No visit to Juneau, Alaska, could be complete without feasting upon some fresh wild caught salmon.
Whether you’re visiting on a cruise or spending multiple days in Juneau, one place where you may think about doing this is the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.
In this article, I’ll highlight everything you will want to know before visiting the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.
What is the Gold Creek Salmon Bake?
The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is an outdoor restaurant venue located in Juneau, Alaska.
It offers a buffet dining experience in a scenic rainforest setting along Salmon Creek. In addition to dining, you can explore the surrounding scenery which includes a beautiful waterfall and historic mining ruins.
It’s open from late April to early October and prices are: $62 for adults and $46 for children. Give yourself about an hour and a half to enjoy the site.
Plenty of people combine a visit to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake with other activities like a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching so look for packages that appeal to your interests.
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Where is the Gold Creek Salmon Bake?
The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is located at: 1061 Salmon Creek Ln, Juneau, AK 99801.
This is about 10 minutes from Juneau Cruise Ship Terminal Area/Downtown Juneau. It’s also located just a couple of minutes away from the DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery.
You can take a free Salmon Bake shuttle bus that will take you from the Juneau Cruise Ship Terminal Area/Downtown Juneau.
Did you know? The Gold Creek Salmon Bake was featured on Top Chef, Season 10, Episode 14.
The Gold Creek Salmon Bake experience
As soon as you enter the Gold Creek Salmon Bake premises, you’ll find the “Gold Strike Saloon” where you can purchase soft drinks, wine, and beer.
If you are a walk-in guest, this is also where you can purchase your tickets for the buffet.
Only water, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and lemonade are included in your standard ticket and you can find the drinking station towards the back of the buffet area.
When you’re ready to sit, you can select any table that you can find open. Lots of the tables are covered so even if it’s raining you can dine without getting drenched. Some of the seating options even have heating towers to help you stay warm.
When we arrived there were quite a few tables open and we found a spot right on the creek which was a super scenic spot to eat.
It’s a little confusing because of the restaurant’s name, but the creek that runs through here is actually Salmon Creek. Gold Creek runs through the heart of Juneau.
After finding our table and settling in, we then made our way over to the buffet where they had:
- Salmon Caesar salad
- Cheechako chicken
- Chilkoot baked beans
- Tongass wild-rice pilaf
- au gratin Potatoes
I enjoyed the salmon Caesar salad flavor although it was a little soggy and overdressed for my liking. The baked beans were very good and the moist cornbread also delivered with a nice slightly sweet touch.
The wild rice was a little bland and the potatoes were good but nothing special.
As for the chicken, it was well cooked with a nice barbecue flavor but the skin a bit much.
And then there was the alderwood-grilled wild salmon.
They throw a lot of salmon fillets on the grill at once and then whenever they are cooked they will ring a bell to let you know that they are ready to be served. So if you want it fresh, just listen for the bell.
Some of the salmon fillets are plain while others are glazed. Interestingly, one of the salmon filets contained about a dozen bones while the other one was bone free.
The plain salmon was well cooked but didn’t offer a ton of flavor. Luckily, the glazed salmon offered a lot more flavor with a tinge of caramel sweetness.
If you’re wanting to experience some type of unique salmon flavor, the glazed is definitely the way you want to go.
After your entree you can move on to dessert.
They serve a special blueberry cake that you can find off to the side of the buffet. It’s a fluffy and powdery cake that I thought was one of the best things offered on the menu.
Sometimes they have live Alaskan folk music playing that can help liven up the atmosphere.
Nature path and waterfall
After finishing up our meal, we wanted to check out the rest of the property which to be honest was the highlight of the whole experience for me.
There’s a path that takes you along the creek where you can admire the scenic rainforest.
It’s a very peaceful and short stroll along the creek.
You may be able to spot some berries like salmon berries along the way.
Because we were visiting in late July, you were able to spot quite a few salmon swimming upstream in the spawn area. This was a really cool moment because up to that point I had not actually seen any salmon in the wild.
A bit further down you’ll find the beautiful Salmon Creek Falls which is a must to check out.
You might get sprayed by the falls so having a rain jacket is definitely handy if you want to get close.
It’s also really cool to see some of the mining relics which played a role in the Juneau gold rush back in the late 1800s.
The Chilkoot Shaft, found by Salmon Creek Falls, is an old remnant of an airshaft that served the Wagner Mine, which was part of the Alaska-Gastineau Mining Company.
It was part of the massive $38 million dollar investment which was ultimately abandoned in 1930 after running out of profitable ore. It looks like something you would see at Disney World.
Another cool piece of history to check out is the big water wheel known as a “Pelton Wheel” invented by Lester Allan Pelton, which was a water turbine that extracts energy from the impulse of moving water.
These played a major role for mining operations back in the gold rush days and so it was interesting to get up close to one in a setting like this.
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at panning for gold they had a little set up there so you could give it a shot.
They offer complimentary marshmallows and you can take those over to the campfire areas and roast marshmallows on a stick (you can get these from the bar).
They used to provide an entire smores set up but too many people littered for that to be sustainable.
The campfire areas are covered and have low-lying benches so you can warm up by the fire.
After checking out the falls and the fire pits, we wandered into the gift shop which is located towards the back where you can also find the bathrooms.
They have a little bit of everything inside the shop. It’s a lot of the same souvenirs you will probably find in other places in Juneau but some unique things as well. If you are a fan of the glaze they put on the salmon you can actually purchase it from the gift shop.
After the gift shop, it was time for us to head back.
I didn’t realize it until later but the Salmon Bake provides transportation to and from Downtown Juneau via their yellow buses that you can’t miss.
That’s a pretty important detail because of the cost of the experience.
If you’re able to take advantage of the free transportation that could end up saving you about $40 that you would otherwise be paying to a ride share or taxi company.
The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is a unique Alaskan experience.
If you’re going purely for the food, you may be a bit disappointed based on everything that we tried (to be fair, plenty of people seemed to enjoy the food a lot more than we did).
But if you’re going for the overall experience which includes spending some time in a beautiful Alaskan rainforest setting, encountering wild salmon, roasting marshmallows by a campfire, and getting a nice dose of history then the experience may live up to your expectations.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.