Why you’ll love Skagway, Alaska

Gloriously, the largest temperate rainforest in the world surrounds southeast Alaska. The glaciers are bigger than any other in the U.S. in a state that boasts the country’s longest coastline. The word “phenomenal” barely does Skagway justice.

Introduction

A colorful history, scant rain and a lot of cruise ships makes a Skagway one of the most interesting and popular towns to visit in the Inside Passage.

Skagway rarely disappoints visitors. A seven-block corridor along Broadway features historic false-front shops and restaurants, wooden sidewalks, locals in period costumes and restored buildings, many of which are part of the National Park Service-managed Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Beginning in 1897, Skagway and the nearby ghost town of Dyea was the starting place for more than 40,000 gold-rush stampeders who headed to the Yukon primarily by way of the Chilkoot Trail.

Today Skagway survives almost entirely on tourism, as bus tours and more than 400 cruise ships a year turn this small town into a boomtown again every summer. Up to five ships a day stop here and, on the busiest days, more than 8,000 visitors — 10 times the town’s resident population — march off the ships and turn Broadway Avenue into a modern-day version of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Landscape

With more wildlife than people, more miles of trails than roads, and more neighboring mountains than you can see in a day, Skagway is one of Alaska’s wilderness capitals. It’s surrounded by inter-coastal waterways, dense rainforest, steep mountainsides, and wild flower-filled alpine meadows. Skagway offers every legendary Alaska experience you can think of (even paddle boarding!).

The geographical coordinates of Skagway Airport are 59.460 deg latitude, -135.316 deg longitude, and 1,083 ft elevation. The topography within 2 miles of Skagway Airport contains extreme variations in elevation, with a maximum elevation change of 3,973 feet and an average elevation above sea level of 780 feet. Within 10 miles also contains extreme variations in elevation (7,162 feet). Within 50 miles also contains extreme variations in elevation (8,412 feet).

The area within 2 miles of Skagway Airport is covered by trees (55%) and water (29%), within 10 miles by snow and glaciers(28%) and trees (21%), and within 50 miles by snow and glaciers (27%) and trees (20%).

Weather in Skagway

In Skagway, the summers are mild, the winters are long and freezing, and it is overcast year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 18°F to 61°F and is rarely below -3°F or above 71°F.

Average temperatures in Skagway

The warm season lasts for 3.7 months, from May 18 to September 10, with an average daily high temperature above 54°F. The hottest day of the year is July 9, with an average high of 61°F and low of 48°F. The cold season lasts for 3.9 months, from November 12 to March 9, with an average daily high temperature below 34°F. The coldest day of the year is January 15, with an average low of 18°F and high of 27°F.

Rainfall

A wet day is one with at least 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation. The chance of wet days at Skagway Airport varies significantly throughout the year.

The wetter season lasts 5.3 months, from August 22 to February 3, with a greater than 46% chance of a given day being a wet day. The chance of a wet day peaks at 64% on October 10. The drier season lasts 6.6 months, from February 3 to August 22. The smallest chance of a wet day is 29% on June 22.

Among wet days, we distinguish between those that experience rain alone, snow alone, or a mixture of the two. Based on this categorization, the most common form of precipitation at Skagway Airport changes throughout the year. Rain alone is the most common for 8.3 months, from March 11 to November 19. The highest chance of a day with rain alone is 61% on October 9.

Mixed snow and rain is the most common for 2.2 months, from February 11 to March 11 and from November 19 to December 27. The highest chance of a day with mixed snow and rain is 23% on December 10. Snow alone is the most common for 1.5 months, from December 27 to February 11. The highest chance of a day with snow alone is 23% on January 16.

Wildlife in Skagway

Undoubtedly, you’ll find a wealth of wildlife in Skagway. After all, there are more animals than people. From the comfort of one of our tour buses, watch for bears, eagles and other birdlife along the way. Scan the ridges above the Klondike Highway for mountain goats. Skagway is a good jumping-off point for many wildlife viewing experiences.

Skagway was also a jumping-off point for the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, and once boasted a population of over 20,000. Most headed for Canada’s Klondike region, convinced there was “gold in them thar’ hills.” Some struck it rich. Most went home disappointed. Spend a few days in Skagway and you’ll come to realize that, while you may not find any gold, there is definitely wildlife in them thar’ hills.

Resources used

weatherspark.com, adfg.alaska.gov, travelalaska.com