Should I rent a car in Skagway?

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#1
Georgia
11 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Hi all,

I'm arriving in Skagway the first week of June for a day. We dock at 7am and depart at 4pm.

Should I rent a car for a day? Emerald Lake looks awesome - would there be ample time to get there and enjoy it? I know there is Caribou Crossing on the way - is it worth a stop or should we skip it? Also, is there anything else to stop and look at along the way? It does make me anxious to rent and car and get back in time, but I think that is our best choice as to what to do.

I know Avis doesn't allowed going to Dyea, but Green Jeep Rental does. Is Dyea worth a stop, or is it not worth the time?

If we don't rent a car, we're looking at possibly taking a bike tour in Skagway. Does anyone have any suggestions about one to take? Is there anything we must actually do in the town Skagway? The costumes and tours I've seen so far look very touristy - we're more interested in seeing nature than watching someone put on a show.

Sorry for all the questions, I'm ready for the trip to Alaska!
#2
1,524 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
By all means, rent a car from Avis. Whenever we've been in Skagway, we do a rental and head to the Yukon. You are right about the town being heavy on the tourist trade. It's a great drive, stopping along the way to see the sights. Our ship was in port a bit longer than yours, so on our last cruise we headed to White Horse.

I'm not a fan of bus tours - too much waiting for others getting off & on the bus. In addition, the bus can only stop a larger "look outs" while a car allows you to stop a small paved areas for great pictures.

Reserve the car ahead of time, and be sure to be one of the first off the ship and get in line outside of Avis. Once on the road, try to stay ahead of the tour bus. Allow enough time to fill up the car at a gas station in town before you return it to the lot.

Each time we have driven to the Yukon, we have seen bears along the side of the road munching on dandilions.

Darcy
#3
Westerville, OH USA
1,680 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
On our first trip, we took the railway and then shuttle which was a wonderful adventure. We noted that the road was not heavily traveled so we rented a car through Avis the next time. The scenery really is worth while. Get to the rental place ASAP as the rental line was quite long, but efficient. Check out where the town gas station is for your return fill up and just follow Murray's Guide.
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#4
Georgia
11 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by WatchHill
Reserve the car ahead of time, and be sure to be one of the first off the ship and get in line outside of Avis. Once on the road, try to stay ahead of the tour bus. Allow enough time to fill up the car at a gas station in town before you return it to the lot.
So Avis is definitely better than Green Jeep Tours? How much time should I allow for being back in Skagway to fill up, turn in the car, and get back on the ship?

Avis doesn't open until 8:00, so can we expect to be on the road by 8:30 - assuming we're there when it opens? 5 hours RT from Emerald Lake - is this taking into account stops and crossing the border? Emerald Lake will definitely be the turn around point.

After reading, I think we're definitely going to reserve a car. Just need to decide if it'll definitely be Avis.
#6
419 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
Avis or Sourdough will do. I rented from Sourdough last time, no problems.

Its more a question of bang for the buck, in my mind... I traveled w/ a family of 5, so renting a minivan + hire a local guide to show us around Skageway and the Yukons makes a lot of sense. We essentially got two tours for the price of 1

Just rent your car early.
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#7
Issaquah, WA
3,823 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Originally posted by Blair12
So Avis is definitely better than Green Jeep Tours? How much time should I allow for being back in Skagway to fill up, turn in the car, and get back on the ship?

Avis doesn't open until 8:00, so can we expect to be on the road by 8:30 - assuming we're there when it opens? 5 hours RT from Emerald Lake - is this taking into account stops and crossing the border? Emerald Lake will definitely be the turn around point.

After reading, I think we're definitely going to reserve a car. Just need to decide if it'll definitely be Avis.
There is only one gas station in town, with 2 pumps. We were lucky to get there when there was no line, but I have heard there can be lines at times.



Be at Avis before they open. We got there about 15 - 20 minutes before they opened and there were already several people in line. By the time they opened, the line was long.

Allow time for delays at the border, both directions. We waited 20 - 30 minutes going out, a little less coming back. Seemed like they cared more about checking through the big tour buses to keep them on schedule, and just let the passenger cars sit and line up.

The 5 hour estimate is allowing for stops and such. Since you have a 4 PM sailing time, you'll need to be back on board by 3:30, so should have the car dropped off and walking back to ship by 3. That gives you 6+ hours from pickup to drop off. Watch your time carefully, but you should be fine.
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#8
Syracuse, New York
49,538 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Blair12
So Avis is definitely better than Green Jeep Tours? How much time should I allow for being back in Skagway to fill up, turn in the car, and get back on the ship?

Avis doesn't open until 8:00, so can we expect to be on the road by 8:30 - assuming we're there when it opens? 5 hours RT from Emerald Lake - is this taking into account stops and crossing the border? Emerald Lake will definitely be the turn around point.

