Independence Mine is an abandoned gold mine within Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass. Gold was first discovered in the Willow Creek Valley in 1906 by Robert Lee Hatcher.
Today, there are a few different options to visit the mine. Whether you’re planning a trip to Alaska during summer or winter, I’m going to tell you how to visit Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass, Alaska!
Traditional Land: Dena’ina (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
- Quick Tips
- How Do You Get to Independence Mine?
- Visit Independence Mine During Summer
- Visit Independence Mine During Winter
- Weather and Safety
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Check road conditions during winter season.
- Winter access is from Independence Bowl Parking Area
- Pets must be on a leash near developed facilities.
- Please respect private property, historical structures, and artifacts found.
- Alaska law prohibits the disturbance or removal of historical material from a state park.
How Do You Get to Independence Mine?
By Car – Independence Mine is located in Hatcher Pass. It’s about a 60-mile drive north of Anchorage, which will take about 90 minutes. You can access the mine from Wasilla, Palmer, or the Willow side of Hatcher Pass Road, which is the longest route.
Road conditions to Independence Mine State Historical Park are subject to weather. Check conditions before attempting the drive between September 15 and May 30.
There are two parking lots on-site. The lower parking lot has public bathrooms available to use. The upper parking lot is available as handicap parking. Parking costs $5 USD per day.
Visit Independence Mine During Summer
There are a few ways to see Independence Mine during the summer. You can either choose to see the mine independently by walking around the different buildings and sites or you can learn more about the mine by going on a guided tour.
Keep in mind, if you want to see the inside of a few of the buildings in Independence Mine, they’re typically open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m daily in the summer from June 18 to September 30.
A great way to explore the mine is on a self-guided interpretive tour. You can start your tour from the Manager’s House which is also the Independence Mine Visitor Center and museum. Inside you’ll learn about the history of the mine and mining in the area.
After stopping by the Visitor Center, you can continue walking along the paved Hardrock Trail to the different sites while making your way all the way up to the water tunnel portal. There is an amazing panoramic view from here.
Don’t forget to stop by the Assay Office, which is now a museum, and the No. 2 Bunkhouse, which is a small gift shop with snacks available to purchase. Keep an eye out for interpretive signs along the way to continue learning about the area.
Sites to visit in Independence Mine:
- Visitor Center/Manager’s House – Inside open to visit.
- Cookhouse and Mess Hall
- Mine Office and Commissary
- Apartment House
- Interpretive Shelter
- Pipe, Sheet Metal and Electric Shops
- Mill Complex
- Mine Shops
- Water Tunnel Portal
- Mine Train
- Assay Office/Museum – Inside open to visit.
- No. 1 Bunkhouse
- Engineering Office and Warehouse
- No. 2 Bunkhouse – Small gift shop and snacks.
- Framing Shop
To learn more about these sites, check out this detailed map of Independence Mine.
Another great way to visit Independence Mine is by booking a guided tour. This is great for anyone who is interested in learning a lot more about mining in Alaska and the history of Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Salmon Berry Tours, who manages Independence Mine, offers 45-minute tours with a local tour guide. Tours start every hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours cost $15 per adult and $5 per child.
Visit Independence Mine During Winter
Independence Mine State Historical Park is open to the public year-round. Winter recreation includes sledding, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing.
During the winter months, the Visitor Center and parking lots are closed. You can access the area by parking at the Independence Bowl Parking.
Independence Bowl Winter Ski Trails
If you’re into Nordic Skiing, you’ll be excited to know that the Mat-Su Ski Club grooms about 3 miles of trails around Independence Mine. This usually start once the snow starts to fall in October. You can check here for the latest grooming conditions.
When snowshoeing around Independence Mine, you can make your own trails! Explore the area and check out some of the restored buildings.
Weather and Safety
Check the avalanche forecast in Hatcher Pass.
Check weather stations and webcams in Hatcher Pass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the road to Independence Mine open?
The road to Independence Mine is open during summer and closed to vehicles during winter. You can access the park in winter from the Independence Bowl parking lot.
Can you pan for gold at Independence Mine?
You can pan for gold in Independence Mine Historical Park with a pan and shovel only.
Why did Independence Mine close?
Gold mining came to a halt during World War II, so the mine finally closed in 1951.
Is there gold in Hatcher Pass Alaska?
There is gold in Hatcher Pass. Mining began in the Willow Creek mining district in 1906.
Is the road to independence mine paved?
The road to Independence mine is paved all the way to the mine from the Palmer and Wasilla side of Hatcher Pass Road.
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Do you have any questions on how to visit Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass? Let me know in the comments.