Hikers on the trail to Gold Cord Lake in Independence Mine State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass, Alaska June 2011. The half-mile trail leads to an alpine lake above the historic gold mine near Hatcher Pass.

Getty Images/Aurora Open

Independence Mine State Historical Park

Anchorage Region

The main attraction of Hatcher Pass is 272-acre Independence Mine State Historical Park, a huge, abandoned gold mine sprawled out in an alpine valley. The 1930s facility, built by the Alaska-Pacific Mining Company (APC), was for 10 years the second-most-productive hardrock gold mine in Alaska. At its peak, in 1941, APC employed 204 workers here, blasted almost 12 miles of tunnels and recovered 34,416oz of gold, today worth almost $18 million. The mine was finally abandoned in 1955.

Today you can explore the alpine meadows and hiking trails around the mine; it's a mountainous wonderland filled with with an odd mix of alpine flowers and mine tailings. Note that it's an additional $5 per vehicle to park here.

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