Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass is opening June 18, and it will be a whole new experience for visitors to one of Southcentral Alaska's most popular destinations.

Salmon Berry Travel and Tours, a leading Alaska-owned tour operator based in Anchorage, was awarded the contract to operate the recreation area this summer, and they are planning many significant changes that will enhance the overall visitor experience. Independence Mine State Historical Park features historic mine buildings, interpretative sites and trails. This summer, Salmon Berry Tours will offer guided nature walks and hikes, outdoor gear rental, family-friendly activities and a new snack shop.

“We are excited for this new opportunity to share the rich history and recreation of the park,” said Mandy Garcia, co-owner of Salmon Berry Travel and Tours. “We are busy getting the mine buildings cleaned up and ready for the public. The Manager’s House, Bunkhouse #2 and the Assay office buildings will all be open to the public at no additional charge."

The gate to the upper lot will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the last car going up at 6 p.m. The lower lot will remain open and people visiting after 6 p.m. can park there and walk to the mine. The snack shop, tours and visitor information center are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

This year,  Manager's House and Visitor Center will be open for people to visit the exhibits as in the past. Bunkhouse #2 will be the main information center, which is where tours will check in and guests can grab a snack or drinks for their day in Hatcher Pass, whether that includes visiting the mine or hitting some of the amazing hiking trails nearly.

Also new this year is a field lecture. Local tour guides will provide daily interpretation on a variety of subjects including the history of the park and its renovation project. The 45-minute tour is $15 per person ($12 military/senior and $5 children) and is being offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

New customized private tours are available for $100 for up to four guests and will be offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with reservations recommended (907-278-3572). On private tours, topics can be arranged to the group's interest, and include hiking, gold panning and admission to buildings closed to the public.

Salmon Berry Tours is also offering outdoor gear rental for do-it-yourself explorers to Hatcher Pass, including gold pans, field guides, binoculars and trekking poles.

This summer, plan a trip to Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine.