The Alaska Marine Highway System (tel. 800/642-0066 or 907/983-2941; www.ferryalaska.com) connects Skagway daily with Haines and Juneau. The fare is $31 from Haines, $50 from Juneau. If you're headed to Haines without a vehicle, consider the private Haines-Skagway Fast Ferry. Haines is 15 miles away by boat, but more than 350 miles by road.
Since 1978, Klondike Hwy. 2 has traced the route of the stampeders through the White Pass into Canada, a parallel route to the Chilkoot Trail. The road runs 99 miles, then meets the Alaska Highway a dozen miles southeast of the Yukon capital of Whitehorse. The border is at the top of the pass, 14 miles from Skagway. This is one of the most spectacular drives anywhere in Alaska, with views basically equivalent to those from the White Pass and Yukon Route railway (but a lot cheaper). The road is a well-maintained 2-lane highway with wide shoulders. Do it in clear weather, if possible, as in cloudy weather, all you'll see is whiteout.
Car rentals in Skagway are available from Avis, in the Westmark Hotel at 3rd and Spring streets (tel. 800/230-4898 or 907/983-2247; www.avis.com).
Riding the ferry to Skagway and then heading inland in a rented RV is an attractive option. Expect to pay around $150 to $250 a day, depending upon vehicle size, plus many required extras (it's not a cheap option). Alaska Motorhome Rentals (tel. 800/323-5757; www.bestofalaskatravel.com) rents RVs one-way to Anchorage with a drop-off fee of $795 to $995, plus the cost of the rental, mileage, and gas. The same company, under a different name, also offers structured RV tours from Skagway as add-ons to cruise vacations.
Traveling by bus between Skagway and Anchorage or Fairbanks is not a practical option for most visitors. It's a marginal business to be in, and operators change annually. At best, the journey takes a couple of days. If taking the bus is your goal, contact the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau for the latest advice. They can help you figure out how to get to Whitehorse (summer only) by tour bus or on the White Pass and Yukon Route railway by train and bus, and there to catch another bus to Alaska. Do plan all the details ahead, as otherwise you could be stranded for days.
Several air taxi operators serve Skagway. A round-trip from Juneau costs $236 on Wings of Alaska (tel. 907/789-0790 reservations, or 983-2442 in Skagway; www.ichoosewings.com).
Located in the restored railroad depot, the National Park Service Visitor Center, 2nd Avenue and Broadway (P.O. Box 517), Skagway, AK 99840 (tel. 907/983-2921; www.nps.gov/klgo), is the focal point for activities in Skagway. Rangers answer questions, give talks, show films, and, five times a day, lead an excellent guided walking tour. The building houses a small museum that lays the groundwork for the rest of what you'll see. The Park Service's programs are free. The visitor center is open early May through late September daily from 8am to 6pm; the rest of the year, the museum is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
The Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau Center, 245 Broadway (P.O. Box 1029), Skagway, AK 99840 (tel. 907/983-2854; www.skagway.com), occupies the historic Arctic Brotherhood Hall, the building with the driftwood facade. The website contains links to lodgings and activities, or you can request the same information on paper (order at tel. 888/762-1898). Stop in especially for the handy and informative Skagway Walking Tour Map of historic sites. The center is open summer daily 8am to 6pm but closes at 5pm on weekends; winter Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
The Slow Season -- Skagway is a seasonal community. After September and before May, almost none of the commercial tourist attractions are open, and hardly any lodgings or restaurants. Many residents close their businesses and leave in the fall. This section focuses on what you can do in the summer, and you can assume that most of what is described is not available in the winter.
Skagway's July 4th Parade and Celebration, organized by the chamber of commerce and featuring lots of small-town events, has been a big deal since Soapy Smith led the parade in 1898. The Klondike Road Relay, a 110-mile overnight footrace over the pass, brings hundreds of runners in teams of 10 from all over the world in mid-September. Contact the visitor center for information on any of these events.