The first thing you need to learn about a salmon bake is that the salmon isn't actually baked: It’s roasted, in this case, over an alder wood fire. And while most salmon bakes happen in town centers, this great tour-plus-feast offers the added value of getting to savor the Alaskan flavors in a gorgeous, appetite-whetting, rainforest setting.
Stroll Through Gold Fever History
The Gold Creek Salmon Bake, a two-hour experience out of Juneau, has been running for more than 30 years, is much more than a meal: You’re dispatched from your hotel and brought to this corner of the Southeast Alaska rain forest, which has its roots in Alaskan gold-rush history. You can take a nature walk to Salmon Creek Waterfall, where you can see the namesake fish spawning (in season), and the old shaft from the historic Wagner Mine. It was near here that Joe Juneau and Richard Harris first struck gold in 1880. During this tour you can even pan for some leftover gold.
Eat, Drink and Be a Cheechako
You'll also, no doubt, smell your feast being prepared: Alaskan-caught wild salmon grilling over an open, alder wood fire. The all-you-can-eat meal—served under translucent domes, in case of soft rain—includes baked "cheechako" chicken ("cheechako" is slang for "newcomers"), Gold Rush potatoes, baked beans, wild rice pilaf, fresh salads and corn bread. Wash it down with lemonade, coffee or tea—or pay a few dollars extra for beer and wine, including some locally made ales.
Marshmallows Around the Campfire
As though blueberry cake weren't enough for dessert, you can finish off your meal with perhaps the greatest, yet simplest, delicacy of outdoor dining: roasted marshmallows, which you can prepare yourself over the crackling campfire. The lush scenery of Southeast Alaska's rain forest is another wonderful after-meal complement, along with the folk music performed by local musicians. After dessert, browse for gold panning kits and other mementos in the trading post.