Gold! Gold! Gold! In 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush drew around 100,000 prospectors, laborers and entrepreneurs to the Yukon Territories and Dawson City, Southeast Alaska and Skagway, the Yukon River and beyond, with all routes leading to potential fortunes. Some struck gold and had their lives instantly changed. But most grand dreams of gold were met with the reality of a cold and cruel northern frontier.
Today, more than 100 years after the Gold Rush, you can follow the footsteps of those prospectors in the exciting and expansive Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. In the park, you can visit the historic towns and trails, buildings, sites and mines (and saloons) that were built during the boom. And you can also see and even touch that mystical mineral they were all hunting: gold!
All national parks are unique and special, but the Klondike is especially so. This one is technically international and consists of four units: three around the Skagway area and another in Seattle, which has its own visitors center and was the starting point for many who departed northward. The park extends into Northwest Canada, which holds part of the Chilkoot Trail and the still hopping mining town of Dawson City.
As a critical port, Skagway was the epicenter of the Gold Rush and continues to be equally attractive to visitors as the Klondike park headquarters. Here there are historic buildings and artifacts, stories of homesteaders, prospectors and legends, excellent sightseeing and educational opportunities, guided hikes and tours, and more. The Gold Rush remnants at nearby Dyea offer a quieter but equally interesting ghost town experience.
Brave and strong visitors can choose to traverse or camp along some of the numerous routes that were used by the thousands during the Gold Rush. The two most popular and traversable are the Chilkoot Trail and White Pass Trail.