Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory, the Land of the Midnight Sun. Whitehorse is tagged as the city ten minutes drive from nowhere for it is just minutes away from a vast and pristine backcountry.
We had a long drive today from Watson Lake to Whitehorse which took us 6 hours and covered 269 miles. We travelled thru lush river valleys and crossed low mountain passes in the Yukon Territory. We drove slowly not because of wildlife (which were not present on this drive) but because we were warned of several areas where there are frost heaves and gravel breaks. We experienced three things on this stretch, Frost heaves ; dry camping and the midnight sun.
Its hard to wrap our minds around the fact that we are driving over permanently frozen ground. The Yukon portion of the highway is built on top of the layers and the freezing and thawing of the frost underneath creates the frost heaves. That is just our little description of it, nevertheless we heed the cautionary signs and slowed down. We also passed the washed out highway, which caused the Alaska highway to be closed for three days and caused us to stay longer at Dawson Creek. The drive is still scenic and the Yukon has its own character.
We arrived at our chosen RV park at the Hi Country RV park without a reservation. Oh well, the only spot available is unserviced, meaning no power, no water and no sewer. We took it and experience our first dry camping (boondocking) in an RV park. As Betsy is self contained , we can generate our own power (generator) had enough water in the tank to last us a few days and we just recently dumped at the last stop. The site is only available for a day, so instead of going through the trouble of moving to another site the next day, we packed up and moved on. We saw several sights around Whitehorse and feel we’re ready to move on to the next milestone – Alaska is only a couple of days away!
The midnight night sun is truly fascinating. Since we arrived in Canada we have had long days, but today happens to be the Summer Solstice. There were a lot of events in Whitehorse to celebrate it. For us we stayed outside and read to experience the sun at midnight. Then the next day after only four hours the sun shone again at 430AM. Wow!
Since we only have a day here we took a stroll at the downtown area and a quick hike at Miles Canyon. We checked out the SS Klondike, a national historic site but was not able to climb aboard as it was past closing time. SS Klondike is the largest sternwheeler to ply the Yukon river bringing in freight and supplies to remote areas before construction of the highways.
We took a quick short hike at Miles Canyon originally called “Grand Canyon.” The canyon was an imposing challenged for the gold stampeders or miners on their way up the Yukon to the gold fields due to its narrow channel followed by the whitehorse grand rapids. The image on the canyon was taken around 7PM a very bright sun was still up there.
We have to slow down for these gravel breaks
This is where the road was washed out, and the Alaska Highway in this area was closed for 3 days. This is why we extended our stay at Dawson Creek
a pyramid shaped Simpson Peak
Steve stopped to help the down biker
Frost Heaves marker, and we encountered a few of these.
Stop for lunch with a view
We like beer! After long hours of driving we want a beer!
SS Klondike; a sternwheeler that ran off of wood fuel and carried cargo and passengers in 1942
Huge Water Paddle
Short hike at Miles Canyon
A DC 3 weather vane, landmark at the Transportation Museum
Boondocking at Hi Country RV Park
Its still bright out at 1030PM…happens to be the Summer Solstice
This next leg of our journey took us to a hot spring, wildlife on the highway and our second milestone.
We did not want to leave Muncho Lake but the unpredictable wind, rain and sun got to us. The lake is just spectacular but we have to move on. Our first stop was the Liard Hot Springs, a very popular stop for Alaska Highway travelers. This is on Mile 496 of the highway and used to be the site of a major camp during construction. These natural hot springs are a piece of paradise, from warm to hot to hotter depending on the spot you select. We soaked our tired muscles for half an hour and on our way out we saw a Moose.
As we moved along the highway, wildlife was the center piece. We were the only ones on the highway this early morning so we expected lots of animals on the road. We were not disappointed. We encountered Stone Sheep checking us out, a Moose that scampered away as we approached, grazing Bison and Bears munching away without caring about the tourists gawking at them. This was a slow drive due to some deterioration of road conditions and the increasing amount of wildlife along the way. However, we have been surprised that the roads overall have been in fairly good shape. We’ll see if that holds true as we continue.
Arriving at Watson Lake, Mile 635 is the second milestone in our Alaska Adventure. We are now in the Yukon Territory, the final Canadian province to traverse before arriving in Alaska. This community is a favorite stop over as it is home to a famous attraction, The Signpost Forest. It was started in 1942 by a homesick GI by erecting a sign pointing to his hometown of Danville, Il. Today, the collection of signs constantly grows due to visitors who wish to promote their own communities. We took a stroll and were amazed at how far the signs have traveled and their number, which has grown to over 70,000.
We stayed overnight at Tags RV Campground right across the Signpost Forest. Big rig friendly, quiet and okay for overnight stop.
Moose scampered away
Gravel breaks on the highway
You talking’ to me?
Baby bear having breakfast
Moose at Liard Hot Springs
Tufa forms the terraced base for the greenery and flowers that grow here
Liard Hot Springs
Soaking at Liard Hot Springs
There’s a moose on the loose!
Dead trees on the highway
Grazing Bears unmindful of tourists
Herd of Bison
About the Sign Post
At the forest
In the midst of signs