A gold rush town in Alaska
Photo Credit: ATIA, Reinhard Pantke

Relive Alaska's Gold Rush History

Explore Alaska's Gold Rush History

Indulge your fascination in Gold Rush history with this four-day tour starting in Juneau, Alaska, a town that was itself founded on the promise of gold. From there you’ll follow a route similar to the one Gold Rush stampeders took, traveling north to Skagway and Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Day 1: Juneau

Begin your trip in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. You can get here via Alaska state ferry, cruise ship, or jet service. The city of Juneau was built on the prospect of gold in 1880, and prospectors Richard Harris and Joe Juneau helped jump-start the gold fever that inspired so many miners to flock from around the world to Alaska.

Juneau’s history comes alive at the Alaska State Museum, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and the Last Chance Mining Museum. Artifacts on display at all three depict the city’s history in mining, the journey toward statehood, and the region’s deep roots in Alaska Native culture. The Juneau-Douglas City Museum and Alaska State Museum are both located in downtown Juneau. The Last Chance Mining Museum is a short drive from town or a 45-minute scenic stroll, located in a building associated with the original Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Co., which operated from 1912 to 1944.

Day 2: Skagway

Take the ferry or a regional flight to the small town of Skagway, further north along the Inside Passage. Beginning in 1887, Skagway and the nearby town of Dyea were the jumping-off points for more than 40,000 gold-rush stampeders taking the overland Chilkoot Trail or White Pass routes to the Klondike gold fields. That trail is now a popular backpacking trip that draws hikers from all over the world.

Today, Skagway is home to the most visited national park in the state, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Bring your camera and stroll the park’s wide boardwalks among historical storefronts, visit local museums, take a self-guided tour of the Skagway Historic District, explore local hiking trails, tour the Dyea townsite, or hike the Chilkoot Trail. (Located at the start of the Chilkoot Trail, Dyea was once home to thousands. When the White Pass and Yukon Railroad chose Skagway as the start of its route, Dyea became a ghost town.)

Day 3: Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Continue your exploration of Alaska’s Gold Rush history at the Trail of ‘98 Museum and Gold Rush Cemetery in Skagway, or try your hand at gold panning through an organized tour. Another popular tour is aboard the historic trains of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, which take you up to the White Pass summit and, if you remembered to bring your passport, into the Yukon Territory. This rail route was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush and is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. A one-way train excursion to the Yukon Territory’s capital of Whitehorse includes a narrated 68-mile train ride to the Yukon Territory city of Carcross, where you’ll board a motorcoach connection to Whitehorse.

Day 4: Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Whitehorse was established as a trans-shipment point during the Klondike Gold Rush and features a number of historical attractions for learning more about its vibrant past. The capital city of the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse also boasts an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities and is the traditional territory of two First Nations peoples: the Kwanlin Dun and the Ta’an Kwach’an. When you’re ready, hop back on a motorcoach bound for Skagway or fly home from Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.


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