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We will be in Skagway in July on the HAL Zuiderdam and can't decide between taking the train or renting a jeep or car? We like the idea of stopping when we want and being on our own schedule but my DH really likes trains. I've read so many different posts that my mind is spinning and I'm totally confused. We're in our early 50's and this will undoubtedly be our one and only trip so we're trying to pack as much into it as we can. --thanx
On our last cruise to Alaska, we traveled with my husband and his parents. His parents took the train in Skagway and we rented a car. The driving was VERY easy and we were able to drive out into Canada and the Yukon territory and along the way enjoyed some breathtaking scenery (natural waterfalls right by the road; you could get out and walk right up to them and stick your hand in, as well as lots of wildlife and lovely trees and lakes).
His parents enjoyed the train but they said it was boring coming back since the view is the exact same in both directions. They were jealous they didn't come with us in the car.
If you do drive, be aware that gas is hard to find so fill up when you can, and also be sure to take snacks / drinks with you in the car. There were long stretches on the road where there was nothing but nature. I don't know where you'd plan to drive, but our route was absolutely beautiful.
I have taken the train twice (once with my parents, and once with my kids). The first time it was up and down with the train, I agree the way down was not as nice (they have you stay on the same seat so those who were on the mountain side now will see the view, which means if you were on the view side you are now on the mountain side). The seats on the train were very hard. The second trip we went one way by bus, one way by train. I liked that better because you stopped with the bus for pictures, a visit to a mining town, and it was great to see the train from the view points.
If you rent a car the driver will be so busy driving the curving roads that they will not get to enjoy the trip. So I suggest you have your parents do the train/bus trip and you do what I did on my third trip, I went with my husband and used the small tour buses that went up and back. This was very nice as not as much time was used loading and unloading those who wanted to take pictures. We made more stops and the guide/driver was a local who had great information. I got the bus right where the ship docked, it was half the price of the ships bus trip.
Have a great time!
I'm renting a car from Avis in Skagway in June (reserve in advance if you want to do this, as they reportedly are often sold out by the time you arrive in port). Someone in my roll call referred me to Murray's Guide to the South Klondike Highway. There's some good info there. (You can google it and find the site as I can't post it here...)
There's also tour operators (Dyea Dave comes to mind) that offer trips that combine driving and one-way train passage.
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Last edited by gdisney; May 1st, 2012 at 03:51 PM.
There's a chance also if you take the train that your view is severely hampered due to fog. That what happened to the morning train I saw when my ship got into Skagway August 2011.
Here's what I did: I rented a minivan from Sourdough, and hired a guide from Dyea Dave. This combo allowed me to go all the way to Emerald Lake and back, and drive to the start of Chilkoot Trail and back, and see Dyea, the Skagway overlook, etc. And the total cost is perhaps 2/3 or 1/2 or total cost if my family did the same whole itineraries as bus trips.
That's a difficult question. The first time in Skagway, we took the train and really loved the views and interesting commentary.
The next time (I had my grown daughter who's also a mountain climber) I rented a car BUT it was so foggy, we got about four miles up the hiway and turned around to return the car. There was no way we'd see anything, plus I didn't want to get run into.
So, the road AND the train were both deep in fog...........a waste of money for THAT schedule (early morning.
Once I rented a car because I knew my SIL would complain about the hard benches on the train............our drive was heavenly. We took snacks so we could have "lunch" by lakes, etc. and noticed, for instance, that places to stop for ice-cream, etc. had long lines because tour buses often stop at those places.
If it's to be your one and only time to Skagway, I'd suggest the train because it's a once in a lifetime experience!