The editors of The Milepost travel guide suggest that a vacation trip to Alaska can be enhanced by focusing on a theme, such as gold rush history or glaciers. To help plan such a vacation, they have assembled some thoughts on what you might plan to see on such a journey:
Gold Rush History
Remnants of early gold rushes can be found throughout Alaska and Canada. Don’t miss Skagway, which sprang to life as the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898-99. The six-block historic district is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. Just outside Skagway, you can drive out Dyea Road to the start of the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail leading to the Klondike gold fields. You can tour the Dyea town site, once a boomtown of 8,000.
There is gold history galore at Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, 442 miles north of Skagway. You can stop by the Dawson City Museum, walk the town’s dirt streets past gold-rush-era buildings, listen to a recital of “The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” and drive out Bonanza Creek Road to see the largest wooden hull bucket-line dredge in North America.
Mining dredges were used to extract gold in Yukon and Alaska from the turn-of-the-century to the 1950s. You can find the Pedro Dredge at Chicken on the Taylor Highway, 108 miles from Dawson City, and Historic Gold Dredge No. 8, about 10 miles outside Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. You can also try panning for gold at Pedro Creek, Nome Creek and Long Creek. Dozens of other gold rush history sites can be found in The Milepost.
Alaska’s great number and variety of glaciers can be seen in various ways. You can drive to some, look at others from a boat, or get a closeup view from a helicopter.
Inside Passage travelers learn about glaciers at Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier. Depending on their itinerary, visitors arriving in Alaska by cruise ship may be rewarded with views of Malaspina, Bering and Hubbard along the coast. Glacier Bay National Park, which is a cruise ship favorite but accessible to other travelers as well, is home to 58 glaciers.
Several glaciers are easily accessible by highway: Matanuska Glacier northeast of Anchorage; Portage Glacier south of Anchorage; Worthington Glacier on the Richardson Highway, and Exit Glacier near Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Childs Glacier in Prince William Sound is more remote, requiring a ferry ride to Cordova and a 48-mile drive out the Copper River Highway.
Glacier cruises are available out of Valdez and Whittier to see the glaciers of Prince William Sound. In Seward, day cruises take visitors to see the tidewater glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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