Cruising offers lots of opportunities to get off the boat and explore. Our recent vacation saw us cruising the Alaskan coast and it offered the chance to see not just a state we’ve never visited, but another country, too. During our stop in Skagway, Alaska we took a Jeep Wrangler tour into the Canadian Yukon and it was an incredible experience.
Ready For Adventure
There were two reasons that we picked this excursion from the overwhelming list of choices offered by the cruise line. First, my husband owns a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and is learning about off-roading at home in New Hampshire. Second, I’m an automotive journalist, so the chance to see the Yukon and drive a Jeep off-road was too much to resist.
It all starts in the teeny, tiny town of Skagway which was the northernmost stop for our ship, the Disney Wonder. The cruise ships docked in the port are bigger than the town. The place is very Northern Exposure with a tiny main street and lots of little shops.
We met our guides just outside the ship and they took us by bus to our Jeeps waiting at Alaska Travel Adventures. They were all lined up and ready to go, we just had to pick one and jump inside. Our tour guide led the pack with another guide at the back to brink up the rear. She narrated the trip through a radio and we asked questions about what we saw along the way.
Much of the drive was on the road with scenery that looked like something out of a sci-fi flick. It was beautiful and surreal to see Tormented Valley with its glacial lakes that freeze solid to the bottom during the winter. The further we traveled, the more desolate it became, making Skagway suddenly look like a bustling metropolis.
The Middle of Nowhere
Our destination was Montana Mountain in Carcross, a town named for the caribou that often cross through the area. We turned off the paved roads and onto a dirt road leading up the mountain. The ride was a ridiculous amount of fun with the kids laughing and bouncing around in the back of the Jeep.
There were plenty of mud puddles to splash through, some easy rock crawls, and one washed out area where we had to cross very slowly under the eyes of our guide who got out of her Jeep to spot us. At the top, we were rewarded with an incredible view of the land below. It was breathtaking, even on a cool day with a misty rain falling throughout the trip.
Time For a Snack
We also enjoyed a snack, right on the hood of one of the Jeeps. Everyone nibbled reindeer sausage, salmon paté, cheese, and crackers while we talked about what we hoped to see on our trip. The snack was delicious and the company was wonderful. Then it was back into our Jeeps to head down the mountain.
I drove the return trip after giving my husband first dibs on the way up the mountain. Not only was it a blast driving around on a rutted mountain road, the scenery and animals we encountered along the way were incredible.
We all slowed at one point to watch a black bear nibbling some berries on the side of the road. He wandered about while we oohed and aahed from the safety of our Jeeps and then he meandered back into the forest. We saw another bear run through the brush awhile later and even saw a few bald eagles soaring overhead.
Arriving back into Skagway felt like driving back into a major city. It was hard to imagine a few hours earlier we were at the top of a mountain, looking out over empty wilderness for as far as we could see.