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Sketched June 20 and 26, 2013

Gabi_0705_Parks02All this time I’ve thought the closest national parks to Seattle were Mount Rainier, the North Cascades and the Olympics. But here’s one that is even closer: the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Pioneer Square.

Veteran park ranger Tim J. Karle said I’m not the only visitor who is surprised when stepping into the building. People expect trees and mountains, he said. Instead, they find themselves wandering through two floors of exhibits.

I’m more of an urban hiker than an outdoors explorer anyway, so I wasn’t at all disappointed. I enjoyed the 23-minute movie “Gold Fever: Rush to the Klondike” and watching Karle’s demonstration of gold panning techniques.

The park gave me a better understanding of Seattle’s history and its entrepreneurial spirit. Most stampeders who came through town on their way to the Klondike River never saw gold on their pans, said Karle, but they helped launch Seattle as the gateway to Alaska. These days, “tourism is the modern gold rush.”