After a failure with Dempster Highway we headed for Dawson City, feeling sad and disappointed.
To lift my spirits, I decided to do what I like doing the most when I visit a new city – get to the highest point possible. In Dawson, it requires zero efforts from your side – you can get there by car. In Dawson City, the highest point is the Midnight Dome Viewpoint. This place is amazing – you can see almost 360 degrees around you, Dawson City lying just below you, and a confluence of mighty Yukon and Klondike Rivers. What is interesting, the water is two rivers has different color, which is easy to see on the pictures.
I was dreaming of seeing Dawson City for many years. First, I read about it in amazing Jack London stories when I was a kid. But is felt more like a fairy tale place. Then I watched many documentaries about this place, read countless Wiki pages throughout years, and finally, I recently watched Klondike mini TV-series, that follows a story of two friends who left New York for Klondike pursuing a dream. After that, there was not a single day when I did not think about Dawson, planning my trip. And here I was, in a fairy tale land. Another dream came true in Canada!
Even before going into town, I wanted to follow steps of prospectors who came here – we went to the the Bonanza Creek – a small river where the main gold extraction took place, it was an epicenter of Klondike Gold Rush.
And it was not what I expected to see. I expected to see a tiny stream somewhere in woods. Instead, the Bonanza Creek is enormous piles of dirt and rocks, with excavators, trucks, and other equipment scavenging around for gold leftovers. It felt tired. I felt like the stream and nature around it is tired of being turned upside down for the last 120 years.
We turned back after seeing the Dredge No 4, and headed into the city. And I was right calling it a fairy tale land. Almost right. It is rather a wild west town from western movie, lost in time. Cars felt wrong there, I’d rather expect to see John Wayne or Clint Eastwood riding a horse.
And unlike tourist-trap places like Banff or Quebec City, which look old, but don’t feel authentic, Dawson City is real. There are no places decorated to look old, or to create gold rush-era atmosphere. Dawson City is really still that town. No pavement on roads, wooden sidewalks, hotels that have hosted gold prospectors. And it felt like the city is still living in gold rush mode, modern-day prospectors drive around in pick up trucks, hardware store selling gold mining tools. It felt very very real, unlike any historic place I have ever seen before.
We had a great dinner with local beer, checked in the hotel and called it a night… How to say a night… A day-night rather. Here in Dawson City, in June the sun never sets! There was still a lot of light, it did not feel even like twilight. I have never seen a white night in my life, but I always wanted to. +1 dream came true. Thank you Canada!
Day 5. Dawson City.
Next morning we were just in time for a guided tour of Dawson City (free for Parks Canada pass holders). I strongly recommend it it is really well-animated, with passionate actors and guide. The tour lets you enter historic buildings, such as bank or post office, that are closed for public.
We strolled through the town, until we reached something I really wanted to see in Dawson. As you read before, I grew up reading Jack London stories about the North, and what is special, he actually has been a part of it – he lived in Dawson City for over year, mining for gold! And his cabin still exists, it is preserved in its original state! It is under renovation now, but it was so great to see it myself, to visit small museum, see Jack London’s handwriting.
We spent the rest of the day just waking through city, experiencing its life, vising famous places. Tomorrow we will start driving back.