A day trip from Skagway, Alaska

A day trip from Skagway, Alaska into Yukon, Canada is one of our favorite trips on our 7-night Alaskan cruise along the Inside Passage. After spending a couple of days on the ship, cruising by Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay National Park, Skagway was our first port of call where we could get out and explore. And explore we did, in as much time as we had at this port.

The most popular tour/excursion at this port was to ride the train along the old White Pass and Yukon railway route. It is a very scenic route and touted as a "must-do" but you would be spending all your time watching from behind the glass windows. I debated quite a bit about it and finally decided to rent a car instead and drive along the South Klondike Highway which runs parallel to the railway route. And it turned out to be such a fantastic decision!

Skagway is a small town and has one car rental agency and one gas station that closes at 7 pm. We rented the car around 9 am in the morning and returned it around 6:30 pm that evening. We didn't spend much time in the town itself (it was just a few blocks anyways), and soon crossed the US border which is just a few miles away to enter into British Columbia, Canada.
US side of the border
The landscape in Alaska is rugged and beautiful. But the scenery in British Columbia was something else. Known as "Tormented Valley", this alpine tundra region has a stunning landscape with its sparkling blue lakes and stunted forest growth. It was simply jaw-dropping. If it wasn't freezing outside at that time, we would have likely spent more time here.

There were glaciers, mountains, lakes and trees all around us and there were clouds hanging by, adding romance to an already breathtaking landscape. Somewhere along here, there is a Yukon suspension bridge which you can cross by foot for a small admission fee. Lost in the beauty, we missed it on our way forward and it was closed by the time we got back. After the bridge, we passed by the Tutshi Lake enroute to the Yukon border. In Yukon, we pulled over at the Bove Island Viewpoint from where you can get a good view of Tagish Lake, Windy Arm and Bove Island. By this time, the sun appeared and we spent some lovely time admiring the landscape from the wooden viewing deck.

About 10 minutes later, we reached the town of Carcross. It had a small retail village called Carcross Commons which had a coffee shop and restaurant along with several cute artsy shops. We initially missed the left turn that goes to this retail village and went straight ahead looking for a coffee shop. Eventually, we made it back here and found the coffee shop along with the bakery sells gluten-free vegan stuff. Ha! 
Coffee shop & bakery

After driving for another 15 minutes we reached the Emerald Lake known as the "Jewel of Yukon". Man, wasn't that lake pretty? They weren't kidding when they named it after Emerald. 

It was about lunch time, so we decided to look for a nice place to sit and have a quiet picnic without the crowds. We packed some food when we left the ship as we weren't sure if we would find gluten-free dairy free-food (our diet at that time) on this highway. About 15 minutes from the popular Emerald Lake, we found a small sign which said "Lewes Lake". We headed in that direction and reached the end of a road with no sign of any lake. But there was another car parked there, which encouraged us to explore the area to try and locate the lake. So, we walked for about 15-20 minutes along a dirt path wondering after every few minutes if we should continue or turn back. There is always that lingering worry of encountering a bear in remote Alaska/Canada and we weren't even carrying a bear spray (not that it would have helped). We continued to march on that random unmarked trail which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and finally found the lake. And we were so glad we did not turn back.

It was a huge lake in a serene location. There was such calm at this place that is so rare to find nowadays. There was no soul in sight and it briefly felt as if we were the only people on this planet. I don't know where the people in the other parked vehicle went but the vehicle wasn't there when we finally tore ourselves apart from this lovely place.

We then decided to go all the way to Whitehorse, but we could have avoided it and stayed at the lake instead. From Whitehorse, we turned back on the Alaskan Highway and drove along the March Lake until we reached Jake's Corner. From there, we headed south on Highway 8 (Tagish Road) which took us back to Carcross where we rejoined the Klondike Highway and headed back to Skagway. The border crossing back into the US was simple and we reached in time to fill up gas, return the car and get back on the ship an hour before its departure.

It was a day trip I would do again in a heartbeat! I hope you do too.


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