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.
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
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.