Our next stop was Juneau where we hopped on a tour bus to go gold panning! Our tour guide entertained us with lots of Alaska puns as we made our way to the panning location.
Once we stopped, he taught everyone to pan for gold using dirt that had been collected from another location earlier that morning (apparently, you won’t get much in the way of gold if you just pan from the river). Everyone had so much fun reducing their pan of dirt to a few precious flakes of gold. The tour guide even showed us how to bottle our gold with a little genuine Alaskan silt for a really fun, home-made souvenir. The kids were so proud of themselves and kept asking “how much do you think it’s worth?” As our guide said, “we all got RICH…with memories!”
After our panning session was done, our guide took us to the salmon bake. While there, we enjoyed an all-we-could-eat buffet of fresh-baking salmon, tasty clam chowder, salmon Caesar salad, and blueberry cake! Everyone ate their fill while we listened to a local musician play her take on some classic tunes, changing the words to fit our experience there in Juneau.
After eating, we had time to explore a beautiful waterfall just a little ways from the picnic area. Everyone enjoyed the sound of the water, but they all got a little chilled by the cool mist that came off of it. As we watched, we were surprised to find spawning salmon swimming against the river flow near the waterfall – be sure to look for them in our video!
All in all, we had a very fun and relaxing time experiencing some Alaska history first-hand! I would definitely encourage anyone to go on the tour, especially families with kids, as I’m sure our kids will be talking about their GOLD for quite a while.