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Exploring the Gateway to the Yukon

Having been to all of the featured ports (and having experienced all their major attractions) on this itinerary previously, I felt that this trip more closely resembled reuniting with old friends rather than making new ones, and a very comfortable, leisurely way to vacation.  Consequently, numerous past visits to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, had fully prepared me for what to expect here, although I was still a bit surprised to see three additional ships in port this late in the season.  The sun was out bright this morning, although clouds moved in this afternoon; so to occupy most of my day, I decided to take a trip out to the massive Mendenhall Glacier, which I hadn’t seen in many years.  This time, though,  I eschewed the typical shore excursions and used public transportation and an easy, level hike to arrive at this landmark on the outskirts of the city…the best $4 that I spent this year!  Nevertheless, it still was interesting to see how far the glacier had receded since my first visit here back in 1976.

A trip on the White Pass & Yukon Railway is pretty much de rigueur for first-timers here, but it’s likely that today’s overcast skies tempered their enthusiasm somewhat for the breathtaking sights encountered en route.  On the other hand, gray clouds do nothing to deter shopping, which is surely the major pursuit in this picturesque tourist community, historic gateway to the goldfields of the Yukon Territory.  After exploring the ever-expanding facilities of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, I even did some rare shopping myself, finding it hard to resist the late-season sales.  The trade-off for September bargains is that sunset no longer comes in the middle of the night but at the end of the “business” day, so cruisers can’t see the magnificent scenery that their ships pass during the evening hours, following scheduled port calls.


Bob H Nov photo 7
The massive, “drive-in” Mendenhall Glacier

Bob H Nov photo 9
Shopping is the major attraction of downtown Skagway