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Skagway

At first sight, Skagway appears to be solely an amusement park for cruise-ship day-trippers, a million of whom disgorge onto its sunny boardwalks every summer. But, haunted by Klondike ghosts and beautified by a tight grid of handsome false-fronted buildings, this is no northern Vegas. Skagway’s history is very real.

During the 1898 gold rush, 40,000 stampeders passed through the nascent settlement; they were a sometimes-unsavory cast of characters who lived against a backdrop of brothels, gunfights and debauched entertainment wilder than the Wild West. Today, the main actors are seasonal workers, waitstaff posing in period costume and storytelling national-park rangers. Indeed, most of the town’s important buildings are managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and this, along with Skagway's location on the cusp of a burly wilderness with trails (including the legendary Chilkoot) leading off in all directions, has saved it from overt Disneyfication. Dive in and join the show.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Skagway.