One of the most popular options for cruise ship passengers in Skagway is to rent a car and drive on into the Yukon, most often as far as Emerald Lake. We have done this twice, so I thought it would be fun to put together this guide, answering as many of the Frequently Asked Questions as I can.

Absolutely the first thing to do is to get Murray's Guide to the Klondike Highway. This document written by a frequent driver of the highway will give you mile by mile information all along the way.

Both times we have prereserved vehicles from Avis. Their webside did not show any vans, so for a group of eight we reserved two cars. But when we arrived, we were offered a van instead, which worked out very well. The other option is Sourdough Rentals, a local company. We have not used them.

You can get a map from the rental office, but it is really very simple. Skagway itself is only about four blocks square. As you drive out of town, you can stop at the old Gold Rush cemetery and see the grave of Soapy Smith, Skagway's consummate villain. Then you pass over the tracks of the railway and past the shops. Soon there is a turnoff to the spur road to Dyea. A short drive brings you to a beautiful overlook where you can see you ship at anchor, and beyond that the Linn Canal which is the sea route into Skagway. Driving on into the ghost town of Dyea is not recommended because of the rough dirt road.

Returning to the main road, there is only one route to follow. You will drive up over the pass through magnificent scenery all the way, and have the opportunity for frequent photo stops at almost every turn. There is a large suspension bridge to cross and lots of beautiful sights.

The border crossing is very easy. Of course you need to have your passport with you, but there is almost never any sort of line. Then you continue the beautiful ride, descending down the pass into the valley.

Entering the Yukon is somehow exciting! We have heard so many stories about it, and it is a real thrill to actually be there. The country through the valley is perfect, with lakes lining the road for miles and miles,and those huge mountains on all sides. It is easy driving, and no problem to stop often.

We have been fortunate to have good weather both of our trips. We did run into considerable fog over the pass, but it cleared up as we came down into the valley. The scenery continues to be stunning on all sides. Murray's guide will answer one of the most important questions, as there is only one restroom stop on the whole drive! It will take from two to four hours to make the drive to Carcross, depending on how often you stop.

The most common plan is to drive past the small city of Carcross as far as The World's Smallest Desert and Emerald Lake. This is a truly awesome view. From here it is possible to drive on to Whitehorse in the Klondike, but few people do. It is a long drive and reportedly not as scenic.

Turning around at Emerald Lake, you will pass by Spirit Lake Inn which is a nice spot to stop for lunch. They also offer canoe and horseback riding trips, but we did not do them.

Our favorite stop just past Carcross is Caribou Crossing. This sort of rustic spot offers multiple tourist attractions. There is a nice little restaurant, lots of scenic views,and of course – restrooms! The greeter said she was a real "Indian Princess" as her father is an elected tribal leader.

The museum here is well worth visiting as it has hundreds of mounted Arctic animals, up too and including a wooly mammoth! There is also a very nice gift shop, with an especially good selection of fur hats.

One of the most popular attractions of Caribou Crossing is the dog sled camp! A visit to the camp is included in the museum ticket and it is very interesting to see the dogs and hear about the Yukon Quest sled race.

Of course, everybody from 2 to 92 will enjoy meeting the delightful Husky puppies. These dogs are not purebred, but rather are bred from a select gene pool solely for the attribute of power and speed.

For an additional charge you can ride in the summer training cart. It is well to make reservations in advance at the Caribou Crossing website. It is quite a thrill to see how anxious the dogs are to get into harness and get going! The ride itself is about 15 minutes on dirt trails through the woods.

Another opportunity we had at Caribou Crossing is an ATV ride over spectacular terrain,including The World's Smallest Desert. (Reports indicate that this is no longer available. Check in advance.)

At the conclusion of your experiences, it is an easy drive back to Skagway. Driving straight through this time without lots of photo stops should only take about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half. The US border crossing is no more onerous than the Canadian one.

There is only one gas station in Skagway so allow time to fill up your rental car, and most likely you will have a little time left over to shop the main street of Skagway.

This is really an excellent way to see the Yukon and I thoroughly recommend it as a shore trip from your cruise.

We like to discuss our travels. Email us at thehalls@bully4.us

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