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Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Guide [Alaska] — Skagway, White Pass Trail, and Dyea

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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802 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located in Skagway, Alaska, and commemorates an event in American history known as the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 to 1898.

This park has an abundance of things to see and do, from guided programs and ancient trails to incredible museums and remarkable visitor centers. Each year, nearly 65,000 visitors make their way to explore and discover the rich history at this Alaskan Park. 

How To Get to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Where Is Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park?

Klondike Gold Rush National Park is in Skagway, Alaska, just a 45-minute flight from Juneau, the state capital. This park comprises 4 units: 3 in Alaska and the other in Seattle.

The Alaskan units of the park stretches over 13,000 acres. It includes the historical district of Skagway, the White Pass Trail, the ghost town called Dyea, and the Chilkoot Trail. 

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Opening Hours and Seasons

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round. Depending on the season, there are varying hours at some park museums and visitor centers. Some of these sites throughout the park may experience closures for federal holidays throughout the year. 

Nearest Airports to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

The only option for flying into the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park area is to fly into the Skagway Airport (SGY). This airport is just a 3-minute drive from the park.

Skagway Airport exclusively services Alaska Seaplanes. Visitors who fly into the park area must charter an airplane from Juneau (JNU), about 45 minutes away from Skagway by plane. 

Driving to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Skagway is accessible by highway, but it can be a tricky journey involving international travel. For those wanting to drive, the Klondike Highway is the main route.

This highway connects Skagway to a town in Canada called Whitehorse. Visitors must take the Alaska-Canada Highway to complete the rest of the trip to the park. 

Taking the Train to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

There is no train service to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Taking the Ferry to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Arriving at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park by sea is popular. Alaska Marine Highway is a state-run ferry system that services the Skagway area. During the summer, ferries arrive daily; during the winter, ferries bring visitors to the park area several times a week. 

Getting Around Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

The best way to get around Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is on foot or by personal vehicle. There are several areas to park your car and explore on foot and plenty of hiking trails. The National Park Service offers printable and interactive maps to help you plan excursions. 

What To See and Do in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

From hiking a historic gold rush highway to discovering the park’s incredible history in its many museums, there’s something every visitor will enjoy seeing in this Alaskan park. Take a look at the top activities and see which items you’d like to add to your itinerary. 

Chilkoot Trail

Sunny Day on the Chilkoot
Image Credit: K. Unertl via NPS

The Chilkoot Trail started as a Tlingit trading route and transformed into a gold rush highway from 1897 to 1898. Today, the trail is a 33-mile recreational trail where visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, and camping. Over 10,000 visitors traverse this trail each year. Along the way, they can view hundreds of artifacts from gold seekers of the Klondike Gold Rush. 

Hiking

Many trails wind through the park and surrounding areas. The most well-known trail is the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, but several others, such as Devil’s Punch Bowl, Sturgill’s Landing, and Icy Lake, range from moderate to difficult.

Hiking the trails at Klondike Gold Rush National Park is a great way to sneak in a great workout while exploring the land that had such a role in history. 

Museums

Klondike Gold Rush National Park has many museums, each teaching about key past events. The park is home to more than 20 historical buildings, and 4 are museums open for visitors to explore.

The parks’ museums include the Visitor Center Museum, Moore House Museum, Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum, and Mascot Saloon Museum. Each of these museums has unique exhibits and offers different sights and amenities.

Bottom Line:

Visitors can participate in virtual tours, view artifacts, and explore the interactive exhibits that teach about the gold rush and life during the late 1800s.

Ranger Programs

Ranger Programs Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Image Credit: NPS

Ranger programs take place from May to September each year. These programs range from short discussions in various locations around the park to Junior Ranger programs, virtual programs, and museum tours. Interacting with the park rangers and exploring the park with a guide is the best way to understand the events in this historic area. 

Visitor Center

The visitor center is a great starting point for your adventures at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. This visitor center is in the historic White Pass and Yukon Route depot.

Visitors can participate in ranger presentations in the auditorium, watch the “Gold Fever: Race to the Klondike” film in the theater, and view the interactive exhibits throughout the museum.

Spending time at the visitor center is one of the best ways to understand the rich history of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. 

Best Times To Visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is an incredible park to visit, no matter what time of year you can. However, if you hope to participate in a particular activity or see something special, there are better times to plan a trip to the park than others.

Best Time To Visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park for Ideal Weather

Weather can make or break a trip, so researching the weather before planning a trip is wise. May is the best time to visit the park for ideal weather. The temperatures range from the low 40s to the upper 50s, and there aren’t as many days of precipitation during May. 

Best Time To Visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park To Avoid the Crowds

Vacationing without worrying about crowds and traffic is the ideal way to have the ultimate vacation. June is the best time to visit the park to avoid crowds. This is when tourism in Skagway is least busy throughout the year, making it a great time to visit without stressing with crowded areas.

