Carcross Visitor Reception Center, part of a complex of small buildings called the Carcross Commons, is located in town center. The Commons house local tourist-oriented businesses. The colorful crests on the fronts of these buildings are representative of First Nation clans. The Center is painted with one of the Crow Clan crests and is operated by Tourism Yukon. The small totem in front of the visitor center depicts “Welcome Man,” who was dedicated to world peace. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., from May 1 to Sept. 30; phone 867-821- 4431. The visitor center has a wealth of travel information for both Yukon and Alaska.
Elevation: 2,175 feet/663m. Climate: Average temperature in January, -4.2°F/- 20.1°C; in July, 55.4°F/13°C. Annual rainfall 11 inches, snowfall 2 to 3 feet. Driest month is April, wettest month August. Radio: 590- AM, CIKO-FM 97.5, CHON-FM 90.5, CKRW. Television: CBC, APTN.
Carcross has several gift shops, dining spots and Matthew Watson General Store. The historic Carcross post office is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 8 a.m. to noon and 1–3:45 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 10–11:45 a.m. Get a Carcross cancellation stamp. The local Isabelle Pringle library is open Monday–Thursday with varied hours. Carcross community pool is open late June through August, phone 867-821-3211.
Several totems in downtown were carved by Native carver Keith Smarch, who also runs the carving studio in Carcross.
White Pass & Yukon Route offers train service to Carcross from Skagway, with a bus return to Skagway, or you can take the bus to Carcross from Skagway and return by train to Skagway. The train runs early June to mid-September. Reservations and passports required; for details click on Bennet Scenic Journey at www.wpyr.com.
Lodging and Camping
Lodging in Carcross located in Chilkoot Cabins. The Caribou Hotel, established in 1901 and a Yukon Heritage Site, has been under renovation; current status unknown.
Camping is available at Carcross Tagish First Nation’s Carcross Campground on Airport Road near the airstrip, and 10 miles south of town at Conrad Yukon government campground. Montana Services, on the highway, has a food store, RV park, restaurant and gas.
Historic Carcross was formerly known as Caribou Crossing because of the large numbers of caribou that traversed the narrows here between Bennett and Nares lakes. In 1904, Bishop Bompas—who had established a school here for Native children in 1901—petitioned the government to change the name of the community to Carcross because of confusion in mail services due to duplicate names in Alaska, British Columbia and the Klondike. Carcross became a stopping place for gold stampeders on their way to the Klondike goldfields. It was a major stop on the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad from 1900 until 1982, when the railroad ceased through train service. In the early days, passengers and freight transferred from rail to stern-wheelers at Carcross. The partially rebuilt hull of the old stern-wheeler SS Tutshi (too-shy) makes up the SS Tutshi Memorial.
The Tustshi burned down in July 1990. A cairn beside the railroad station marks the site where construction crews laying track for the White Pass & Yukon Route from Skagway met the crew from Whitehorse. The golden spike was set in place when the last rail was laid at Carcross on July 29, 1900. The construction project had begun May 27, 1898, during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. The White Pass & Yukon Route runs a popular trip down to Skagway from Carcross. Their ticket office is located in the train depot with a gift shop area and fascinating historical displays with archival photos and large-scale maps.
Walk down to the Bennett Lake Viewing Platform on the shore of Bennett Lake. The footpath begins adjacent the post office. This scenic overlook on the Carcross water- front has picnic tables, an interpretive sign on the Klondike Gold Rush, 2 toilets and access to the beach.
Other visitor attractions include St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, built in 1902, and the little steam locomotive, Duchess. The Duchess traversed the 2.5-mile rail line (the “Taku Tram”) between Taku Landing on Tagish Lake and Scotia Bay on Atlin Lake, from 1900 to 1920. It is on display near the depot and makes a terrific photo op.
Caribou Crossing Trading Post, with its collection of wildlife mounts and other attractions, is just 2 miles north of Carcross; see Milepost S 67.2. The trading post has an RV park, sandwiches, pizza and a coffee shop with old fashioned donuts.
For mountain bikers, Carcross has become quite a destination. The Carcross Tagish First Nations has constructed singletrack bike trails on the 7,233-foot/2,205m Montana Mountain and it attracts international cyclists.