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Alaskan Cruise: Historic Juneau Gold Mine Tour

I've mentioned that I am a history buff, but you might not know that I am also a former school teacher.  I love to teach (and learn)!  So every opportunity I get to teach my kids something on a trip, I go for it!  That is exactly why we booked this excursion. The current excursion name is Underground Juneau Gold. 

We had to wear hard hats as we ventured inside the 360-foot long tunnel carved into the mountainside.  It was a little chilly inside the tunnel, so be sure to wear a jacket.  I would also wear good shoes for walking on rocks.  Inside the tunnel a former miner showed us how they did things back in the day using actual mining equipment.  The mine was in use from 1913 to 1921.  Great history lesson in action!

Our experienced miner tour guide showing us how things were done.  Pretty loud, dark and cold in that tunnel with the equipment going.  Tough job for sure!

When I picture panning for gold, there is a mountain stream with crystal clear water and the perfect rock to stand on as you bend down to find glorious gold!  Well this is not how the panning for gold part of this excursion goes.  As you can see from the picture below, it was a little different then I pictured in my mind.

Not really the panning for gold I was wanting the kids to experience!  But they didn't care (or know the difference, for that matter).  They enjoyed this experience and both came away with a little gold.  The man was really kind and patient helping them figure it out.  He put their gold in little tiny bottles to take home.  Those bottles actually made it all the way back and sit in their rooms today! In reality, they most likely wouldn't have found any gold in a real stream, like I was envisioning.  So this is the only way to ensure they find it. Which for them was the best part!  One of my favorite parts of the tour was the amazing views of Alaska that we got from the mine. What a gorgeous place!

After panning for gold we looked around the gift shop, which had a few fun things to purchase, and warmed ourselves up with some hot chocolate.  As we sat outside we noticed this squirrel hanging around us.  It seemed almost tame!  One of the workers gave my daughter a peanut, told her to put it on the end of her shoe and be very still.  I was a little worried how this was going to end! But my daughter did just as the lady said, and sure enough, the squirrel came over, grabbed the peanut off my daughter's shoe and ate it.  As you can imagine, my kids thought this was the coolest thing ever!  So we did it as many times as possible before the tour ended.  I managed to capture a few of the moments on camera.

I couldn't believe how still she was waiting for the squirrel to come.

I also couldn't believe that she didn't get scared when it actually got to her.  

My only worry was that the squirrel was going to run up their legs or something like that.  But I guess that is just how Mom's worry.  It was all good and the kids loved it!

Overall, I would say this was a good experience.  If you like to learn about history and have never been inside a mine then you will most likely enjoy it.  Otherwise, I would suggest you pick another one of the 50 excursions offered in Juneau, Alaska.  Or if you like to get a feel of the place you are visiting, just explore the town.  We went back there after the tour and walked around a bit.  Most important, just enjoy life and whatever you are doing at the moment.  Happy travels!


  1. Thanks for coming to Juneau! I am glad you liked it, and it looks like you got some rare sunny weather. You mention that you "most likely wouldn't have found any gold in a real stream". Not true! You were most likely at the Alaska Juneau Mine, and taking the tour offered by the Last Chance Basin Mining Museum. The creek that you crossed is called Gold Creek for a reason! It has been mined for over 100 years and still holds oodles of gold. The old-timers were only looking for big nuggets because at the gold prices in those days, it was the only thing that was economic. All of the fine gold washed right through their sluice boxes and is still there today. I have personally extracted over an ounce of gold from the creek. Admittedly, all of the big nuggets were removed years ago, but you can still find gold!

    If you ever make it back to Juneau (and I'm still around), look me up and I'll take you out for a "real" gold mining trip! Thanks for posting the great pictures of the areas around our beautiful city.

    Alaska Department of Natural Resources - Juneau Mining Section

    1. I would love to come back and do that! Thanks for the interesting information.


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