Originally published February 2020. Update, Oct. 2020: This attraction is open three days a week. See below:
Washington’s smallest national park site is big on stories from an exciting moment in history.
The Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is housed in a former hotel that once housed people preparing to seek their fortunes in the Yukon. And it is a great place to learn about the events in the backdrop of Jack London’s “Call of the Wild,” and how it transformed Seattle.
If you stop by with your kids, here are some things to do:
Follow a story. The exhibits highlight the tales of individual men and women who went to the Klondike, and what became of them. For example, Henry Daum, a German immigrant, started out working a claim, but ended up making his fortune by growing cabbages on an island in the Yukon River.
Appreciate the journey. Just making it to the gold fields was a huge achievement. The museum gives details of the stampeders’ journey: how thousands trekked up the steep snowy Chilcoot Pass while hauling a year’s worth of supplies, only to arrive at Lake Bennett and have to cut down trees to build a boat in order to make the river journey north.
Imagine the scene. The museum has life-size replicas of a miner’s cabin, the sleds people hauled up Chilcoot Pass, and some of the equipment people miners used to painstakingly sort gold out of the Yukon Dirt.
Spin the wheel. Most who staked claims didn’t find any gold, and of those who did find it, very few found enough to become rich. At the museum, you can test the odds by spinning a wheel, and seeing if you come up lucky. Could be you should take up cabbage farming.
Find out what your weight in gold is worth. In the exhibit is a scale you can stand on, and find out how much your weight in gold is worth at today’s market rate.
Get a Junior Ranger Badge. Your child can ask for a booklet at the front desk, fill out the activities in it, and get a National Parks Service Junior Ranger Badge.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is at 319 Second Ave. S. As part of a phased reopening (Oct. 2020), the Visitor Center and Museum will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The auditorium, restrooms and bookstore remain closed. Admission is free.
More reopening attractions: