Thursday, October 16, 2014

Get Into The Pioneer Spirit With Skagway Private Tours

By Patty Goff

There are many places in the United States where you can still get into the spirit of those early settlers who came to tame the land and seek the American Dream. One of these places is the state of Alaska, the Frontier State. It's renowned for its stunning scenery and the chance to explore the wilderness like people did a century or two ago. With Skagway private tours, you can follow in those pioneers' footsteps and enjoy one of the most beautiful corners of the USA.

The town of Skagway is quite small and normally doesn't even have a thousand residents. It lies at a fjord in Alaska's southeast, making it a gateway to the Klondike. Juneau, the Alaskan capital, lies to the southeast.

The area was first inhabited by people known as the Tlingit. However, in 1887 a retired ship's captain built himself a homestead here. He was called William Moore and you can still visit the cabin he built. Moore suspected that there could be gold nearby and within years he was proven right. The town boomed during the Klondike Gold Rush and many historic buildings still stand. The Skagway Museum provides a more general history of the town but for more about the gold-rush era, visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the Mascot Saloon Museum.

If you want some nature with your trip into the past, take a hike along one of the trails that the miners used back in the day. A guide will be able to tell you more about the people who worked here. The two main trails are the Chilkoot Trail, which leads to a ghost town called Dyea, and the White Pass Trail to a series of lakes.

The scenery in the area is spectacular and there are three great ways to enjoy it. One is to take the ferry to Haines, since it will take you along the fjord and you may see marine creatures such as seals and even whales. You can also splash out on a helicopter tour for a bird's eye view. Most popular, however, is the scenic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.

The best time to visit is in summer, when temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is lower. However, this is prime tourist season too and thousands of visitors pass through, many of them on day excursions from cruise ships. Winters are cold and wet and there is a good chance of snow.

You can reach the town by cruise ship or by taking the ferry route of the Alaska Marine Highway, which connects the town to places like Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Haines. Otherwise, fly in from Juneau. You can also drive in along the Klondike Highway via Canada.

To find a private tour of the area, simply look online. There are several tour operators and they offer everything from guided walks through the historic part of town to adventure excursions into the wilderness. You can even go panning for gold. Remember though to book well in advance if you're planning on visiting during the high season.

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