This Dyea Townsite Self-Guided Walking Tour was put together by Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Take the Klondike Highway out of town until you see the sign for Dyea. Take a left onto the Dyea road and travel 9 miles to the Dyea area. Drive over the bridge and take your first left, following signs to Dyea Historic Site. Take two left turns to arrive in the parking area.

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Walking Tour Points

The park­ing lot area at the Nel­son Slough, once filled with up to 8,000 res­i­dents, the gold rush-era town of Dyea is most­ly gone now. Only a few ruins remain — mak­ing the town all the more allur­ing as you search for its rem­nants. Fol­low the signs and use this map to guide you on your tour today. The com­plete tour is 8/​10ths of a mile. 

The wet area beneath the bridge is a slough filled with water dur­ing the high tides and rainy peri­ods. Dur­ing the gold rush, this was the west branch of the Taiya Riv­er. In the last ice age, this val­ley was cov­ered by a glac­i­er over 4,000 feet thick. One major effect the for­mer ice mass has on the area today is known as iso­sta­t­ic or glacial rebound. The land is ris­ing or rebound­ing in response to the removal of the weight of the glac­i­er. The…  ...more

Look for a small path on the right lead­ing through the trees for the well hid­den ruins of a row­boat. This boat may have been left dur­ing the gold rush when high tide reached near­ly this far. 

This ware­house was used to hold stam­ped­ers’ ton of goods.” All stam­ped­ers were required to bring a year’s sup­ply of pro­vi­sions to enter Cana­da; this ensured that they had what they need­ed to sur­vive the harsh win­ter on the trail. Of course, this slowed down their jour­neys — but saved many of their lives. Being so close to the high-tide mark, this build­ing was built on pil­ings. When you are sur­round­ed by large trees and the water is a mile…  ...more

Fol­low the sign to the false front and con­tin­ue until you notice the tree­less mead­ow. The low­er ele­va­tion is the result of the con­stant­ly mov­ing Taiya Riv­er, which has washed away all traces of the town. For more than 50 years the riv­er has remained in one chan­nel on the far side of the val­ley, so veg­e­ta­tion is begin­ning to grow in this mead­ow. Gulls, ravens, bald eagles, red squir­rels, wild­flow­ers, mush­rooms, moss­es, liv­er­worts, lichens and…  ...more

As you walk through the woods, you’ll see numer­ous holes in the ground. What do you think they are? They could be priv­ies (out­hous­es) or root cel­lars. Since this gold rush was so short lived, some peo­ple took their build­ings with them when they left. Oth­er build­ings were demol­ished and the lum­ber sold, and the few remain­ing build­ings were lat­er used by home­stead­ers until they col­lapsed. This explains why there is lit­tle vis­i­ble evi­dence that…  ...more

Even though the trees here are very large, this was a grass­land dur­ing the gold rush. At that time, this area was too close to the water for a for­est to estab­lish itself. This for­est is not yet mature. Look­ing around, you’ll see Sit­ka spruce, hem­lock, cot­ton­wood, and lodge­pole pine, but, when this for­est reach­es matu­ri­ty, the dom­i­nant tree will be the shade-tol­er­ant west­ern hem­lock. This series of chang­ing plant life is called succession.   ...more

As you look at the only stand­ing” struc­ture left in Dyea, you are on what was known as Main Street. The stumps in front of the build­ing were trees plant­ed dur­ing the gold rush. Most peo­ple who set­tled in Dyea thought they were here to stay, so they named streets, plant­ed trees and built homes. They were sur­prised when the rush” end­ed so ear­ly, and the boom town became a ghost town. 

Behind the false front is a rec­tan­gle of large spruce trees that were plant­ed between 1910 and 1922 — prob­a­bly as a wind­break for one of the three farms in Dyea at that time. 

Turn left from the stairs and walk down the trail. Imag­ine Dyea as a bustling place with 150 busi­ness­es and up to 8,000 peo­ple. If things had been dif­fer­ent, what might Dyea look like today?