Is the Gold Dredge 8 Tour Worth It?

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When you travel to Alaska, tours provide some of the best ways to experience the region and learn more about its history and culture. They’re a little pricey, especially if you have a large family, but we have learned so much by booking tours as we travel.

The Gold Dredge 8 Tour is no exception. While we were in Fairbanks, we booked this tour to see the historic dredge and dive into the rich mining history of this community. Today, we want to share all about our experience!

About the Historic Gold Dredge 8

From 1928 to 1959, the Gold Dredge 8 operated in Fairbanks, extricating millions of ounces of gold along a 4.5-mile track in the Goldstream Valley. Today, it’s listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and the site is a U.S. Historic District.

Historic gold dredge 8 in Alaska.

About the Gold Dredge 8 Tour

The Gold Dredge 8 Tour transports visitors back in time to relive the gold rush era. Thousands of prospectors ventured to Fairbanks in hopes of striking it rich.

This tour was really informative and fun. We learned about the Alyeska pipeline, panned for gold, and went inside Gold Dredge 8.

They guarantee you’ll get gold when you pan, and you get to keep the gold you find. We got $11 worth of gold combined!

How To Get to the Gold Dredge 8 Tour

The exact address is 1803 Old Steese Hwy. N. in Fairbanks.

You’ll drive about 25-30 minutes outside of Fairbanks on the Old Steese Highway, also called Route 2.

It sits approximately 10 miles from downtown. From the north, the tour lies about 3-4 minutes south of the town of Fox, where Route 2 and Route 6 converge. The exact address is 1803 Old Steese Hwy. N. in Fairbanks.

What’s Included in the Gold Dredge 8 Tour?

This tour isn’t just a boring walk around an old place. It’s really fun, and we learned a lot from the guides and people who work there. You get to ride a train, walk in the dredge, pan for gold, and stroll through the old mining town.

A Ride on the Tanana Valley Railroad

The Gold Dredge 8 tour begins beside the Trans-Alaska pipeline, where you’ll board a train replicating the Tanana Valley Railroad. This 35-minute ride travels through the forests to the gold fields.

The open-air car, the sound of the whistle, and the hiss of the steam really make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. The conductor plays an old fiddle and recounts the early Alaskan boom times.

The Trans-Alaska pipeline with a clear blue sky in the background.

A Walk Through the Dredge

When you pull into the dredge aboard the train, you start to realize the mechanical wonder of the equipment. The tour guides encourage you to imagine it traveling across the gold fields, scooping up dirt, and panning it in search of gold.

The conveyor belt and the dredge’s legs are massive! The guides are wonderful and have so much information about what life was like during this time period.

An interior shot of Dredge 8 showing the conveyor belt that would dump tailings of dirt that already had the gold extracted from it.

A Gold Panning Experience

Alaskan miners still work in this region. So when you get to pan for gold, you’re sifting through dirt brought in from a local mine.

It’s pretty thrilling to find real Alaskan gold! After you take your findings to the Gold Dredge 8 gift shop to be weighed, you can have complimentary coffee and cookies. Then you’ll board the train for the return trip.

Keep in Mind: Want to start panning? Before you try panning for gold in Alaska, read our beginner’s guide!

A man and woman smiling at the camera while hold gold pans on the dredge 8 tour.

Access to the Main Camp and Mining Museum

During this experience, you can also stroll through the Main Camp and Mining Museum. This doesn’t require a guide.

In the museum, you learn about how they thawed the frozen ground, read individual stories of prospectors, and see ice fossils found during the gold rush era.

Is Food Available During the Gold Dredge 8 Tour?

The only food available during the Gold Dredge 8 Tour is at the gift shop. You have access to complimentary cookies, coffee, and hot chocolate.

The tour takes only two hours, so if you book the 10:30 a.m. tour, you’ll be back just in time to grab lunch in Fairbanks.

How Much Are Tickets for the Gold Dredge 8 Tour?

The Gold Dredge 8 Tour operates at 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. daily. Tickets for children aged 3-12 cost $34.95, while tickets for anyone aged 13 and over cost $54.95.

This includes all aspects of the tour — the train ride, the tour of the dredge, panning for gold, and the mining museum.

Keep in Mind: Are you looking for more things to do while in Fairbanks? We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to spend three days in Fairbanks, Alaska!

The train with people on it on its way to dredge 8.

Other Tours Offered By The Same Company

When you go online to purchase your tickets for the Gold Dredge 8 Tour, you’ll see another one available. The Riverboat Discovery Tour offers a fascinating experience where you learn about the history and culture of this region aboard a riverboat.

It includes visiting an Athabascan village, the home of an Iditarod champion, and perusing a trading post. We also did this tour and really enjoyed it.

Pro Tip: If you want to learn more about the other tour, check out “Is The Riverboat Discovery Tour Worth It?” for more details.

A man and woman standing at the rear of a paddle boat tour taking a selfie with it rolling in the water.

Is the Gold Dredge 8 Tour Worth It?

We think the Gold Dredge 8 Tour is worth the price and time. We learned a lot about the mining history and culture of this area and were amazed at the dredge itself.

Panning for gold is super fun, and even though we spent more money turning it into a souvenir fridge magnet than what it was worth, we had a great time!

Will you hop aboard the train and see the historic dredge for yourself?

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