Railroad and shipping companies were eager to answer that question. By train to San Francisco, Portland or Seattle and boat to Skagway or St. Michaels, they said.
Gold rushers discovered the least expensive route started from Skagway
and involved crossing the mountains, building a boat, and traveling down
the Yukon River. Passengers on the longer, more expensive route took passage
on steamers to St. Michaels then transferred to smaller boats for the trip
up the Yukon.
Both routes led to the Canadian Klondike where Mounties checked to see if they had enough provisions for a year and told them of the Canadian tax on all gold. Regulations? Taxes? on Americans? No way, said some. We'll find better gold on American soil.
Yes, said the Pacific Steam Whaling Company and others. The Copper River District is largely unexplored but you'll find more gold there than the Klondike. And, if you don't, it's still an easier route to the Klondike. The Valdez/Copper River Area Gold Rush began.
(Jim and Nancy Lethcoe are the authors of Valdez Gold Rush Trails 1898-99 ).