On a whim, we decided to leave the Alaska Highway for a few days and drive the South Klondike Highway to Skagway, Alaska. So although we still had several hundred miles to go before we reached Alaska via our planned route, we snuck into the southeastern corner of the state to experience the White Pass Summit rail excursion that had been recommended by other travelers. On the way we stopped at Johnson's Crossing Lodge for the best cranberry-raspberry scone EVER.
Skagway served as one of the main starting points for those seeking their fortune in gold during the Yukon and Alaska gold rush days. The town went from a population of a few hundred to thousands during this time in history. The White Pass Yukon railroad follows the path taken by the gold prospectors through the mountains. From Skagway, the train climbs the mountain traveling across bridges, through tunnels and around cliffs to reach the summit. We saw several waterfalls, amazing views of the harbor and the McCraken glacier. It was a really nice break for Chris. Since he does all the driving he isn't always able to enjoy the scenery, so this time he could just sit back and relax.
Today Skagway is a major port for cruise ships. There were four in port while we were there. The downtown looks very western and there are a lot of fun pubs, local breweries, and of course shopping. We were able to walk to just about everything from the Garden City RV Park.
The detour was definitely worth it, although to get there we had to travel through some long construction zones that were either extremely dusty (as noted by the "Extreme Dust" signage on the road) or extremely muddy. Both the truck and trailer were a mess. It took us about two hours at the car wash to get them reasonably clean again.