Tips for Traveling the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway

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View out the window of the whitepass Yukon railcar

You don’t have to be a railfan to appreciate the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. It’s an experience where the journey is as impressive as the destination.

Travelers can ride the rails and take a trip back in time while enjoying epic views of the rugged landscapes. This is an incredible option if you’re looking for a way to pass the time. 

Today, we’re sharing tips to make riding the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway an unforgettable experience.

Climb aboard, and let’s get started!

What Is the White Pass and Yukon Railway?

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway is a narrow-gauge railway. It runs from Carcross in the Yukon Territory of Canada over the White Pass Summit and then down to Skagway, Alaska. It tried to play a significant role during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 19th century. Those hoping to strike it rich would be able to access the various goldfields in Dawson City and throughout the Klondike region.

Miners and their loved ones would be able to travel the rails instead of conquering the mountains, deep canyons, and harsh weather conditions on foot or horseback. The rail would help get them and their equipment safely to the goldfields.

Unfortunately, the gold rush ended before they completed the rail, but the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway lived on. Tourists come from around the world to ride the rails and experience the incredible views.

It provides some of the best views of the remote and challenging environment. It was designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1994, of which only 36 other marvels exist.

How Long Is the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway?

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway travels approximately 67 miles. However, it offers a variety of routes and excursions. The distance and duration of your railway journey depend on your chosen course. The routes provide between 20 and 67 miles of railway adventures.

The longest trip is the Bennett Scenic Journey, which covers 120 miles round-trip. However, passengers only ride the train one way. You start or end the eight-hour adventure by riding the train or taking the bus. If you ride the bus to Carcross, you’ll return via train to Skagway. On the other hand, if you ride the train to Carcross, you’ll then return to Skagway on the bus. 

As always, check with the railway for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Route lengths and durations can change due to a variety of circumstances. You don’t want any surprise changes to ruin the experience.

Tips for Traveling the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway

Here are some great tips to make the most of your White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. They can help you to prepare so you and your fellow rail riders have the best experience possible.

Book in Advance

This is a very popular excursion, especially with cruise ship passengers. As a result, it can sell out, especially during the summer months. Don’t expect to show up on the day of your trip and get a ticket. While this is possible for some trips or during certain parts of the season, it’s not always the case.

Whether traveling solo or with a group, do yourself a favor and book as early as possible. This allows you to lock in the date and route. Once you book your tickets, you can start thinking about other aspects of your trip. You can avoid disappointment and stress, especially if traveling during the peak season.

Arrive Early

Another helpful tip you need to consider is arriving early. This can eliminate stress and anxiety, and you’ll be able to handle any essential tasks and get familiar with the area before boarding the train. Arriving at the last minute can be stressful, especially if you don’t know where to go.

The last-minute rush can distract you from enjoying the experience. Arriving early can let you capture photographs of your crew and the station. You don’t want to look back and wish you had more time to explore and take it all in.

White Pass train boarding passengers in Skagway, AK

Wear the Right Clothes

Like many Alaskan adventures, you must choose the right clothes. Typically, it’s best to dress in layers. This allows you more flexibility when adjusting for weather conditions. Temperature differences between lower and upper elevations can be 40 degrees or more. If you’re not prepared, it can be a miserable experience.

By dressing appropriately, you’ll be able to appreciate and enjoy the experience. You’ll stay comfortable, and the weather conditions won’t distract you from the beauty surrounding you on the trip.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re prepared for your Alaskan adventure and read our tried and true guide on What to Pack for Alaska!

Choose the Correct Side

While the incredible landscapes will be on both sides of the White Pass and Yukon railway, most visitors find that the left side offers the best views. However, if you’re on a round-trip, you can sit on the opposite side on the return trip to experience both.

Additionally, it’s possible to switch sides throughout the trip. If there’s wildlife or something that you want to see, look for an open seat or opportunity to take a peek. As long as you’re polite, there’s a good chance other guests will accommodate you.

Bring Your Camera

As we’ve said, the views of the natural beauty of this area are stunning. Bring a camera for the adventure to capture them as best you can. However, don’t get so caught up in capturing pictures or videos that you don’t experience it yourself.

You don’t have to have an expensive camera with a fancy lens. Most smartphones these days have quality cameras that can do a great job. These can do the job if you only plan to post them on social media. However, you may want a higher-quality camera to make them into large posters or print them.

Remember to charge your batteries and have plenty of storage space. If you have SD cards, free up space climbing aboard the train. Plenty of storage space and battery ensures you can capture anything you want to share or remember at the end of your trip.

man sticking ipad camera out side of train

Pay Attention

One of the best things about these adventures is that they use almost all your senses. Being fully present in the experience allows you to enjoy the unforgettable experience. Stay focused on the landscapes, towering mountains, and cascading waterfalls.

Additionally, the White Pass and Yukon railway passes by lush valleys and forests home to many wildlife. You never know what could come out and greet the train while you’re passing through. Being present at the moment can allow you to take more than photographs during the trip. You can take priceless memories with you at the end of your journey.

Keep in Mind: If you have more than a day in the area, then you should consider visiting White Horse, Yukon.

Is the White Pass and Yukon Railway Route Worth It?

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway is an unforgettable experience. The epic views you’ll enjoy during the adventure are out of this world. However, it’s worth noting that these aren’t the cheapest excursions. It’s a premium experience that can be expensive, especially for families. 

However, if you’re willing to pay a premium price, you can see why many call it the “Scenic Railway of the World.” Just make sure you take the time to soak it all in. Stare into the rugged landscapes and take a deep breath. There’s a lot to take in, and pictures don’t do it justice.

Would you travel the White Pass and Yukon Railway Route?

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