broadway.
White Pass and Yukon Railroad
Lots of people take the White Pass and Yukon Railroad trip. We considered it, but the things I read made me think that I’d probably enjoy driving more and we’d be more in control of our own time. I admit to also being a bit concerned by reviews of people who were on the train when it derailed–and the (lack of) response by the railroad.