Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Alaska and the Yukon - Dawson City, Yukon

July 12
Dawson City, Yukon

Today we woke up to overcast skies which didn’t bode well for our float trip this morning.  Luckily though by the time we got cleaned up and ate our breakfast the skies had started to clear and by the time we met up with our guide, the sun was shining.  Our float trip today would be down the Klondike River and take about three and a half hours and end up back in Dawson City.  There were seven in our group and as soon as everyone gathered we were taken by van to the start of our trip.

Val couldn't wait to get on the river as the mosquitoes were biting where she was standing.

Our guide who was very informative and did all the rowing.

It was a beautiful float down the river and while we didn’t see any bear or moose, we did see a number of different birds including quite a few bald eagles.  At the beginning of our trip we were in the forest, but as we neared Dawson City the forest thinned a bit as this area had been heavily mined by the gold dredges, which essentially dig up the river bed and leave huge piles of tailings behind.  Near the end of our trip the Klondike River flowed into the much larger Yukon River, which flowed through Dawson City. We really enjoyed our float down the river and our guide was knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, and also gave us some insight about what’s it’s like to live in an isolated place, particularly in the winter like Dawson City.  All too soon our trip ended at the Dawson City riverfront.

An eagle's nest.
And the eagles.

A beaver dam.

The piles of rocks are tailings, which were left when the gold dredges
worked the Klondike River.  This is only a small sample of the enormous amount
of tailings that were left, and surround Dawson City.

Our raft trip ended back in Dawson near the paddle wheeler we would be taking this afternoon.
We spent a couple of hours walking around Front Street, which is where most of the stores and shops are.  After browsing through the shops and making a few purchases we had some ice cream and then walked back to the hotel.

Front Street in Dawson City.  It's the only paved street in Dawson.  In fact, all the
 other streets are paved with left over tailings from the gold mining.  Because they weren't
able to extract all the gold from the tailings, Dawson City's streets are in fact paved with gold.

A look down Queen St. from Front St.  All the sidewalks in Dawson are made
with wood.  They can't use any cement for foundations or sidewalks
because the permafrost will cause it to heave and crack.

Late in the afternoon there was a Yukon River cruise on the Klondike Queen paddle wheeler, which was part of the tour so after resting at the hotel for a bit, we met with the group and made our way down to the dock.  The weather had turned cloudier as the day wore on and it was pretty overcast by the time we started our cruise.  It was pretty interesting and we did enjoy it, but our float trip in the morning was much better.

The Yukon River is huge, and is the third longest river in North America at 1,980 miles.
This is the Yukon River watershed.  It starts in the south near Skagway, Alaska and
makes it way north through Whitehorse and Dawson City before turning
west and emptying into the Berring Sea; quite a journey.
Dawson City from the river boat.

An old paddle wheeler from the gold rush days that is slowly decaying along the River.
The road ends in Dawson City and the only way to get across the Yukon River for a long ways in either direction is a small ferry.  The ferry is free as it is considered part of the highway and is available 24 hours a day.  Once you cross the river you can take the "Top of the World Highway" to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Another view of Dawson City.
An interesting looking houseboat.

After the river trip, everyone disembarks onto Front St.
By the time we finished our river cruise Val and I were both getting hungry so we decided to get some dinner at Sourdough Joe’s on Front Street.  We had an excellent dinner of seafood chowder, and halibut and chips and then returned to the hotel and called it a night.

Tomorrow we fly to Fairbanks, but our flight doesn’t leave until the afternoon so we will have a welcome leisurely morning.  We have really enjoyed our stay in Dawson City and hope to return some day.

After I finished working on the blog late in the day we heard thunder and then a real downpour.  Our first real rain of the trip.  Luckily we were inside and had no plans to go anywhere.

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