Ride the White Pass & Yukon Railway
One of the world’s great train rides is the White Pass and Yukon Railway which operates out of SkagwayAlaska and travels into Canada terminating in Canada at either Fraser in northern British Columbia or Carcross in the Yukon Territory.
What is so amazing about this railway is that it was constructed over a century ago, starting in Skagway in 1898 and completed to Bennett BC in 1899 and then to Carcross Yukon in 1900. It was built to facilitate the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 and Skagway was the best port available to reach the Yukon.
A narrow 3 ft. (914 mm) gauge was chosen for this railway as it was cheaper and it allowed for a tighter radius to be used on curves which could follow the landscape more as it climbed to the White Pass summit.
We journeyed to Alaska on the cruise ship Holland America Ryndam. In Skagway our shore excursion was to take the White Pass and Yukon Railway from Skagway to Fraser British Columbia (BC), then get on a small bus to continue to Carcross in the Yukon, then return to Skagway on this bus.
The trains are all original dating back over a century and they still work and will thrill you as the train climbs the White Pass through two tunnels, over several trestle bridges and beside deep gorges on one side and rising mountain walls on the other side. The train follows the route that prospectors had to take on foot (before the train was built) and markers are posted along the route which you can see from the train.
We took this train in September and it was on the cool side thus the heater was on inside our rail car and we used it to warm up our hands when we came inside. You are allowed outside at the ends of each car to take pictures and this is the best opportunity to get amazing photos. It can get crowded outside as people jostle for the best viewing spots or you can sit inside and relax from your seat as the train climbs the mountain to the White Pass Summit.
As you climb the mountain you are treated to deep gorges, waterfalls, creeks and stunning mountain scenery! Some people chose to get off the train about half way up and hike down the old trail to Skagway however we were not that adventuresome and we also wanted to continue into the Yukon.
The White Pass summit is on the border of Alaska and BC and the North-West Mounted Police (forerunner to the Canadian Mounties) customs station is located nearby where the Klondike gold seekers a century ago had to pass through.
Once in Canada the scenery was equally amazing with beautiful lakes, streams and gorgeous vistas.
Our next portion of the trip included a bus trip to Carcross in the Yukon (see this Hub: http://hubpages.com/hub/Carcross-in-the-Yukon-Territory )