If you find yourself in Skagway, Alaska with a few hours to fill, consider renting a car in town (Avis has an office on 3rd Avenue) and driving into Canada. We left Skagway at 10 am and were back in town by 2 pm. The drive along the Klondike Highway is incredibly scenic. You’ll pass glacial lakes, alpine trees stunted by the harsh environment, and towering mountain peaks.
The town of Carcross (short for Caribou Crossing) is a great place to stop for lunch. Try a sandwich complete with freshly baked bread at Chilkoot Trail Authentic Sourdough Bakery. Their coconut and sunflower seed cookies were still warm from the oven and a yummy way to end lunch.
Carcross Desert is just a few minutes from town. Not actually a desert, the sand dunes are remnants of a glacial lake that date back almost 10,000 years.
Another 10 minutes of driving, and you’ll see the pullout that overlooks stunning Emerald Lake. The lake’s blue-green color is a result of sunlight reflecting off white calcium carbonate layers at the bottom. The calcium carbonate is left over from fossilized diatoms, past lake inhabitants. This is a great place to turn around and head back to Skagway.
Don’t forget to pack your passport. You will need to show it upon entry to Canada and when you return to the US.