After booking our Disney Wonder cruise to Alaska, we immediately started looking into what we could do in each port. Skagway seemed to be the port with the most to see, however when looking up excursions I was horrified by the hideously expensive (and quite frankly rip-off) prices that were being charged. The fact that some excursions cost several hundred dollars a person was disgusting – there had to be a better way…and there was!
Upon reading the Alaska forums on Cruise Critic, I learned that there is an Avis car rental office in Skagway. It is only open during the cruise season (May to September) and that you need to book early as they only have a limited number of cars given their remote location. So a year in advance, we booked a car for our day in Skagway. The total price for the day was just over $100 – an absolute bargain. That plus the freedom to be able to sightsee on our schedule was amazing.
In preparation for driving the Klondike Highway into the Yukon, I downloaded Murray’s Guide from the internet. This 34 page PDF file written by Murray Lundberg who lives in the area cost $5 and was worth every penny and more. It gives a full mile by mile guide of the Klondike Highway from the docks in Skagway all the way to Whitehorse. Along the route we stopped at the William Moore Bridge, White Pass, the Welcome to Alaska sign, Summit Lake, Fraser, Tutshi Lake, Tagish Lake, the Welcome to Yukon sign, Bove Island, Carcross, Carcross Desert, Emerald Lake and many other places in-between before heading back to Skagway and still having plenty of time to look around Skagway itself. Who needs bad overpriced organised tours?
Avis in Skagway is located in a motel room on the corner of Spring Street and 3rd Avenue. It took us about 10 minutes to walk there from the Ore Dock where our ship was berthed that day. It was an easy walk and it would be very difficult to get lost as Skagway is so small.
We made sure we got to the office for when it opened at 8am and there was no one in front of us – I had read stories of there being long lines and even worse not having enough cars but that proved to be untrue.
When driving the Klondike Highway, you must remember to take your passport with you as you cross the border into Canada and then have to go through US immigration just outside of Skagway on your way back into town. The staff at Avis remind you that you need your passport before they give you your car keys for the day.
You will pick up your car across the road from the office and once you pull onto State Street (two blocks over), keep on that road which takes you straight out of town and which in turn becomes the Klondike Highway.
This is seriously the best way to explore Skagway and the Yukon. Even with many stops for photos and taking our time seeing everything, the round trip took us just under seven hours (you could do it quicker) and we were in port that day for twelve hours. We watched countless tour buses pull up to places we already were and give their guests no more than two minutes to take photos before herding everyone back onto the bus – that’s not fun and definitely not worth what they have the cheek to charge.
I cannot say enough how easy it is to drive the Klondike Highway. For anyone who is worried, it is one road so it is impossible to get lost. There was no worry that we were not going to make it back to the ship – we were back in Skagway just before 4pm and we didn’t have to be back onboard until 7.30pm.
I have written about our day in this blog post.
Oh and just some important information for when you drive the Klondike Highway, these are the only toilets along the route. They are near Summit Lake and in Carcross itself.