While fishing and sight-seeing are the main reasons visitors come to Alaska, there are other outdoor opportunities that might not have been considered. Gold panning offers a great way for folks of all ages to get outdoors and helps you really get in to the history of this great state. Some may have the guts to strike out on their own, but there are many commercial operations on the road system that can help you get a taste for the chase without breaking the bank.
The Russians first discovered gold on the Kenai Peninsula in 1849. After that, Southeast Alaska had discoveries in 1870, 1871, and 1872. The Juneau area began discoveries in 1874 with the Windam Bay gold strike, then in 1880, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris had a major gold strike at Gold Creek. The gold discoveries continued north with Yakutat Beach and Lituya Bay in 1887, Circle City in 1889, and Kenai Peninsula’s Sunrise gold rush in 1895. The Hope gold strike on the south side of Turnagain Arm in started in 1896. Shortly thereafter, true masses began to rush to Alaska and the Klondike Gold Rush was in full force in 1898. Then the Nome gold rush ran from 1899-1909. Gold mining is a vital part of the Alaskan experience.
Here are some current locations that can give you a taste of that gold fever:
El Dorado Gold Mine Tour - Fairbanks
Join the Binkley family for a trip through Alaska's gold mining history at the El Dorado Gold Mine. Ride the Tanana Valley Railroad for an adventure into the gold fields of the Interior. A two-hour guided tour takes you through a permafrost tunnel where Alaska's mining history comes alive. Enjoy a walking tour of the mining camp, then meet and talk with Alaska miners as you learn about present-day prospecting methods. After a short course in gold mining, grab your own 'poke' filled with pay dirt right out of the sluice box and try your hand at panning for gold. Everyone finds gold, it's guaranteed! El Dorado Gold Mine is an exciting hands-on adventure for the whole family. Complimentary coffee and fresh homemade cookies available.
Indian Valley Mine – Indian
Located on the Seward Highway just a short 20-minute drive south of Anchorage, Indian Valley Mine & Gifts is family owned and operated and is open every day 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May 15 through September 15. The main cabin, which contains the gift shop, and the assay building at Indian Valley Mine are some of the oldest structures built on the Turnagain Arm, and are listed as a National Historic Site.
The Crow Creek Mine – Girdwood
They will teach you how to pan, sluice, and provide you with all of the equipment so you can make the most out of your visit! Everyone is guaranteed a few pieces in their practice bag, and what you find at the creek is yours to keep! If you are someone who is looking for a little more out of your first trip or have been a few times but still want more info and guidance, you can reserve a history guide/miner for the day. We also have panning a shed placed closer to our entrance where access is quicker and easier for those who cannot make it to the creek. The creek is a 3 to 5-minute walk from our gatehouse on a well-groomed gravel path. Make sure to bring sensible shoes, don’t forget the bug spray, and head to hills in search of gold!
ABC Motorhome Rental can help you get to these fun family outings and more. Visit our reservations page for more info and to book the RV that will help your gold rush dreams come true!