Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, the quaint and historic village of Hope is less than a two-hour drive from Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, yet a world away.
The community is made up of log cabins, gold rush-era relics and 148 friendly residents who have the time to stop and tell you where to find the best stream to cast for rainbow and pan for gold.
Hope enjoyed its heyday long before Anchorage was even founded. When the news of the discovery of gold in Six Mile Creek in 1895 reached Seattle it set off one of Alaska’s first gold rushes and within a year more than 3,000 stampeders were headed for this slice of the Kenai Peninsula. The community was soon a thriving commercial center with stores, hotels, social halls, community councils, post offices and saloons. Hope’s heyday was short-lived. By 1898, news of the famous Klondike Gold Rush in Canada’s Yukon had spread and most miners in Hope packed up for the Klondike. Among the original buildings still in use is the Hope Social Hall, which was built in 1902.
Things to do
Hope is a great place to base your outdoor adventures in the adjacent Chugach National Forest, with plenty of accommodations, restaurants and services. The community sits at the north end of the Resurrection Pass Trail, a 39-mile route that was originally carved by prospectors on their way to the goldfields of Hope. Today it is one of the most popular trails for backpackers and mountain bikers. Public-use cabins are scattered along its length for multi-day hikes. White-water rafting on Six Mile Creek is also popular. The creek offers some of the wildest water on the Kenai Peninsula, including stretches of Class V rapids.
For those interested in getting in touch with Hope’s past, the Chugach National Forest provides recreational gold panning at a 20-acre public claim that has been set aside near the Resurrection Pass trailhead for mining. No permits are needed and during the summer there usually are a few seasoned miners around who don't mind showing newcomers how to swirl the pan.
Much of Hope’s history can be enjoyed at the Hope-Sunrise Mining Museum, a log cabin in the heart of town, or visitors can skip the history and try to pan a little gold themselves.