Best Time To Visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park for Wildlife

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Image Credit: NPS

A wide variety of animals make their home in the park. From brown bears to salmon to flocks of birds, there’s always something to view at this amazing park. July is the best month to visit to watch the wildlife at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Summer months allow visitors to see many of the animals that call the park home, but July is a particularly great month to see the Chinook and pink salmon spawn in the park waters. 

Cheapest Time To Visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Saving money while traveling may seem impossible, but it is entirely possible with some research. The best time to visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park to save money is mid- to late August. Flight and accommodation rates are typically lower at this time of year, which can help save hundreds of dollars.

Annual Events in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has several regular events, such as museum tours and ranger talks that visitors love participating in.

There are no annual events that take place at this national historical park. The park’s website has plenty of information on the tour times, and the ranger-led programs’ website has plenty of information, so you don’t miss out. 

The city of Skagway does have some annual events, such as the Buckwheat International Ski Classic in March, the North Words Writers Symposium in May, the Duff’s Skagway Marathon in June, and the Klondike Road Relay in September.

Where To Stay in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

There are plenty of places to stay when visiting the park, within the boundaries and nearby. Whether you prefer staying right in the park or are seeking something in a surrounding town, there are countless options for you.

Inside the Park

The only lodging available at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is camping in the great outdoors. Several backcountry campsites and 1 front-country campsite are available. Let’s look at the campgrounds to see which may work best for your travel needs.

Canyon City Campground

Canyon City Campground
Image Credit: S. Millard via NPS

Canyon City Campground is a backcountry campground half a mile from the historic Canyon City townsite. This camping option is between miles 7 and 8 along the Chilkoot Trail and is one of the popular places to camp while staying in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

This campground has 16 ground sites with a warming shelter, food storage boxes, and a stream that flows from the Taiya River as a water source.

Bottom Line:

Many visitors hike the Canyon City Loop Trail when staying at this campground to see the artifacts from the gold rush, including the metal tram boiler. 

Dyea Campground

Dyea Campground is the only developed front country campground at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. As long as the campground is free of snow, it is open for camping.

There are 22 campsites for both vehicle and walk-in camping. There aren’t hookups for RVs, so come prepared for a more primitive experience. Amenities at Dyea Campground include fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilets, and garbage receptacles. Dyea Campground is the perfect place to retreat and reset from the busy daily grind and reconnect with the beauty of nature. 

Finnegan’s Point Campground

Finnegan’s Point Campground is the first backcountry campground on the Chilkoot Trail. This campground is located at the 5-mile mark on the trail, near the Taiya River. Amenities at this campground include warming shelters, bear boxes, outhouses, and tent platforms.

Campers enjoy staying at this campground for the stunning views of Irene Glacier, the hanging glacier across the river. Many hikers choose this campground if they begin hiking late in the day. 

Pleasant Camp

Pleasant Camp
Image Credit: S. Millard via NPS

Pleasant Camp is located near the Taiya River and got its name because it is a pleasant place to stop and rest when coming from Canyon City. This campground is the least used in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, but don’t let that deter you from pitching a tent and enjoying the scenery and ambiance.

Experienced hikers typically stay at Pleasant Camp and proceed to the Golden Stairs the following days. This campground offers 11 ground sites with a warming shelter, food storage boxes, and 1 pit-style outhouse. 

Sheep Camp

Sheep Camp is the last campground on the U.S. side of the Chilkoot Trail. This backcountry campground is a popular choice in the summer months. The National Park Service backcountry ranger station is located at Sheep Camp.

A park ranger will do a presentation each night, teaching the area’s history and updating visitors on trail conditions and hiking tips. Summer months also allow visitors to see presentations by the Chiklkoot Trail Artists in Residence, which can add a memorable touch to your stay.

Sheep Camp has 25 sites with wooden platforms, a warming shelter, a 1960s-style log cabin for warming up, bear boxes, and composting outhouses.  

Towns Near Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

There aren’t a lot of towns near Klondike National Historical Park, but there are a couple that make a good place for a base camp during your visit. Let’s look at the 2 closest towns to the park and see which will work best for your vacation needs. 

Haines, Alaska

Haines is about 20 miles from Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and makes a wonderful home away from home.

This city is 75 miles from Juneau and one of the most scenic communities of the Inside Passage. There are several types of accommodations, restaurants, and activities for visitors who want to stay near the park. 

Campgrounds, historical lodges, cabins, and bed and breakfasts are just some of the accommodations you will find. Whether you seek supreme comfort and luxury or a rustic stay in nature, Haines has it all. 

The restaurants are all locally owned and offer delicious culinary creations that can’t be found at any ordinary restaurant. From authentic cultural restaurants to wood-fired pizza joints to cafes, the hardest part of staying in Haines is narrowing down where to eat. 

