By Randall Roebuck
December 8, 2012
Although I grew up doing the vast majority of my hiking, camping, backpacking, canoeing, etc. in Olympic National Park, and thus have a lifetime of memories associated with that one park, it hasn't been the only park I've been to. Sequoia & Kings Canyon in California come to mind, as do North Cascades (which is closer to where I now live than ONP), and Glacier in Montana. One of my most memorable visits to any National Park, though, was the time I hiked the famous "Trail of '98" over the Chilkoot Pass ... with my dog. It was in the summer of 1977, the year the "Gold Rush Trail" became a park, and I was traveling in the Yukon in my pickup truck, with my good companion. I hadn't specifically planned to hike the Chilkoot, but when I came to Carcross in the Yukon and realized that I might not come this close to the historic trail again, I decided that I had to give it a try. I knew that the Chilkoot had become a park, and was afraid I might not be able to take my dog with me, since dogs generally are not allowed in the backcountry in National Parks (for good reasons, with which I ordinarily agreed, and still do). So before actually setting out on the trail, I checked with the head ranger, explaining my problem - my truck was parked at Carcross and I had ridden to Skagway via the White Pass Railway, with my dog traveling in the train's baggage car. If I couldn't take my dog with me over the Chilkoot, I didn't believe I could afford to kennel him and pay the rail fare again from Lake Bennett, then back to Carcross. His reply was that, since the park was so new, they hadn't "formulated a specific policy regarding pets" yet. So he simply asked that I keep my dog on a leash ("at least when you're around other people") and under control by voice at all times, then wished me a good visit. Fortunately my dog was very well-trained and well-behaved. I'm sure it would have been a memorable visit for me in any event, but being able to have my loyal mutt along certainly enhanced the experience for me. As I say, I totally understand, and normally agree with, the usual Park Service policy regarding pets in the backcountry, so I truly appreciated that there was an exception made in this one case.
At Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, you can tour the districts of Skagway and Dyea, which date to the gold rush, and hike the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail.