Parks Canada partners with First Nation to offer luxury camping at Bennett

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation is partnering with Parks Canada and a local tour operator to open a luxury wilderness camp in the remote town where Donald Trump's grandfather once ran a hotel and brothel.

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation is partnering with Parks Canada and a local tour operator to open a luxury wilderness camp in the remote town where Donald Trump’s grandfather once ran a hotel and brothel.

For roughly the same price as a round-trip ticket between the Yukon and Australia, visitors can spend four days and three nights at the Chilkoot Trail Village in Bennett, B.C. this summer.

The camp will feature a cookhouse facility with a kitchen, dining room and showers in one building, and four walled-tent units on raised platforms.

The cookhouse will feature similar characteristics from the old Arctic Hotel, which Friedrich “Fred” Trump ran in 1899.

Guests can take part in guided tours of the area, workshops given by Carcross/Tagish First Nation members and explore the remnants of a once-bustling town.

The only building still standing in Bennett is St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

Until now, the only way to get to the site was along the Chilkoot Trail or by riding the White Pass train in the summer.

Nature Tours of Yukon, the operator for the camp, is charging $1,675 for the experience. That includes flying to Bennett via floatplane and leaving on the train.

Michael Prochazka, a visitor experience manager with Parks Canada, said the gold rush-themed camp is part of a new initiative called Northern Iconic Experiences, which allows people to visit historic sites across Canada’s North.

Other sites include Ivvavik National Park in northern Yukon, Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island and Tuktut Nogait National Park near Paulatuk, N.W.T.

Prochazka said there is a plan to build a three-kilometre trail loop that goes from Bennett to Lindeman Lake and back, to be completed later this summer.

Jeffrey Barrett, CEO of the Carcross/Tagish Development Corporation, said the First Nation will ultimately be the operators of the camp.

“Right now we have an operator helping us over the next five years to develop the capacity and the skill set to run and operate this business,” he said.

“We’ve invested into this project and the idea is that we’ll be collecting a management fee for the first few years, and eventually collecting all of the profits.”

The Chilkoot Trail Village is not to be confused with another project the First Nation has been working on for a few years.

In 2014, a British Columbia-based company called International Ecotourism Development Corporation proposed building an eco-tourism resort at Millhaven Bay in partnership with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

The $44.7-million resort, dubbed the Lodge at Stoney Mountain, would include 20 cabins and 10 tents with room for a maximum of 120 people.

Barrett said the project is still alive, but “moving slowly.”

“We’re working through some planning issues with the community to see if it still fits into the First Nation’s land use plan,” he said.

“It’s also taken some time for the proponents to raise the money. But it’s still there.”

The Chilkoot Trail Village will be in operation during July and August. Prochazka said it’s just a pilot season for now but the plan is to be open for the entire summer next year.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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