One of the things we were most excited about when we booked the Alaska cruise was the opportunity to see some of the last true wilderness areas in the world. Our excursion to the Yukon territory let us do just that. It also gave us the opportunity to see wildlife, snuggle puppies, and ride a historic train.
We took a bus from Skagway along the Klondike Highway. We made a few stops along the way so everyone could get out and enjoy a beautiful day and the spectacular scenery. Along the way we crossed an unusual bridge, the Captain William Moore Bridge, an earthquake-proof suspension bridge. It’s only anchored on one side, so if the ground shifts due to an earthquake the other side will move freely.
The scenery was amazing. I would have never imagined the amount of greenery and blooms that we saw in May in the Yukon. There was still plenty of ice on the ground but there were plenty of signs of spring as well.
The main destination on the excursion was Caribou Crossing, a tourist stop not far from the little town of Carcross. Carcross, by the way, was once named Caribou Crossing, but the town changed its name to Carcross to differentiate it from the other six towns in the Yukon named Caribou Crossing.
We had a nice lunch at Caribou Crossing and then explored the taxidermy museum. We were not excited about taxidermy but I will say the museum was really interesting and the taxidermy was some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Caribou Crossing was also our first opportunity to interact with sled dogs. The sled dogs at Caribou Crossing are racing dogs and are a good bit smaller than working sled dogs, the National Park Service sled dogs, for instance. We got to pet on some of the adult dogs, watch a team pull a cart filled with tourists, and pet on puppies.
After our time at Caribou Crossing we took a short ride up the highway to Emerald Lake, a lake known for its intense green color. Quite beautiful.
Our last stop before connecting with the train ride back to Skagway was the small town of Carcross. Carcross has been the home to Tlingit and Tagish First Nations people for at least 4,500 years. The town of roughly 300 residents and is where we caught the train.
After a quick stop in Carcross we hopped on the bus to catch the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad for our trip back to Skagway. We were delayed for a few minutes so we could observe a black bear that was scavenging along the highway. It was our first bear sighting of the cruise.
Black bears can be any color, like this ginger colored bear. Similarly, Brown bears can range from black to a unique blush color. Black bears are smaller that brown bears and are missing the large hump over their front shoulders. Also, black bears don’t have the dished out nose like brown bears do.
Finally, we were ready to board the train for our ride back to Skagway. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad is an N-scale that had its origin in the Yukon Gold Rush. The railroad was started in 1898 and when it opened in 1900 it supplanted the Chilkoot trail as the primary route into the Yukon. Today it’s primarily a tourist train but does make several stops along the way to pick up hikers, campers and off-gridders who need a ride into Skagway.
The train ride is one of the more popular excursions on the cruise lines and it’s no wonder. The trip was enjoyable and the train ran through some of the most beautiful scenery in North America.