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Dawson City Travel Guide, Yukon

More a touristy destination in itself than a town, Dawson City is renowned for being a National Historic Site, a true replica of an authentic gold-rush town.

In the warm seasons tourists come here by the thousands to admire the remarkable preservation and restoration of the old buildings, to explore vintage watering holes, wander the boardwalks or stroll along the path following the dikes to Yukon River. It is a place that brings back the times when the gold-rush was at its peak. But walking its streets will not make you feel you are in a museum, a deserted place with no connection to the present. There are still 2,000 year-round residents, enough to keep the city alive. Judging by the beautiful buildings one might deduce that Dawson City was very prosperous once and indeed it was a thriving community of 30,000 residents making one of the biggest Canadian cities west of Winnipeg.

Things have changed dramatically when the seat of territorial government was shifted to Whitehorse, but they have not changed for the worse as even if the city stopped developing and many of its residents moved away, it has still found the strength to preserve what it had and turn into a gold-rush theme park, tourism keeping this settlement alive.

Although modern reconstructions have made inroads into the downtown area, Parks Canada has made an ongoing effort to preserve its historic homes and buildings and now Klondike National Historic Sites preserves eight blocks and sites in and around Dawson City. For tours, tickets and program information you should address to the Visitor Reception Centre. The national park service which offers daily walking tours of Dawson City while Gold City Tours offers a minibus tour of Dawson City and the Bonanza gold fields. For a tour on the water hop on the Yukon Queen II, a catamaran that carries passengers over the 173km stretch of river from Dawson City to Eagle, Alaska. If you’d rather stay around a visit to the SS Keno, Yukon riverboat resting next to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will give you a clue on how people travelled on the Yukon in the past.

Even if the whole site is alike a museum in the open air, there is still the Dawson City Museum, one of the highlights of the area. Attractive displays, video presentations and interactive explanation on the place’s history make a visit to the museum a must. You can find out about the geology and palaeontology of the area, about the history of the Native Hän peoples and of a more recent period that was the gold rush. There are plenty of exhibits demonstrating the day-to-day life of early-1900s Dawson City.

Another historic sight much visited by all those who have read Jack London's short stories and books is Jack London's Cabin and Interpretive Centre, a place where London memorabilia stir the visitor’s curiosity. London came to this area to try his luck at finding gold but it seemed that gold lied somewhere else, which is in his writings. And he probably was the person who stroke it the richest as his name is still remembered and his books appreciated. The original cabin was found in 1936, 120 km south of Dawson City and then shipped out and restored and maintained by Dick North, he can still be found at there as an interpreter.

Nights in Dawson City are full of life and entertainment possibilities the most appreciated being listening to live music. Then there’s Canada's only legal gambling casino with an authentic gold-rush décor and the original Palace Grand Theatre, a showcase for the Gaslight Follies.

With its specific charm, rich history and vibrant nightlife Dawson City is a well worth time spending destination for all those who want to dive in the gold-rush period.

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