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Skagway - Rent a Car or White Pass Railroad?


gvgseg
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My family (me, wife, 2 kids - 10 and 7) were planning to do White Pass Railway when we stop in Skagway in August. However, I am also considering renting a car and trying to drive the Klondike Highway up into Yukon. My wife thinks the kids will enjoy the train experience but I'm wondering if they will quickly get bored, especially since you don't stop anywhere. It seems like we could see much more at about half of the price of the train tickets by renting a car and driving ourselves. Curious to hear people's opinions on these two options.

 

Also, does anyone have experience with using Affordable Car Rental in Skagway?

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I definitely would rent the car and go at least to Emerald Lake before returning. You will see more and have the ability to stop for wildlife and scenic views. Do a Google search for Murray’s Guide.

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Posted (edited)

I'd have wanted to take the bus/train combo to Carcross, but since that isn't an option this year, maybe you'll have time to take the WPYRR roundtrip to the border and rent a car afterwards to drive to the Yukon, depending on your port times? (On the itinerary I was considering, Skagway was a pretty long stop, something like 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.)

Edited by strickerj
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It was quite a time ago that we did the car rental in Skagway (probably 20 years ago), but we were definitely happy with our decision.  You will see the same scenery as the White Pass, but from the other side of the river.  You can stop to take pictures, and you can go all the way to Carcross before turning around.  If you go into the Yukon Territory, you will have to cross the Canadian border, so you'll need your passports and possibly the ArriveCAN QR code(???)

If you decide to ride the White Pass RR, sit on the left side.

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We rented a keep from DIY Jeep Tours in 2019 and drive to Emerald Lake. Stopping to take pictures and explore for as long as we liked was what made it completely worthwhile. Not only did we get to really enjoy the landscape and wildlife we stopped at the Yukon suspension bridge, played with sled dog puppies, and ventured out into the Carcross Desert. 
 

the train looks cool, but we enjoyed being able to have flexibility and control over what we saw and for how long. 

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We rented a car in 2018 from Avis.  Since you have kids, you can stop when you wish.  Do download Murray's Guide.  We didn't see any bears, but there was a small forest fire across the way, and we saw some trees go up in flames from the top down!

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How about doing both? The train only goes to the Summit right now so just a two hour round trip. If you have a long day in Skagway which is usually the case you still have plenty of time to do the drive into the Yukon. You will get the best of both worlds! We were in Skagway in May and rented from Avis. They open really early. You could pick up your car, park it, do the train trip and then do the road trip after. 

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5 hours ago, karatemom2 said:

How about doing both? The train only goes to the Summit right now so just a two hour round trip. If you have a long day in Skagway which is usually the case you still have plenty of time to do the drive into the Yukon. You will get the best of both worlds! We were in Skagway in May and rented from Avis. They open really early. You could pick up your car, park it, do the train trip and then do the road trip after. 

Do you mean take the train from Skagway, return to Skagway then from Skagway again drive the same route by car but go further into Yukon and return again?
 

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We were in Skagway today. We did a small group bus tour into the Yukon but saw lots of other folks in rentals, so it seemed pretty easily feasible. Would have liked more time in Skagway to explore after the tour, but RCI Radiance had an early-ish all-aboard in order to make a second call for the day at Haines. 

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7 hours ago, traceytd said:

Do you mean take the train from Skagway, return to Skagway then from Skagway again drive the same route by car but go further into Yukon and return again?
 


Yes. The experience and what you see on each are very different. It may be the same route but being able to stop along the way on the road trip offers an entirely different experience. Plus on the road trip you can go much further into the Yukon. You have time to do both if you have a nice long port day. 

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On 6/26/2022 at 2:03 AM, gvgseg said:

My family (me, wife, 2 kids - 10 and 7) were planning to do White Pass Railway when we stop in Skagway in August. However, I am also considering renting a car and trying to drive the Klondike Highway up into Yukon. My wife thinks the kids will enjoy the train experience but I'm wondering if they will quickly get bored, especially since you don't stop anywhere. It seems like we could see much more at about half of the price of the train tickets by renting a car and driving ourselves. Curious to hear people's opinions on these two options.

 

Also, does anyone have experience with using Affordable Car Rental in Skagway?

We've decided to rent a car and drive the route on our own and will add on a stop to see the sled dogs with the money we saved from not riding the train.

