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One of the great scamsters of all time was Soapy Smith, a con artist who led a gang that preyed upon the naive hordes who descended on Skagway in droves in 1897 hoping to strike it rich in the Yukon gold fields. Fools and their money were soon parted. It's easy to suspect that Soapy would approve of Skagway today, where $2 t-shirt shops litter the waterfront preying on cruise-ship rubes. But expend a bit of effort and get beyond the hordes to experience a real slice of frontier history. After the boats depart in the early evening the once coagulated streets are deserted and you can fully appreciate the town's old buildings and dramatic ...

One of the great scamsters of all time was Soapy Smith, a con artist who led a gang that preyed upon the naive hordes who descended on Skagway in droves in 1897 hoping to strike it rich in the Yukon gold fields. Fools and their money were soon parted. It's easy to suspect that Soapy would approve of Skagway today, where $2 t-shirt shops litter the waterfront preying on cruise-ship rubes. But expend a bit of effort and get beyond the hordes to experience a real slice of frontier history. After the boats depart in the early evening the once coagulated streets are deserted and you can fully appreciate the town's old buildings and dramatic setting at the end of the Lynn Canal fjord. Expend a lot of effort and traverse the rugged Chilkoot Trail over the 3,525-foot Chilkoot Pass into Canada and on to the Yukon. Just learning the history of the Yukon gold rush that drew the likes Jack London and thousands of deluded others up this deadly pass is worth a visit to Skagway. Or take the stunning White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, which climbs the peaks and deserves all of its hype.

Ryan Ver Berkmoes
About the Expert

Ryan Ver Berkmoes has written many books for Lonely Planet, including Bali & Lombok and the Southeastern Alaska and Western Canada sections for LP's Canada guide.

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Ryan Ver Berkmoes for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Little is open outside of May to September.