Alaska-Gastineau Mill and Gold Mine Tour is located at Mill Street in Juneau, Alaska. It is approximately 11 miles from Juneau International Airport. The tours take around three and a quarter hours and are often arranged by cruise companies such as Princess Tours. It is recommended that visitors bring warm clothing as part of the tour takes them underground, where it can get very chilly even in the summer.
The tours takes visitors around part of Juneau's mining heritage and what was once the largest gold producing mill in the world. Alaska Gastineau Mill was a revolutionary plant built in 1913 and was a leader in the mining industry in terms of the new technology that was introduced here. The mine site is located in the southern half of town, but buses pick up visitors at the state museum downtown and at the Mt. Roberts Tram based in South Franklin Street.
Following the short ride to the site of the mill ruins, visitors make their way through the rain forest and up Mount Roberts. Here there is a display of old mining equipment and the guide provides explanations of the different mining methods that were used here. Guests are then provided with hard hats before walking along a boardwalk into a 360-foot long tunnel, where experienced miners demonstrate hard rock mining techniques while giving an idea of the mining lifestyle.
Back at the mill site another brief demonstration is provided by the guides with very detailed explanations. Visitors are then invited to pan for gold from the tailings of the mine and pay dirt is guaranteed with the promise that guests can keep what they have found. The tour ends with a chance to walk around and look at the various displays as well as the ruins and the gift shop, where complimentary coffee and hot chocolate is served.
The tour is quite long and intense and perhaps not recommended for young children or people with very little interest in mining or mechanical items. On returning to the town the tour bus driver provides passengers with more information, and in particular what the mining industry's current role in Juneau is. Although tour companies provide the buses and sell the tickets, the tour is the work of people who came to Juneau to reopen the mine and ended up turning it into a tourist attraction when their initial project failed.
Other attractions in Juneau include the Alaskan Brewing Company in Shaune Drive, where visitors can take free tours of the site, which are offered seven days of the week and they can sample some excellent beers. There are many places to stay in Juneau as well including Silverbow Inn, Juneau International Hostel, Alaska's Capital Inn Bed and Breakfast all of which are within two and a half kilometers of the mine. There are a number of eateries nearby too including Twisted Fish Co Alaskan Grill, Tracy's King Crab Shack and Island Pub.