Klondike Gold Rush Attractions
Few places are as associated with gold and prospecting as the Klondike region and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. When newspapers screamed out headlines of "Gold! Gold! Gold!" in the summer of 1897, the Gold Rush was on, and tens of thousands of people headed north to Alaska in search of a quick fortune in this remote region.
Today, visitors can experience the remnants of that age of hardy stampeders (Klondike Gold Rush prospectors) at attractions across the region. Here’s a list of the top 5 attractions, including some exciting Skagway, Alaska excursions. Who knows — maybe you’ll catch gold fever!
1. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Located in Skagway, Alaska, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park marks the jumping off point for Gold Rush prospectors on the long and arduous journey north. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is the perfect place to start your own quest. Stop by the Visitor’s Center in the city’s Historic District and join in a walking tour of the town. Be sure to check out the Mascot Saloon and Moore House exhibits.
2. Gold Rush Cemetery
This short hike is one of the spookier things to do in Skagway. You’ll find this gold rush cemetery just outside downtown Skagway after a walk through the woods. Here lie many stampeders and settlers who lived and died during the Gold Rush, including the grave of Soapy Smith, an infamous saloon owner, gangster, and con artist. Trail maps are available at the National Park Visitor Center and the Skagway Visitor Information Center. Reid Falls waterfall is just a short jaunt beyond the cemetery.
3. The Chilkoot Trail
This is one of the original trails into the Klondike gold fields used by stampeders and one of the more strenuous Skagway, Alaska excursions for gold rush enthusiasts. Starting 10 miles outside Skagway in Dyea, the Chilkoot Trail runs a total of 33 miles, ending in Lake Bennett, British Columbia — so be sure to bring your passport if you’re hiking all the way! This is an arduous hike that typically takes about three days, so planning and preparation are required. Check in is at the Trail Center in Skagway (trail permits are available here) and watch the bear safety video — this is bear country, after all. Shorter hikes, including day hikes, are possible.
4. Whitehorse and the S.S. Klondike
The "Wilderness City" of Whitehorse is the territorial capital of the Yukon. Running along the banks of the Yukon River, this city served as a main access point to the Klondike interior during the Rush. In addition to gold panning, museums, and spectacular scenery, it’s also home to the S.S. Klondike, a nineteenth century sternwheeler (a type of riverboat). The boat is fully restored to its Gold Rush era glory, affording visitors the chance to imagine themselves as a stampeder traveling the riverways. While in Whitehorse be sure to catch a showing of the Frantic Follies, a turn-of-the-century vaudeville review reminiscent of what the prospectors and early settlers had for entertainment.
5. Bonanza Creek and Gold Panning
Just outside Dawson City is the Discovery Claim at Bonanza Creek, the spot where it all began in 1896. At the nearby Free Claim No. 6 visitors can pan for gold, no charge. But come prepared, no instruction or equipment is on site. For a more structured panning experience (instruction and equipment provided), check out Gold Bottom Mine Tours outside of Dawson on Hunter Creek Road — their mine tour concludes with panning in a nearby creek.
As you can see there is still much remaining from the Klondike Gold Rush to be explored and experienced. Let Holland America Line transport you on your own gold seeking adventure to this wild and wonderful region onboard an Alaska cruise.