 

Thanks everyone four your input. 

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Check out Turo.com.  That is a car share program like Airbnb, only for vehicles.  You might save enough money using them to buy lunch, too!

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On 6/26/2022 at 2:01 PM, SueMo said:

If you decide to ride the White Pass RR, sit on the left side.

Since trips this summer are all RT, does it really matter which side to sit on?

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On 6/29/2022 at 7:29 AM, Gramma of Boys said:

I would suggest a stop at Emerald Lake if you can.  It's really beautiful.

 

The Yukon Suspension Bridge is kind of a neat stop also.

20220607_134241 (2).jpg

20220607_094526.jpg

Stunning photos!!!

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We just got back and rented through Affordable car rental. Nils was great to work with and he had the car waiting at the port. We were given a code and the key was in a lock box on the car. We were able to get an early start and we were the first ones to the dog sled camp of Michelle Phillips. We spent a lot of time learning about the Iditarod and playing with the puppies. Highly recommended.

Tagish Lake Kennel tours, Join Michelle Phillips And Ed Hopkins

Affordable car rental can also pack you a picnic lunch. They own Bites on Broadway in town. We printed out a copy of Murrays guide and did our own thing all day.

We did not get asked for ArriveCan, but make sure you stop at the red light coming through customs.

There was no one there, so we pulled up to the window. I guess that was a big no no.

We parked in town after our drive a shopped for a while, then retuned the car back to the port--no walking required.  Highly recommended!

Skagway Alaska Cruise Rental Cars - Home - Affordable Car Rental (skagwaycarrental.com)

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8 hours ago, YVRteacher said:

Stunning photos!!!

 

Is the suspension bridge open again?   The last time I was there, it was closed.  The time before that, it wasn't worth the time and expense even though it was open.

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42 minutes ago, tetleytea said:

Is the suspension bridge open again?   The last time I was there, it was closed.  The time before that, it wasn't worth the time and expense even though it was open.

The photo that I posted was taken during the first week of June.  It was open then.  The cost was included in the shore excursion that we were on, so I guess I didn't even think of whether it was worth the expense or not.

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When we rent a car, we wind up not having enough time to do everything even when there's only a few of us and it's a 10-hour port of call.   I slash the Yukon Bridge now from the schedule.  I'm thinking of slashing even Emerald Lake and turning around at the Carcross Desert instead.

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I have booked a tour to the yukon with Chilkoot charters...is it better to rent a car? There are only 2 of us and we have never been...I figured having a guide the first time to hear the history (and be a well-tipped photographer 😆) would be beneficial. Other than being able to go as fast/slow as we like, what are other benefits of going on our own?

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Posted (edited)

I am opinionated that renting a car is better.  But when your party size gets down to two, I am open that other people might not necessarily feel the same way.

 

It's not just about being able to pace your trip:   you can stop on a dime if you sight wildlife.   The buses can't call an audible like that nearly as much, or as fast.   Also, if you gun it up to Carcross and then tour the sights on the way back, you do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  You'll beat the crowds to the Carcross Dogs, food, and stuff.  And then if you get back early, Jewell Gardens is right there.  

 

 

Edited by tetleytea
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20 minutes ago, tetleytea said:

I am opinionated that renting a car is better.  But when your party size gets down to two, I am open that other people might not necessarily feel the same way.

 

It's not just about being able to pace your trip:   you can stop on a dime if you sight wildlife.   The buses can't call an audible like that nearly as much, or as fast.   Also, if you gun it up to Carcross and then tour the sights on the way back, you do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  You'll beat the crowds to the Carcross Dogs, food, and stuff.  And then if you get back early, Jewell Gardens is right there.  

 

 

I will have to look at it again and weigh the pros and cons. Thank you 🙂

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Also, the driver doesn't get to just sit and take in the sights as much.  Which doesn't bother me--I like the drive as part of the experience, and I like the control, especially when I've sailed Alaska more than my shipmates have.  That's one reason why a party of 2 might feel differently:  because you both can just sit there with cameras.   The other reason, of course, is the cost:  flat fee rental car, vs. per-person for guided tour.

 

What I like is just to rent the car for 2 and see if anyone on the ship wants to go in with us.  It has little to do with splitting the cost of the rental.

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