Fairbanks’ Pioneer Park is an extensive outdoor complex alongside the Chena River and the birthplace of the city itself. Formerly known as Alaskaland, the 44-acre (109-hectare) park brings the state’s pioneering heritage to life through historical museums and exciting hands-on exhibits. Climb on board a 1930s riverboat, explore a hangar full of restored aircraft and learn about the gold rush that shaped the region.
Dating back to 1967 when the state celebrated its 100th birthday, Pioneer Park encapsulates Alaska’s rich cultural heritage through hands-on experiences and educational exhibits. Begin your visit to Pioneer Park with a visit to the magnificently restored sternwheeler, Riverboat Nenana. Nicknamed the Queen of the Yukon, this elegant riverboat houses the park’s visitor center and a large diorama of pioneering life on the Yukon and Tanana rivers. Pick up brochures and maps to plan your route around the park.
Find out about the gold rush that brought fortune and a wave of prospectors to the region at Mining Valley. Examine some of the equipment that was used to reach the precious metals far below the surface. Children will enjoy the antique carousel and exploring the Pioneer Park Playground, which has fun animal-themed play equipment. See a recreation of an Alaskan Native village and check out the Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts. This building dates back to the park’s inception in 1967 and hosts a changing program of art exhibitions.
Learn about a piece of American presidential history in the infamous Harding Car and head to the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum to learn about how rail enabled the mining industry of the fledgling state. This museum contains historical exhibits and restored locomotives. Jump on board an early locomotive known as Old 67 and take a lap of the park within a beautifully restored train car. Grab some lunch at the park’s on-site restaurants, which serve up seafood dishes and locally brewed beers.
Pioneer Park is located on the banks of the Chena River, a short distance west of downtown Fairbanks. The park is free to enter, however, several of the museums and other attractions charge admission fees. The park is open daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day.