Wide Open Spaces
Wide Open Spaces
Wide Open Spaces
Wide Open Spaces
Experience the Energy of Alaska
Experience the Energy of Alaska
Cultural Connections Await
Cultural Connections Await
Cultural Connections Await
Cultural Connections Await
Cultural Connections Await
Cultural Connections Await
Cruise the great rivers of the Last Frontier

Your three-hour tour will take you into the heart of Alaska and introduce you to a family who has made the rivers of Alaska their way of life for five generations.

A family business

The Binkley family’s steamboating tradition goes back over 100 years and five generations. In 1898, when Charles M. Binkley hiked over the Chilkoot Pass with other stampeders, he was not so much in search of gold as he was the chance to build and operate boats on the Yukon and its tributaries. He became a respected pilot and boat builder in the North. His son, Captain Jim Binkley, Sr., followed in his father’s footsteps and piloted freight vessels on the Yukon and Tanana Rivers in the 1940's.

As transportation systems changed in the north, railroads and airplanes began to carry much of the freight. In 1950, noting the coming changes in the freighting business, Captain Jim and his wife, Mary, began a river excursion business focusing on sharing their love of Alaska and its culture with visitors. Over the coming years, Captain Jim and Mary B’s business grew from the Godspeed, a 25 passenger vessel, to the Discovery III, a 900 passenger vessel. Today, Captain Jim’s grandchildren run the company and Mary B is still active in the business.

In addition to growing their sternwheel business, the Binkley’s have added a gold mining attraction: Gold Dredge 8. The family has developed a tour in the heart of the gold fields where the first gold strikes attracted miners from the Klondike. They have incorporated large scale industrial mining and the smaller 'Mom and Pop' side of mining into an all-encompassing tour that also features the Trans Alaska Pipeline and a replica of the Tanana Valley Railroad.

Our Story
Recommended and environmentally friendly
Check out our other experiences
Strike it rich — guaranteed! Join the Binkley family for a trip through Alaska’s gold mining history at Gold Dredge 8.
Sustainable, wild-caught salmon from the Southeast Alaskan ocean waters; filleted, smoked and packaged to be enjoyed around the world.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do both the Riverboat Discovery and Gold Dredge 8 tours in one day?

Yes, our tours are designed so you can do both tours in one day. However, please note that these tours are not at the same location.

Are reservations required?

Although reservations are not required, they are highly recommended. We recommend making reservations as soon as you know the date you would like to go on our tours.

What time should I arrive for my tour?

We recommend arriving at the Riverboat Discovery at least 30 minutes prior to departure time. When you arrive at the Riverboat Discovery you will need to check in at our ticket counter to pick up your boarding passes.

We recommend arriving at Gold Dredge 8 at least 15 minutes prior to departure time. When you arrive at Gold Dredge 8 you will need to check in at our train station in the parking lot to pick up your boarding passes.

How do I get to your location?

The Riverboat Discovery is located a few miles from Fairbanks International Airport. Take Airport Way West towards the airport; take a right onto Dale Road; continue about 1/2 mile and take a right onto Discovery Drive; we are located at the end of Discovery Drive.

Gold Dredge 8 is located about 25 minutes outside of Fairbanks on the Old Steese Highway. Take the Steese Highway (Route 2) North; take a left onto Goldstream Road; take a left onto Old Steese Highway (the first cross-road); our entrance is the first driveway on the right.

How long should I allow to get to each location?

The Riverboat Discovery is roughly 7 miles from downtown Fairbanks. We recommend allowing 20 minutes to get from downtown Fairbanks to the Riverboat Discovery.

Gold Dredge 8 is roughly 10 miles from downtown Fairbanks. We recommend allowing 25 minutes to get from downtown Fairbanks to Gold Dredge 8.

What address do I enter in my GPS to get to your location?

Riverboat Discovery: 1975 Discovery Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99709

Gold Dredge 8: 1803 Old Steese Highway North, Fairbanks, AK 99712

I don’t have a car. What is the best way to get to the Riverboat Discovery and/or Gold Dredge 8?

