Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Canada chapter Yukon has to say about Carcross:
Long a forgotten gold-rush town, cute little Carcross, 73km south of Whitehorse, is an evocative stop. There are four trains weekly in summer from Skagway to Carcross (and vice versa) on the White Pass & Yukon Route, June to August.
These five-hour rides over White Pass access a lot of remote scenery that the shorter regular trips from Skagway to Bennett don’t cover. There are packages that include bus transport in one direction to allow Skagway-based day trips.
Some old buildings are being restored and the site on Lake Bennett is superb.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The original White Pass & Yukon Route line ran all the way to Whitehorse from Skagway, Alaska, but the restored railroad now ends at Carcross. For that reason, buses are provided as part of your rail ticket to Skagway and passengers who wish to return to Whitehorse can either come back by train or bus. We were pleased that we had the additional option of taking an early morning bus or one that departed Skagway in the afternoon at 2:00pm. This gave us the chance to stay the night in Alaska and explore the town before returning to the Yukon.
Shortly after leaving Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway, we branched off onto the Klondike Highway that leads to Carcross and on to the Pacific coast. There isn’t a great deal to see as the area is heavily forested, but we did make a brief stop to admire the striking colour of a small lake. The water was a pale sage shade, caused by silt in the water. It was very much like Lake Louise back in Alberta.
We arrived to a light drizzly rain in Carcross and as we hadn’t had time for breakfast in Whitehorse, we headed straight for the local bakery where we were told we could get some homemade treats and piping hot coffee or tea. I was glad that the bus driver had directed us to the bakery because it took us past several restored buildings. A visitor centre was recently constructed with several buildings decorated with First Nations art motifs. It’s beautiful, but doesn’t have the same charm of the original buildings.
We had three hours before our train was due to depart. It seemed like a long wait after so early a start from Whitehorse, but it did give us time to wander around the town, to admire the old houses along the shores of Bennett Lake and to walk along the footbridge to get a better view of the Carcross train station and the train bridge. The bridge spans the narrow gap once used by huge numbers of caribou to cross through the shallows between Lake Bennett and Nares Lake.
In fact, that’s how the town got its name. Carcross was formerly called Caribou Crossing, but the name was shortened in 1904 to avoid confusion with another community in British Columbia. The local Tlingit and Tagish people speak of their ancestors watching herds of caribou crossing the natural land bridge between the lakes for days in a seemingly endless migration. Artifacts have been discovered that show people hunting and fishing at this spot for at least 4500 years.
The first I’d ever heard of Carcross was when Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge visited during their trip to western Canada in 2016.