Small mechanical problem with electric steps keeping me in Haines until? I know this is Labor Day weekend but I don't know when I will be able to get to Skagway. Any ideas on boondocking in the area or a campground that might have space? Thanks for your help! Sally
Make camp early, break camp late, relax in between!
If Skagway is anything like all places north of Whitehorse, you will be lucky to find many other motorhomes there. Pretty much every MH we have seen over the last couple of weeks has been smaller rental units doing a quick end-of-season circuit.
We rarely use commercial campgrounds but if their occupancy rate is anything like the provincial and forest service sites, they will be very happy to see you.
We stayed at Pullen Creek also in the paved lot facing the cruise ship docks. Never had any diesel smoke or smell. Didn't see any place near town to boondock. Sad to say that Scagway itself was a huge disappointment. Train ride was OK, but the poor people on the cruise ships had to suffer through all of the cruise ships jewelry and gift shops in town. Totally a cruise ship tourist trap!
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There are lots of cruise ships still coming, but very, very few RVs were there when I was down 3 days ago. In hundreds of trips to Skagway, I've never seen "diesel smoke from the cruise ships real heavy" at ground level, though you can sometimes smell it on the hiking trail that climbs above the Railroad Dock where many of them park. If you want to walk around town, Pullen Creek on the waterfront is the closest to everything. The closest boondocking is at Dyea, several miles away.
Train ride was OK, but the poor people on the cruise ships had to suffer through all of the cruise ships jewelry and gift shops in town. Totally a cruise ship tourist trap!
Most of the cruise ship people don't suffer through it, they embrace it. The shopping presentations on board are standing room only (over 1,000 people on most ships), while presentations about grizzlies, glaciers or Native cultures bring 2-400. I work as a speaker on the ships occasionally (9 weeks last year) - it's a different mentality.
Yup - Skagway does have a whack of jewelry shops - overdone to be sure.
But that is not all Skagway has got.
It also has a heck of a history - the Soapy Smith show is terrific - graveyard a hoot - you can spend hours in the museum - trip to Dyea is a must - National Park features are well done - scenery around Skagway and up through the White Pass is stunning - and, despite the jewelry vendors, a walk up the main street will keep your camera clicking.
If you are into outdoor adventure then there is charter fishing, hiking, rafting, biking - a lot.
.... but yes ..... it is probably wise to try and avoid the peak days when the cruise ships are stacked up - beyond that Skagway is well worth a visit.
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I have been to Skagway in both summers and winters. Winters are "quaint and cute, plus boring, IMHO. Days and times of those days when the cruise ships are not in port, are also fun. But many of the shops run hours that coincide with the cruise ships being at the docks.
Many/most of the main street gift shops are not locally owned, even with the Alaska sounding names some have out front. I was talking to one of the clerks in a jewelry store and asked her, who owned the shop. She said she didn't know but her pay checks had the name of a large NY City jewelry chain across the top. Many of the Skagway shops, like the cruise ship industry in general, does very little to help out the Alaska economy. Most are Lower 48 owned, staffed by employees brought up from outside to work the summer, etc.
But for a day or so, I can have fun in Skagway riding the train, visiting the museums, taking a fast ferry over to Haines for the day if Skagway gets too busy for me.
The docks in Skagway were not put in for the cruise ships, but for ore shipments out of the Yukon and northern BC, the Cassiar Mines in particular. Before the Cassiar Hwy was all connected, much of the concentrate of ores from Yukon/northern BC, were shipped out of the ice free, deep water port of Skagway. Once the mines ceased shipping the asbestos, the White pass and Yukon Route railroad also stopped running for a few years. Then the tourist market developed enough to justify running the train from town to the top of the hill and back to Skagway. Just recently there was a meeting between the governor of Alaska and the PM of Yukon, to discuss more shipping of Canadian mining products out of Skagway.
Anyway back when the mines were shipping ore, year around and jobs existed in Skagway, the year around, it was "quaint and cute". A friend of mine, now in Juneau, did work for the railroad as an accountant in Skagway. When it closed operations, he and his family opened a restaurant in Skagway, upon selling that business, they moved to Juneau. It was a nice town, when there was a viable economy all year.
Skagway can be fun, just be aware of what drives their economy now, and that is the cruise industry, which can unload, up to 15,000 people a day upon the town. A town of about 500 people in the winter time, most years.
* This post was
edited 09/21/11 07:36am by joe b. *
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