Herb & Ginger's RV Travel Adventures travel blog

Chatanika Lodge - great place


The Gold Camp

That is quite a stove - they still use it!


Now that is an oldtimer!


Chatanika River

Old trapper's cabin


Davidson Ditch - very interesting 83 miles long/81 million gallons/day

Mt Pringle CG

On the way to Circle

Great 360 views

Emergency shelter at the Summit


On the bank of the Yukon

Circle Hot Springs - last fling!

Twisty road to Circle

The Corner in Central - be sure to stop. Tell Rick we...

An example of solifluction

Ginger reelin' them in!


"Well, when in Rome . . ."

Sorry - no cell phone or Internet past week. We are in a CG outside Fairbanks now with slow Internet. Will try to post pics tomorrow when we move into town for a day to do laundry, etc. Then it will be off exploring again out to Manley Hot Springs. LIFE IS GOOD!


Overcast and spotty sprinkles this AM. I fueled up, came back and we hooked up. We drove up the Steese Hwy past Dredge 8 and Silver Gulch Brewery then headed toward Circle MP 161 – the thriving metropolis (pop 108) on the Yukon River. Circle was the largest gold mining town on the Yukon River before the great Klondike strike in the Yukon that created Dawson City. Our destination for today: a BLM CG at Mile 60. We stopped at the Chatanika Lodge. What a hoot! You have to see the inside of this place. It is one of those special places. The original burned down so it is not that old but it sure is a classic AK roadhouse! We hadn’t planned on having lunch there but it just happened. Our waitress was great and she is a wealth of info on the area. The food was very good. Right across the road is what remains of the 2nd largest stacker gold dredge in AK. It was in use from the 1920s to 1962.

Since we were in the area, and it was open (sort of), we drove up to the Chatanika Gold Camp (Old Fairbanks Exploration Co Camp built in 1925). We met two of the owners. We had an interesting visit with them and got a tour of the main bldg (the dining hall). The miners working the gold dredge were housed and fed here. They have dozens of mining artifacts and photos from back in the day. The father of the lady we spoke with worked as a cook in this camp. From here to the Yukon River was the richest gold producing area of AK. The F.E. Co. removed $70 million in gold during its run from 1926-1957. The Ft Knox Mine, off from this road, currently produces the most gold of any in the state (3.5 million ounces to date).

The Steese provides access to and, indeed, is within part of the vast White Mountain Wilderness area. It is a land of great geological and landscape diversity from the popular fishing and rafting rivers through the spruce to the tops of the alpine mountains, covered in rock, mosses and lichens (some of which are hundreds of years old). Eagle Summit is very cool (figuratively and literally).

We did some touring Monday then drove up and up to the Nome Creek Valley gold area. There are two primitive campgrounds up there but DO NOT take your big rig. We (mostly Ginger) panned in Nome Creek – no color. We ran into a gentleman who had made our lunch the day before at the roadhouse. Life is full of little surprises. I fought the skeeters and grilled steaks for dinner. On Tuesday we headed northeast to Circle. The pavement ends at MP 82 and it is 100 miles of dusty gravel to Circle City. It’s not the Dempster Terry but it WAS dusty and Ginger is not happy as the inside of the trailer is covered in fine dust! But – we are here, parked on the bank of the great 2,000 mile long Yukon River. Circle City was once the largest town anywhere around, thanks to the gold strike and all the mining. And it all happened in 3 years! It was actually known as the “Paris of Alaska”! Now it is just hanging on. There is a small store, a church, a post office and a hotel that was being built but was never finished and is now being torn down. Gold mining still goes on near Circle, we passed several mining operations on the way here.

We had a quiet night, sleeping on (OK, next to) the River. We headed west in the morning and stopped again at The Corner in Central (we bought gas there on the way out). Had a chat with Rick, the owner, and a gentleman gold miner at the bar. We wanted to go to Circle Hot Springs but knew that it had been closed for a number of years. Fate intervened again! We met the caretakers of the Hot Springs!! They invited us to the Springs for a soak. The place is in REALLY bad shape, the buildings are falling in. But the 139 degree water still comes out of the ground. It is for sale – $1.2M. The old gal that owns it turned down 1 million a few years back – big mistake. We enjoyed the soak and a nice visit with the caretakers. We reciprocated with a small jug of VT maple syrup. Upon parting they invited us back any time. It is people, places and things like this that make our journeys so enjoyable and memorable. We stopped at The Corner on the way back and had a tasty lunch. The 70 miles back to the BLM CG went faster than on the way out. When we arrived there we were greeted by a million of the mosquitoes’ offspring. Well, that is an exaggeration, there were probably only about 200,000. And, yup, more dust on the way back! Oh Boy!


Today was all about fly fishing for grayling. Arctic Grayling is probably the most common game fish in Alaska. It is much like a brook trout. We fished the Chatanika River and a pond down the road. I hate to admit it (actually I don’t) but Ginger kicked my butt. She caught WAY more than I did. We kept the two largest and are eating HER fish today. One more thing off the mental bucket list though I would like to fish for more soon. Salmon fishing comes later this month.

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