After reading, I think we're definitely going to reserve a car. Just need to decide if it'll definitely be Avis.
You need to allow 5 hours for the 150miles round trip. There is only one gas station in Skagway, and I had to "line" jump a couple years ago, since later in the day, all the buses, RV's etc are filling up taking a lot of time.
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#9
Syracuse, New York
49,538 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Blair12
Hi all,

I'm arriving in Skagway the first week of June for a day. We dock at 7am and depart at 4pm.

Should I rent a car for a day? Emerald Lake looks awesome - would there be ample time to get there and enjoy it? I know there is Caribou Crossing on the way - is it worth a stop or should we skip it? Also, is there anything else to stop and look at along the way? It does make me anxious to rent and car and get back in time, but I think that is our best choice as to what to do.

I know Avis doesn't allowed going to Dyea, but Green Jeep Rental does. Is Dyea worth a stop, or is it not worth the time?

If we don't rent a car, we're looking at possibly taking a bike tour in Skagway. Does anyone have any suggestions about one to take? Is there anything we must actually do in the town Skagway? The costumes and tours I've seen so far look very touristy - we're more interested in seeing nature than watching someone put on a show.

Sorry for all the questions, I'm ready for the trip to Alaska!
Yes- it "could" all be a great choice, depending on your interests. Skagway is also history laden- with spectacular scenery seen from the White Pass RR.
Skagway isn't a one time trip, but many to get the options in.
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#10
Minnesota
623 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
I read somewhere on here the other day that it appeared sourdough was not in business anymore??? We rented two times and train once. I like the car so we can stop when we want etc. Easy drive. Got in line at Avis by 7:30 and were on the road by 8:20. Some stop to get snacks, but we just filled up our coffee on the boat and hit the road. We saw a few bears by the side of the road and the scenery of awesomme!!!!! We like Avis cause we could rent it on line and didnt need to wait to hear from someone.
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#11
Spokane, Washington, USA
1,389 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Here is my trip report from our visit to the Yukon Last Summer.
http://goldenalaska.wordpress.com/20...esday-july-24/

My favorite place was this photo stop where the White Pass & Yukon Route bridge crosses over the Thompson River.

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#14
Syracuse, New York
49,538 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by croosieloosie
Is the scenery very different by train rather than by car?
Very different. Despite what you will hear, on the White Pass summit trips, there is actually only a couple miles of common view, you will hear how much cheaper it is by car to see the same thing, you do not, and just about always- these are people who have never been on the train. The White Pass is also historic, and gives a much clearer picture of the conditions the prospectors had to endure. The Klondike Highway was finished in the 70's.

Especially the Lake Bennett train, Skagway to Carcross one way- is spectacular and has the nice combo of both modes of travel. Certainly a top tour choice.
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#15
154 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
I've been to Carcross and Emerald Lake twice. The first time was in a van with Dyea Dave and a few other people. That was a hoot. Since it was mid-May, the dandelions were out on the side of the highway and there were a number of bear sightings and photo ops. Dave is pretty funny and knows his history.

Last August I rented a car first thing in the morning in Skagway (yes, get there before the 8:00 opening). Drove to Carcross for lunch and then on to Emerald Lake. It was nice having the flexibility to stop where I wanted to take pictures. Didn't see as many bears (no dandelions), although I was having to watch the road more than the sides where the bears might be. Very foggy at the summit. Had to slow down to about 15 mph in order to see. Fortunately, the traffic was pretty light that day.

It it was my first time to the area, I would probably do the tour again. Armed with the knowledge from my first visit, I wouldn't hesitate to do the car rental on my own the next time.
#16
Danville, CA
393 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
We have been to Skagway twice and rented a car to drive into the Yukon both times. Great trips...even when time is short. Just keep your eye on the clock...and be there when the place opens. We'll be back in Skagway this year and will rent a car again. So much to explore and every time is different.
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#17
Vancouver, B.C.
314 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Blair12

I know Avis doesn't allowed going to Dyea, but Green Jeep Rental does. Is Dyea worth a stop, or is it not worth the time?
Does anyone know if Avis still does not allow driving to Dyea?
The gravel road there looks fairly decent.
#18
Syracuse, New York
49,538 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Mingus
Does anyone know if Avis still does not allow driving to Dyea?
The gravel road there looks fairly decent.
I would suggest calling them directly and inquire.
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#19
616 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I know this is an older thread, but wanted to ask whether there is a lot of traffic starting up the road at 8:30, right after everyone rents a car

We'll be in port from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., so would it be better to wait a little or does it even get busier after 9? Do the tour buses generally leave around 8? I checked out the port schedule and we are the last of 3 ships arriving in Skagway that day.
#20
Fairbanks, AK
4,839 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
We have rented a car in Skagway, and were one of the first folks at the Avis office when they opened. There won't be "a lot of traffic" heading out of Skagway -- remember Skagway is a very small community.