There’s Gold (and a lot more) at Nome’s AKAU Resort

North — to Alaska. Go North, the rush is on.”

~ Johnny Horton, “North to Alaska,” 1960

The great Gold Rush of Nome, Alaska ran from about 1899 – 1909, when thousands of people steamed their way to Norton Sound on the Seward Peninsula and staked their claims — when they could. Word of nuggets and flakes simply lying atop the beach sand caused a stampede that rivaled the Klondike and Fairbanks rushes of the same era. By 1900, Nome’s population had topped nearly 20,000 eager miners hoping to strike it rich. Did all of them leave wealthy, bags heavy with gold? No, but Nome City was forever put on the map, long before the other event for which it is famous. 

Most Alaska visitors, especially those cruising the Inside Passage, make a stop in Juneau or Skagway, sites for other gold rushes and one Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Good places, those, but one receives only the merest brush with true gold mining skills, and usually only through traditional panning. 

A young prospector works at one of AKAU Resort’s sluice boxes in Nome. Image courtesy AKAU Resort.

Now there’s a chance for the real deal. In an effort to continue offering young people the very best of authentic Alaska experiences, AKontheGO has partnered with AKAU Gold Resort in Nome for two sessions of Family Gold Rush Camp. The AKAU adventure will be full of gold — all kinds of it — nuggets, dust, and flakes, discovered through a plethora of ways, from sluicing to high banking and metal detecting. But there’s more, too. 

Family Gold Rush Camp at AKAU Resort will also be five days of adventure in one of the most beautiful sections of Alaska. Kids will join me for daily hikes to discover the flora and fauna of the Norton Sound region, we’ll go fishing for salmon in Nome River, motor up to the hills aboard ATVs and spy local musk ox herds roaming the grassy slopes. We’ll also visit several smaller communities along the Seward Peninsula, like Safety, Teller, and a remote fish camp where Alaska Native families have gathered for generations to net, fillet, and smoke their catch in traditional ways. We’ll even visit a reindeer farm and learn about these caribou cousins, up close. 

Exploring the hills around Nome aboard ATVs or side-by-side vehicles is offered during the AKAU Family Gold Rush Camp weeks (helmets, too) Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Crafting, leatherwork, outdoor camp cooking, campfire stories and songs by Nome’s showman mayor — AKAU Resort’s Family Gold Rush Camp is guaranteed to be unlike any other vacation you’ve ever had, and well worth the time and effort to jet from Anchorage to Nome. 

Two sessions are available: 

  • June 18 – 23, 2020 (with optional pre-trip Anchorage experience June 17) 
  • August 13-18, 2020 (with optional pre-trip Anchorage experience August 12) 

AKAU Resort headquarters, located eight miles from the town of Nome. Family Gold Rush Camp begins here! Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Who should go? Families with kids elementary-age and up (7+). Activities will be tailored to ages and abilities, but all kids and caregivers should be come with curious minds and a sense of adventure to try new things, get dirty, and find out what life was like back in the gold rush days. This is the perfect gift for a teenager graduating high school, busy tweens looking for some adrenaline-junkie activities, and any kid interested in history, wild animals, and Alaska. 

Do we need to know anything about mining? Nope, and that’s part of the fun! AKAU Resort staff are looking forward to teaching kids and caregivers the ins and outs of gold mining in Alaska. You don’t need to bring anything but yourself and your personal gear. Each guest will receive a comprehensive packing list and the chance to chat live with AKAU Resort staff (and me) prior to the trip.

What are accommodations like? AKAU Resort is not a fancy place due to its location eight miles from downtown Nome, but it is clean, comfortable, and reflects an authentic representation of rural Alaska life. Families will stay in individual cabins or “bunkhouse”- style rooms, depending upon family size and availability. A maximum of 20 guests ensures a low guest-to-staff ratio with plenty of tutelage for learning new skills. 

What about meals? We understand active youngsters get hungry, so AKAU Resort has a whole menu of kid-friendly favorites for Family Gold Rush Camp, plus snacks and drinks. We’ll also have a special outdoor campfire cookout night, when kids will pitch in to prepare and serve an authentic “Gold Rush” dinner to families. 

Hooking a big one while adventuring at AKAU Resort in Nome. Image courtesy AKAU Resort.

Interested? Give the folks at AKAU Resort a call at 760-500-1329, or email me at; or the resort at 

~ EK 




Posted in Big Adventures, Life in Alaska.