Monday, June 19
We arrived in Dawson City pretty early in the day. We drove to the center of the town and stopped at the Information Center.
Dawson City was originally the capital of the Yukon Territory. At the time, it was one of the most populous towns in the Yukon as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896. The First Nation settlement’s population swelled to over 40,000.
The current town has a year round population of about 1,100. In the summer, there are twice as many residents and a lot more tourists. The town is a combination of Canadian National Heritage Center and private property.
The development regulations are very restrictive. It makes for a colorful town with the flavor of a late 1800’s gold rush town. Most of the streets are dirt and the sidewalks are boardwalks.
The Dawson City Information Center contains both the town tourist information center with the staff wearing period costumes and the National Parks office with its staff wearing the park service uniforms. It offers free wifi and restrooms in addition to helpful information.
Since it was Canada’s 150 year anniversary, admission to the National Parks is free. Since there isn’t an admission fee to visit Dawson City, the park system offered a free tour for one of the many sites that were a part of the Dawson City area. The most expensive tour was the one to Dredge #4, several miles outside of town.
A free tour of the Dawson City started at 3:30, so we signed up for that one and then left to find a place to camp.
We were able to get a campsite at the Gold Rush Campground located at the edge of the downtown. The campsites are small, but the location and condition were amazing. It is well maintained and operated. Plus, they had a laundry. We really needed one at this point. They do a great job of maintaining the campground and it is within walking distance of almost all of the sights.
After settling in, we walked back to the downtown for our tour. The park service tour guide is a year round resident and really shared her love of the place.
In addition to her, we were joined by a period actor that told the story of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. It made for a fascinating tour and a real love for the area. I can’t imagine being here in the winter, but I can picture us spending several weeks here.
The town has a historic but funky, creative side.
It has several really good restaurants. We tried out Klondike Kate’s.
Great food with a focus on local cuisine. I ordered elk sausage with blueberries and Jon selected Cowboy Poutine. Both were great.
It had been a pretty long day, so we headed back to our camper for a while. We planned on going to Diamond Tooth Gerdie’s later that night. It is a non-profit casino, saloon, and dance hall. All proceeds go to the Klondike Visitors Association, which helps pay for upkeep and restoration of the town. It costs $12 for an annual membership, so you can attend as many times as you want.
They have three shows a night, each of them different. The early show is a rather tame dance hall show. The 10:00 one is more of an adult vaudeville version. The midnight show is more of a burlesque show without the gold rush town influences.
We attended the 10:00 show which was a lot of fun. We were able to get a table up front. Jon was pulled on stage by one of the six dancing girls. He and the other five guys were given skirts and a hair ribbon and taught to dance. Everyone had fun.
We were ready for bed by the time the show was over.