Recreation abounds; Hiking, fishing, whale watching, and kayaking are some of the top adventures to enjoy, thanks to the incredible location. There are also museums and a flourishing arts community. 

With so much to see and do and plenty of options for lodging and dining, Haines is a fantastic choice for visitors who want to stay near Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. 

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway Alaska Historic Downtown
Image Credit: Larry Syverson via Flickr (license)

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located in Skagway, which makes it an ideal place to stay when visiting this park. Skagway has a rich history of the gold rush and a gorgeous setting in the mountains and near the ocean. 

In 1897, Skagway was where over 40,000 gold rush stampeders began their search for gold during the Klondike Gold Rush. Today, visitors are transported back in time to the early days of the gold rush with historic false-front store shops and restaurants, locals dressed in period costumes, restored buildings, and wooden sidewalks. This makes it a unique experience to add to your park adventures. 

From historic inns to family-owned bed and breakfasts to RV parks, accommodations are plentiful. No matter what lodging option you prefer, you are sure to find a great solution in Skagway. 

Foodies are in for a treat, as the town has many options for a delicious meal any time of the day. Old-fashioned saloons, pizza parlors, gourmet seafood restaurants, smokehouses, and authentic cultural restaurants are just a few dining options in this historic town. 

You won’t get bored as there are tours through ghost towns and cemeteries and outdoor adventures such as hiking, backpacking, train tours, museums, and live shows.

Bottom Line:

For an experience you won’t forget, consider booking a stay in Skagway when visiting Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. You can’t beat the convenience and endless opportunities for dining, lodging, and recreation in this charming town.

Where To Eat in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

There aren’t any options for dining within the boundaries of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, but several options are nearby. No matter what you crave, you can find a hunger solution within a few minutes from the park.

Klondike Doughboy

Klondike Doughboy is a top restaurant in Skagway and is near the park. This restaurant specializes in freshly made hot fry bread, just like you can get at the county fair. This restaurant is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the smells wafting from the restaurant lure customers in all day long. 

The menu at Klondike Doughboy also includes funnel cakes and donuts that can be enjoyed any time of day. Customers rave about the hot cinnamon and sugar fry bread and recommend eating it fresh.

When visiting Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, stop by Klondike Doughboy for a legendary treat that will give you that warm, cozy feeling and bring back memories of the state fair and childhood. 

Red Onion Saloon

Red Onion Saloon
Image Credit: Red Onion Saloon

Red Onion Saloon is a short walk from the visitor center at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. This is one of the top-rated restaurants in Skagway and a wonderful place to refuel after a long day of park adventures. 

The menu at Red Onion Saloon includes hot soups, fresh salads, pizzas, wraps, and sandwiches. Popular menu items include the Prospector Chili, the Lady LaVoie pizza, and the chicken bacon ranch wrap. There’s also an impressive wine and beer menu with plenty of drinks to choose from to help you unwind from the day.

Not only does Red Onion Saloon offer an incredible menu of food and drink, but it’s also a brothel museum that offers tours so that visitors can learn about the history surrounding this historic site. 

For a good time and great food, try Red Onion Saloon when visiting Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. 

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Facts

1. A New Park Established

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park was established on June 30, 1976. 

2. Original People of the Park

The original people who made their home in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park were the Tlingit and Tagish tribes. These tribes used the Chilkoot Trail as a trading post in the early days of Alaska. 

3. The Seattle Unit

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has 3 units in Alaska and 1 in Seattle. There is much more to see and do in the Alaskan units, but the Seattle unit tells the story of the Seattle side of the Klondike Gold Rush. This unit has visitor centers and informative exhibits for visitors to learn more about Seattle’s impact on the Klondike Gold Rush. 

4. National Landmark

The Chilkoot Trail was established as a national landmark in 1978. This historic trail is one of the big draws to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. 

5. Gold Rush Cemeteries

There are several gold rush cemeteries in this area of Alaska. These cemeteries offer a glimpse of the fascinating history of the gold rush era. Several graves are located within the boundaries of Klondike Gold Rush National Park, and several are accessed through the park. These cemeteries include Gold Rush Cemetery, Pioneer Cemetery, and Slide Cemetery. 

Final Thoughts

There’s so much to explore at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, with a mesmerizing story waiting for you to discover. From gold rush cemeteries to historic buildings and museums to trails with artifacts from the past, there’s something everyone will enjoy at this park.

Book your adventure to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and discover the incredible story of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 to 1898. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park?

How does free sound to you? There is no fee for entering Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. There may be fees for some of the activities offered by the park, but general admittance is free.

How long should I spend exploring Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park?

Spending 4 to 7 days exploring Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is recommended. This allows hiking some of the trails, taking in the historic sites, and participating in some ranger-led programs.

Can I bring my dog to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park?

Dogs are welcome at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park as long as owners clean up after their waste and always keep them on a leash.

Is there Wi-Fi available at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park?

Public Wi-Fi is not available at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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