Instead of taking the White Pass & Scenic Rail, like many choose to do when visiting Skagway, we rented a car, took a similar route, and drove the Klondike Highway!
After a short stop at the border crossing (don’t forget your passport!), we continued on our journey.
The “town” of Fraser has no permanent residents or businesses. This is where passengers riding the White Pass and Yukon Route can transfer between the train and a bus to go farther down the highway.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather on our drive. There weren’t many clouds, the sun was shining, and it was a comfortable 72 degrees out! (Honestly, it wasn’t the weather we were expecting in early August, but a very pleasant surprise nonetheless!)
We drove along Tutshi (pronounced too-shy) Lake passing colorful landscapes and crossing into the Yukon.
We were hoping to see more wildlife along our route, but unfortunately because of the ‘hotter-than-normal’ temperatures, we’re guessing they all retreated to shady and hidden places.
Sam was really hoping to see some mountain goats or Dall sheep on Dail Peak, but we saw nothing but trees and rocks!
We did however see the remnants of the Venus silver mine off the side of the highway…
… and up on the hill.
We continued the drive along the turquoise lake and made our way to Carcross.
The town of Carcross was originally known as Caribou Crossing because of the migration of caribou between Lake Bennett and Nares Lake, before their decimation during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Carcross, which is now home to about 300 residents, began in 1896, during the Gold Rush.
When it first became established, what was known as Caribou Crossing was a popular stopping point for gold-seeking hopefuls going to and from the gold fields of Dawson City.
Now, this historic town primarily thrives on the tourism industry.
We were short on time and didn’t actually stop in Carcross, but we did drive through.
Following our short drive through Carcross, we turned back onto the Klondike Highway and stopped off to see “The World’s Smallest Desert”.
Who knew we’d find a desert in Alaska?! It’s only a square mile and although it’s commonly referred to as a desert, the area’s climate is too humid to be considered a true desert. It’s actually just a series of sand dunes, but still a fun stop along the journey!
One of our final stops of the day was the Spirit Lodge Wildness Resort. There aren’t too many restaurants along the journey from Skagway into the Yukon, so you’re not allowed to be too selective when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat. Our verdict: the food was decent and a little overpriced, but it’s exactly what we expected for a fairly remote location along a popular tourist route.
Our very last stop of the day, before turning around and heading back to Skagway, was Emerald Lake.
The vivid turquoise color of the water is caused by powdered limestone.
Although we would have loved to continue on farther down the Klondike Highway, we had a rental car to return and a cruise ship to board! If Skagway is a port of call on your next Alaskan cruise, we strongly encourage you to explore this incredible region on your own. Take your time, take lots of pictures, and take home wonderful memories from a beautiful and scenic drive!
Check out a quick video of our drive through the Yukon below!