Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Experience the golden history this epic quest for fortune the 19th century.
The glacially carved valleys, streams, and stunning views that make up Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park's physical landscape provide a compelling stage for its gold rush story. Commemorating the Gold Rush of 1897-98, this 13,191-acre park encompasses a six-block historical district in the town of Skagway, the nearby ghost town of Dyea, and the famous Chilkoot and White Pass Trails.
THING TO DO
Today, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is a cruise ship favorite, making it the most popular park in Alaska with 850,000 visitors annually. The park offers a unique balance of history and outdoor adventure. The streets of Skagway are lined with dozens of historic stores, saloons, and public buildings, many of which have been restored by the National Park Service. Park Rangers lead Ranger Chats throughout the summer, and visitors can check in at the Visitor Center each morning to learn about the time and topic of that day’s chat
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center in downtown Skagway on Broadway Avenue is in the original 1898 White Pass & Yukon Route Depot and features ranger programs, a theater, and numerous displays, including an impressive replica of the ton of supplies every miner was required to carry over the Chilkoot Pass. Nearby is the park's Trail Center, providing information on permits and transportation for hiking the Chilkoot Trail.
The park also manages several museums, including Bernard Moore House, which features exhibits and furnishings depicting family life during the gold rush; Moore's Cabin, Skagway's oldest building; and the Mascot Saloon, one of the 70 saloons that was open during Skagway’s heyday. Next door to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center is the depot for the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, where visitors book passage for a spectacular tour into the mountains aboard the historic railway - one of the most popular activities in Skagway.
In the neighboring ghost town of Dyea, visitors can learn how a town once the size of Skagway disappeared in the years following the gold rush. Today, the ghost town still serves as the starting point for hikes on the famous 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, one of the most popular backpacking routes in Alaska. This scenic trail takes about 3-4 days to complete, taking hikers along the route that stampeders followed from Dyea to Lake Bennet, British Columbia.
Visitors can take self-guided walking tours of Dyea, leading past crumbling cabins, the pilings of Dyea Wharf, and Slide Cemetery, where 47 men and women were buried after perishing in an avalanche on the Chilkoot Trail in April 1898. Other outdoor activities in the area include camping, rafting, wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing.
The park commemorates the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 – 1898. When gold was discovered in 1896 in Bonanza Creek, near Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, Skagway and Dyea became the starting places for more than 40,000 gold rush stampeders making their way to Canada’s Yukon goldfields by way of the Chilkoot Trail. The miners were required to have a year’s worth of supplies, causing them to make several trips over the rugged, 33-mile trail. The actual stampede lasted only a few years, but it produced one of the most colorful periods in Alaska history.
Skagway was a lawless frontier town controlled by the villainous 'Soapy' Smith, who was finally removed from power in a gunfight with town hero Frank Reid. At the height of the gold rush, Michael J. Heney, an Irish contractor, convinced a group of English investors that he could build a railroad over the White Pass Trail to Whitehorse. Built with little more than gun powder and picks, the White Pass & Yukon Route climbs from sea level to 2,865-foot White Pass in just 20 miles, making it one the world's steepest train routes.
The downtown Skagway Historic District became a national landmark in 1962 and joined the national register in 1966. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park joined the national register in 1976, and the Chilkoot Trail became a national landmark in 1978. The park was designated as an international historical park by presidential proclamation in 1998.
FACILITIES AND CAMPING
The National Park Service operates a 22-site campground in the Dyea area at the start of the Chilkoot Trail. The site is open for both tent and RV campers. Nine developed campgrounds are located along the Chilkoot Trail for backpackers. Campground-specific permits are required for backcountry campgrounds along the Chilkoot Trail.
Skagway is 96 miles north of Juneau and reached by scheduled air service or the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries. Skagway can also be reached by road, via the South Klondike Highway. The town is 110 miles south of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, where bus service is also available.
Explore more things to do in the Skagway area.
For more information, visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park website.
Local Climate & Weather
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