Bonanza Creek is the most important of the gold-bearing creeks of the Klondike district, and is the one on which gold in large quantities was first discovered. It heads in the Dome Ridge with branches of Quartz and Hunker creeks and empties into the Klondike River a mile and quarter above Dawson, after a course in a north-northwest direction of a little over seventeen miles. It has a drainage-area of approximately 113 square miles. It is a comparatively small stream even near its mouth, where it measures, in ordinary stages of the water, about fifteen feet in width by three or four inches in depth on the bars. The principal tributaries of Bonanza Creek are Eldorado Creek, Adams Creek, Boulder Creek, Forty-nine Creek and Sixty-seven Creek on the left, and Carmack Forks, Homestake Creek, Gauvin Gulch, Queen Gulch and Mosquito Creek on the right.
The creek gravels of Bonanza Creek have been found productive from near Victoria Gulch down into the eighties below Lower Discovery, a distance, measured along the valley, of over eleven miles. The values are however not uniform, and stretches occur which have proved too barren. The richest and most uniform part of the creek extends from Victoria Gulch down stream for about two miles. The gold contents of the gravels diminish on approaching Eldorado Forks but increase again below the Forks. A short stretch of the creek above Discovery claim, half a mile in length, including No. 2 above and the famous fraction at the mouth of Skookum Gulch, was extremely rich.
Bonanza Creek gold occurs in coarse, rough and flattish grains in the upper part of the creek, and in heavy flakes in the lower. Nuggets are not plentiful as a rule, but occur in considerable abundance near the mouth of Skookum Gulch, where they are evidently largely derived from the hill-gravels.
The most important gulches worked along Bonanza Creek are Ready Bullion, Victoria, Big Skookum and Magnet. Ready Bullion enters Bonanza Creek from the left about a mile and a half above Carmack Forks and several miles above the proved productive part of the creek. The gold is coarse, rough and angular. Victoria Gulch enters Bonanza Creek from the left, one and three-quarter miles below Carmack Forks and almost at the head of the productive part of the creek. It heads with Gay Gulch, a gold-bearing tributary of Eldorado Creek. The gold is coarse and angular, and includes some large nuggets. A fiat, oblong, unworn nugget found in No. 7 claim weighed four and one-third ounces. Skookum and Magnet gulches, below Eldorado Forks, differ in character and have not been proved as productive.
To date, fine gold production since 1885 recorded a total of more than 20 million ounces, valued at over 25 billion USD at today’s prices. Major mining still continues today.
Gold claim No. 6 above Discovery on historic Bonanza Creek, is maintained by the Klondike Visitors Association for visitors to experience the thrill of discovering gold using original hand mining tools such as pick-axe, hand shovel and gold pan.
This claim was first staked by F. Ladouceur in October, 1896, not long after George Carmack made his famous discovery about a half mile downstream. Since then it has been worked by a variety of miners and mining companies, including Dredge No. 8 of the Yukon Consolidated Gold Company. The KVA now owns the claim and visitors are welcome to pan for free and keep any gold that they find.
The free claim is located approximately 9 miles/14 km up Bonanza Creek Road. Turn off the Klondike Highway and follow Bonanza Creek Road past Dredge No. 4 and the historic Discovery Claim. Watch for the signs on the left hand side of the road.