Our first stop on the Disney 7-day Alaska cruise was the town of Skagway, Alaska. This is a very cute, rustic town with a main street lined with nice shops. One of the town’s main attractions is a scenic train ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route that goes from Skagway into the Yukon Territory. You could do this on your own or as part of a Disney excursion. However, for the 4 of us it seemed a little expensive and we wouldn’t be able to get out and see the sights outside of the train. So, after doing a little research we decided to rent a car in Skagway and drive into the Yukon Territory in Canada. And we were so glad we did! It was less expensive, we could travel at our own pace and get out of the car whenever we saw a sight we wanted to examine more closely or to take photos. At points along our route, we could see the train or train tracks over by the mountain base, so I believe we took a similar path. After picking up our car (which we reserved ahead of time), we went out of town, crossed over a wild looking metal bridge and headed onto the Klondike Highway. At first the roads were a little steep and narrow, but not for long. Soon, we were in wide open territory between mountains, with beautiful blue lakes and scenery on either side of us. We stopped multiple places for photos -- including a cool photo by a sign that read “Yukon Territory.” After about 15 miles you cross into Canada -- so be sure to have your passport on you!
Our first lengthy stop was at Caribou Crossing, a cute place with dogs who have participated in the Iditarod, goats, a wildlife museum and eatery. You can take a ride in a wheeled cart and be pulled along by sled dogs, which looked fun, although we chose not to do so. We did visit and play with the husky puppies, perused the museum and interacted with the lively goats. We probably stayed here just under an hour.
Our next stop was the town of Carcross. This was another quaint town with cute shops and eateries. You could have your passport stamped in the Matthew Watson general store and climb onto an old steam engine. Just outside the town is the Carcross desert - the world’s smallest desert measuring 1 square mile. We went a little further to see Emerald Lake, a truly beautiful green and turquoise colored lake. This was our turnaround point. We then headed back to Skagway, going the same way we came. (Honestly, I’m not sure there is another route!) Just outside Skagway, we stopped at a scenic overlook from which we could see the town, the port and our Disney cruise ship. It made for some great photos. (We also encountered a Disney film crew who put us to work for a film/commercial shoot -- but that’s another story!)
I highly recommend this set-your-own pace adventure. It was beautiful, economical and gave the kids plenty to see and do. Total drive time was about 4 hours roundtrip, but of course with stops and sightseeing, it was more like 6 total.