fun things to do with kids in dawson city yukon territory canada   Travel for Kids
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Dawson City

Dawson City

It's well worth a trip to Dawson City for kids to experience a real frontier town with dirt streets and wooden boardwalks. The Klondike Valley was a favorite fishing spot of local First Nations tribes, until August 1896 when large gold nuggets were discovered in Bonanza Creek.  By 1897, news reached the outside world, about 30,000 people came to prospect for gold, and overnight Dawson became a bustling city on the banks of the Yukon and Klondike rivers.

During the gold rush years,  the North West Mounted Police kept a strong hand on the city - handguns were not allowed, and people who broke the law were asked to leave town.  The gold rush was pretty much over by 1900, but Dawson City remained the capital of  the Yukon until 1952.

Dawson City Klondike Gold Rush Photo Album
   

When you arrive in Dawson City today, first go down to the river walk along Front St.  Stand on the grass-covered levee and look left at the Yukon River up stream.  Kids can imagine thousands of rickety rafts, large scows, dugout canoes, even logs just tied together, filled with people and tons of supplies, coming to Dawson during the gold rush.  Look to your right at the Yukon River down stream, flowing for more than a thousand miles before it reaches the Bering Sea.

     

Tip:  There are picnic tables along the river walk - bring your lunch if the weather is nice.

Dawson City Museum
 

Dawson City Museum – This museum is a perfect introduction to the gold rush era in Dawson, with a recreation of a miner's cabin, bank, hotel and general store, plus info about tools needed for gold mining, staking and working a claim. Watch daily demonstrations of sluice box techniques.

      In a separate building are three steam locomotives of the Klondike Mines Railway that carried supplies from Dawson to the gold fields outside of town.
    Dawson City pool – Next door to the City Museum is an indoor swimming pool.  In summer, public swim hours are in the early afternoon and evening Monday - Friday, afternoons on Saturday and Sunday.
Jack London Cabin
 

Jack London Cabin and Interpretive Centre –  This is a log cabin where Jack London lived during his stay in the Klondike from 1987-1898 (the cabin was moved from its original location to here in Dawson).   

   

Poke your nose inside the cabin to see the typical one room living quarters of a miner.  Next to the cabin is a food storage cache on stilts.  In the interpretive center, check out Jack London's mining claim (he didn't get rich from gold, but he did with his writings, such as The Call of the Wild and White Fang).

   

Yukon River cruise – Paddlewheelers brought supplies and cargo to and from Dawson and were a primary source of contact with the "outside" world. Now you can go for a two hour cruise on the Yukon River in a completely modern paddlewheeler, Klondike Spirit.  Get your tickets at the Triple J Hotel in town or call 1.800.764.3555.

   

Pan for gold – For guaranteed gold panning, GoldBottom Mine Tours will provide everything you need and show you how to use a gold pan. GoldBottom has two places to pan for gold - in town next to Dawson Trading Post, or on a creek outside of town at GoldBottom on the Klondike Highway.

   

Drive to the top of Midnight Dome - Drive up to top of Midnight Dome for spectacular panoramic views of the Yukon River and the Klondike Valley. (The turnoff for the Midnight Dome Road is just outside of town as you're going down the Klondike Highway.)

    Gold Fields – Bonanza Creek Rd. –
      To visit these the gold rush sites on Bonanza Creek Rd., you'll need a car, and the road as far as Claim # 6 is gravel.
Dredge No. 4
    Dredge No. 4 – As you drive down Bonanza Creek Rd., there are heaps of gravel, called tailings, all piled up.  After the initial gold rush, big corporations brought in steam-powered dredges to scoop up the sand and gravel in huge quantities, extract the gold, and spew out the tailings.  Take a tour of Dredge No. 4, eight stories high and big as a football field, including a 10 minute video.  For the tour schedule (daily in summer), check in at the Dawson Visitor Center in town.
      Discovery Claim – Here's where George Carmack staked his claim on Bonanza Creek in August, 1896, and started the Klondike gold rush.  Within days, every section of this creek was taken (each claim was 500 feet wide). Next to the historical marker are trails to explore which lead to the creek, and picnic tables. 
      Pan for gold at Claim #6 –The Klondike Visitor's Association has a  free gold claim along the creek at Claim #6, where you can pan for gold. Any gold you find, you can keep. May to September.
     

Buy plastic gold pans at Dawson Trading Post in town. (Don't get the metal ones which have an oily coating.  The coating keeps the metal pans from rusting, but you'd need to remove the coating before you could use the pans in the water.)

     

There's a picnic table by the creek, so bring your lunch. 

kids books dawson city yukon klondike gold rush
     
Crazy for Gold kids history klondike gold rush dawson city yukon  
Crazy for Gold
Frieda Wishinsky

Whisked back in time to 1898, Emily and Matt land at the bottom of the Chilkoot Pass, where they join up with a family going to Dawson City, climb up over the snowy summit, sail a boat through the rapids, and unexpectedly find gold.  (Easy reader)

 

     
Jason's Gold
Will Hobbs

In 1897, young Jason Hawthorn follows his brothers into the Klondike goldfields, carrying a thousand pound pack over the Chilkoot pass, and canoeing down the Yukon River. Nearly trampled by a moose, Jason is rescued by an old prospector, but will he survive the subarctic winter? (Chapter book)

And Jason's next adventure: Down the Yukon

 

 
Jason's Gold adventure kids dawson city
     
Gold Rush Fever kids books klondike gold rush dawson city  
Gold Rush Fever
Barbara Greenwood, Heather Collins

Thirteen-year-old Tim and his brother come to strike it rich in the Yukon, climbing over the treacherous Chilkoot Pass, and boating down the Yukon River to Dawson City. Tim’s story is accompanied by historical information and photos, plus activities to do – make sourdough biscuits, carry a backpack, tie knots to load a mule, play solitaire to prevent cabin fever. (Illustrated chapter book)

 

     
The Gold Rush Kid
Mary Waldorf

Billy and his sister Edna Rose set out on foot to follow their Pa over the Chilkoot Pass to the gold fields.  It's an action packed adventure with near drowning in the Dyea River, digging for gold in frozen ground, falling through the ice with a dog team.  When Billy returns to Skagway, he finds himself in the midst of Soapy Smith's corrupt dealings in town.  (Chapter book)

 

 
childrens books klondik gold rush dawson city yukon The Gold Rush Kid
     
The Klondike Cat kids books dawson city yukon gold rush  
The Klondike Cat
Julie Lawson, Paul Mombourquette

When Noah's dad sets out for the Klondike, Noah can't leave his cat, Shadow, behind.  Noah carries Shadow over the Chilkoot Pass in his backpack, but when they arrive in Dawson City, what's he going to do with her kittens?  Noah has an idea that worth its weight in gold.  (Picture book)

 

More children's books on other Yukon pages
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