Yukon Country(2)

Silently, but steadily, the fog and mist rolled off the Yukon River and down Front Street.
One could almost imagine the ghosts of 1898 lurking quietly in the shadows. This is
downtown Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, a town of approximately 1,800 hardy souls, a
mere fraction of the 30,000 who lived here shortly after one of the great gold strikes in
North American history. On August 16, 1896, gold was discovered on what’s now known as
Bonanza Creek. From then through 1912, $175 million in gold was panned from the region.
Today, Dawson City is smaller and less boisterous, but more fun and entertaining. Located
162 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Dawson City is a 330-mile detour (one way) for anyone
traveling north on the Alaska Highway. Our RV rolled easily on the modern all-weather
highway, and the drive was unruffled and uneventful. In Dawson City today, there is Diamond
Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall, which recreates in amazing realistic style, life of that
golden era. The Yukon Visitor Information Centre is housed in a replica of the 1897 Alaska
Commercial Co. store and supplies accommodation information, a schedule of daily events and
a town street map. And, of course, there’s still the magic “pull” of the gold ore. A number
of outfitters in and around Dawson City offer adventurers the opportunity to dip a pan into
the cold waters of Gold Bottom or Hunker Creek, and sluice for traces of the shiny metal —
and you keep what you find. Should you visit around the first day in July — Canada Day —
you can also participate in the Yukon Gold Panning Championship. Another gold-themed event
is Discovery Day — the Yukon’s territorial holiday, August 16-18, which celebrates the
discovery of gold in the territory. Perhaps the best time to visit is during the summer or
autumn, but an interesting winter visit can be planned in conjunction with the 1,000-mile
Yukon Quest sled-dog race that passes through Dawson City each February. Keep in mind,
however, that according to the Klondike Visitors Association, temperatures in the dead of
winter in the Yukon range from minus 80 degrees F to 32 degrees F. For more on our
“Northern Latitudes– Special Alaska Travel Section,” pick up the March 2006 issue of
MotorHome magazine on the newsstand — then subscribe to MotorHome so you can
stay informed on great travel destinations, the latest motorhome tests, previews, technical
information, products and more.

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