We recommend renting a car while in Fairbanks so you can explore the beauty of our widespread community. Many local hotels offer shuttles to the Riverboat Discovery. We recommend checking with the front desk at your hotel for the best transportation option to the Riverboat Discovery. Many of our Riverboat Discovery guests arrive via taxi or shuttle. We do not recommend taking a taxi to our Gold Dredge 8 location. It is outside of town and a taxi would be quite expensive. We recommend either renting a car or checking into a shuttle service such as Go North (907-452-9999) or Airlink (907-452-3337).

What should I bring on my tour?

We recommend bringing a camera and a light jacket.

What should I wear on my tour?

We always suggest wearing layers. A portion of our tours at both locations are outdoors where you are exposed to the elements. Our boats at the Riverboat Discovery have heated/air-conditioned decks for your comfort. The train at Gold Dredge 8 is open air and has a roof.

Is the tour ever cancelled due to the weather?

In our 70+ year history, we have never cancelled a tour due to the weather. If it is sprinkling rain, we provide ponchos, seat cushions and umbrellas for our guests at both locations. If it is pouring rain at the Riverboat Discovery, we will bring the village tour onto the boat.

Will I see wildlife?

You will see reindeer as part of the tour at the Riverboat Discovery.

Will there be a Bush Pilot Demonstration Today?

We strive to have every part of the tour available each day, however several weather factors can ground the planes doing the demonstration. We may cancel the Bush Pilot Demonstration due to severe winds, fog, ice flows, or any other weather conditions that make it unsafe to fly on that day.

Is there anything available to eat on the tour?

We have complimentary coffee and fresh donuts at the Riverboat Discovery. If you are looking for something more than donuts, we have three options available at the Riverboat Discovery: Discovery Dining Hall, where we serve a hearty miner’s stew (vegetarian and gluten-free options available upon request); galleys on board the boats that have snack food (reindeer dogs, chili, chips, etc.); Captain’s Corner, where we offer lunch boxes (sandwiches, salad, chips and a soda). We also serve locally made ice cream on the boats and at Captain’s Corner in the gift shop. At Gold Dredge 8, we serve complimentary freshly baked cookies, coffee and hot chocolate.

Is there assigned seating on the boat or train?

No, seating is on a first come first served basis. Every seat on board is a great seat. We have TV monitors on every deck and train car that feature a live broadcast and provide supplementary informational footage.

Is there alcohol available for purchase?

Yes, at the Riverboat Discovery, we serve beer and wine on board our boats and in the Discovery Dining Hall.

Are there restrooms on the boat and train?

At the Riverboat Discovery, there are restrooms available on the boats, at our village and in our gift shop. At the Gold Dredge 8, there are restrooms available at our train station and in the gift shop.

How long is the tour and how often do tours run?

The tour at the Riverboat Discovery is three hours long. The Gold Dredge 8 tour is two hours long. Both of our tours run twice a day from mid-May to mid-September.

I purchased my ticket through an on-line agency. Do I need to check-in on-site?

Yes, you will need to check in at our ticket counter/train station to exchange your voucher for a boarding pass.

What is your refund policy?

We offer a full refund if you cancel your reservation up to 48 hours prior to your scheduled tour time. After 48 hours, we do not offer a refund but you can reschedule your tour for another time.

Are your tours wheelchair accessible?

Yes, our tours are wheelchair accessible. At the Riverboat Discovery, wheelchairs must board at the stern (back of the boat near the paddle wheel). When you arrive please notify an associate at the ticket counter or collection booth as we require wheelchairs to pre-board and be escorted by a trained Deckhand. Our Athabascan Village has gravel paths that allow easy access. If you need assistance at the Athabascan Village please notify a Deckhand. At Gold Dredge 8, we have certain train cars that are wheelchair accessible. When you arrive notify the associate that is assisting with boarding and they will direct you to the appropriate train car.

Are animals allowed on the boat or train?

Due to customer allergies, we only allow designated trained service animals.

Is the paddle wheel decorative?

No, the paddle wheel is used to power the boat.

Are the tours appropriate for young children?

Yes, we find that all ages enjoy our tours.