Panning for Gold


Exploring Chicken, Alaska – A Photo Guide

The small border town of Chicken, Alaska welcomes visitors travelling along the Top of the World Highway and the Taylor Highway.  This small town with a funny name of Chicken has a lot of charm and well worth a stop on your drive through eastern Alaska.

How did a town end up with a name like Chicken? Well in the late 1800’s early miners travelled to the area in search of Gold and food became scare but near the area of South Fork of the 40-Mile River was abundant in Ptarmigan.  The Ptarmigan, now the state bird, resembles a chicken and was the primary source of food for the miners.  In 1902, the town was to be incorporated and the name Ptarmigan was suggested but no one would agree on how to spell it so they decided on Chicken.  Make sure to stop by the Chicken Gold Camp and visit the large chicken on the hill.  While at the Gold Camp make sure to try your hand at panning for gold – we found over 55 specs of gold! For $10 you can rent a pan for 4 hours and give it a shot.  The campground brings over pay dirt directly from their active mine.

Right next to the wash plants where you can pan for gold is the Pedro Dredge that offers guided tours daily during the summer season.  There are a variety of relics from the gold rush era scattered around the dredge including dredge buckets, tractors, cabins, and some great hiking trails that you should plan to spend some time exploring while in Chicken.

Looking to stay the night? We stopped in at the Chicken Creek RV Park also known as Chicken Gold Camp & Outpost that offers pull-through sites with 24 hour power, tent sites, hotel rooms or cabins.  At the RV Park you will find the Goldpanner Gift shop willed with lots of necessities as well as fun chicken themed items.  At the Outpost is where you will find some original, homemade breakfasts, lunches and dinners which we highly suggest you try!  Their homemade food is incredible even their cookies which will just melt in your mouth.

Chicken is the perfect place to spend a day exploring the beautiful town with so much charm but be careful if you blink you might miss is as you travel along the dirt highway.

Here is our Photo Guide to Visiting Chicken, Alaska!

Visiting Discovery Claim – The Beginning of the Gold Rush Story

Discovery Claim is home to the first finding of gold in Dawson City which would spur the Klondike Gold rush in the late 1890’s.  Take a walk down the trail leading to Bonanza Creek and hear the rushing water and imagine what it was like over 100 years ago.

Two Parks Canada chairs sitting on the banks of Discovery Claim where the first gold was found that spawned the Klondike Gold Rush.

Here is our experience exploring Discovery Claim!

History of Discovery Claim & The Klondike Gold Rush

Dawson City’s name is unanimous with the Klondike Gold Rush and for good reason it is where it all began.  In mid-August 1896, an American prospector, George Carmack and his wife Kate, along with her brother Sookum Jim and their nephew Dawson Charlie were travelling through an area on the south of the Klondike River.  As they stopped to rest along the side of a stream that miners called Rabbit Creek, one of them noticed metallic glitter in the creek.  They had found gold! This would be the first piece of gold that would spawn the Klondike Gold Rush.  By the next morning – August 17 – their claims had been staked.  News of gold spread throughout the Yukon and abroad and miners and Yukon citizens alike abandoned their previous work and rushed to the Klondike.

It would not be until another year later when word of gold would reach the outside world and the true Klondike Gold Rush began.  Stampeders from around the world dropped everything they had and headed to the Yukon.

Getting to Discovery Claim

The entrance to the path at Discovery Claim where the first gold was found that spawned the Klondike Gold Rush.

Head south out of Dawson City to the Klondike Highway and head up Bonanza Creek Road. Drive for approximately 15 minutes passing the Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site and the claim will be on your left marked with clear signage.  There is a large parking lot where you can park and head out onto the trail.

The trail sign that points towards where the path goes

The trail is marked with boards that explain the history of the area as you walk towards Bonanza Creek. Explore the 1.5 km interpretive trail and learn all about Discovery Claim and the Klondike Gold Rush.


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