As I made the curve around the south end of the lake I looked real hard for
one of the major
washouts from June where they had to install a larger culvert, repave the
highway, and redirect runoff – but I had trouble seeing where it was!
did a good job repairing it. There was a lot of obvious grading on the
side of the road in that area but
the pavement and stripes looked as if they'd been there longer than just
TRAFFIC CONDITIONS: extremely light until we got near Whitehorse.
While I was driving I went for at least ten miles a couple times without
seeing anyone in either direction. I wonder how many people driving in
the Lower 48 can say that's ever happened to them on a weekday, even
when they're on vacation?
Seeing virtually no one else on the road through this part of the Yukon
is another clear indication that most people have already headed south
for the winter.
Still, I was surprised to see the large Cottonwood RV Park closed at Kluane
Lake. The visitor center at the south end of the lake -- in the
photo above -- was also closed for the season. We missed it on our
way up to Alaska in June, too, because we got there 15 minutes after it closed
for the day.
Next trip maybe we'll time it right.
You'll see that this whole entry has
many examples of things we've either inadvertently or intentionally
"saved" for future trips to Alaska!
overcast skies until about 3 PM, when we drove in light to
moderate rain between Haines Junction and Whitehorse. It continued
raining until we went to bed.
That was discouraging; after seeing the sun last evening we hoped for
better weather today and so did the forecasters.
Temps remained in the 40s F. all day.
Glad we weren’t much higher than 3,300 feet (Bear Summit) or we’d have
been in some snow.
We saw more terminal dust in the St. Elias Range today, as well as
thicker snow at higher elevations.
It appeared to be snowing at about 4,500 feet and higher:
We had more hills today than yesterday but generally stayed in the 2,200- to 2,400-foot
range on the Alaska Hwy. The biggest elevation gain/loss was up to Bear Summit and down to Haines Jct.
At 3,000 feet there were more red plants along the road and in the
mountains but it was on the wrong side of the road for me to photograph
well. The next two shots show some red shrubs on the distant slopes:
As you can see in most of these pictures, the aspen and birch leaves were very pretty again today:
The overcast weather was similar to when we came through here on June 13
going the other direction but it was "brighter" today with all the gold and
orange leaf color contrasting with the spruce trees than it was in early summer with
more monochromatic light green leaves and dark green pine needles.
Like yesterday, we passed lots of lakes and wet areas and crossed several
rivers and smaller streams again today:
The Yukon is full of water, even at the end of summer.
We shouldn't have to worry about flooding this time, though. We'll never
forget that unprecedented five-day layover in Watson Lake in June
because the Alaska Highway washed out in several places.
MORE FOR THE NEXT TIME
Because of the wet weather we buzzed through Haines Junction again.
Located at KM 1579 on the Alaska Hwy., it lies at the junction of the
road that runs 200+ miles south to Haines, AK.
It's also a base for
exploring Kluane National Park. I'd like to spend some time at the
park's visitor center and hike some trails there -- next
time we're here.
View of the Kluane River from the rest area at KM
1726 on the Alaska Hwy.
On another trip I would like to drive the scenic Haines Hwy., a dead-end
road that borders the southeast part of Kluane NP and travels through
several climate zones. You can see its location on the map farther up in
I don't know how tedious it would be to drive down there, however. For
one thing, that road goes
through the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska, which means a border
crossing outbound and a second one on the return.
Going through customs would be easier if we left the
camper in the Yukon or BC as close to the Alaska border as possible and took just the truck to Haines on
a day trip. That would eliminate a possible RV search (a truck search is
much less of a hassle) and reduce a lot of the miles we'd have to drive in
one day. Haines is just 41 miles inside the Alaska border on that road.
Nearly the same
scenario is involved if we visit Skagway, AK., located south of
Whitehorse (also shown on the map above).
We've already ruled
that out for tomorrow for various reasons but will consider it on
another trip up this way. Skagway is about 150 miles south of the Alaska
Hwy. on a dead-end route that goes through 135 miles of the Yukon and
BC, then just 15 miles in Alaska.
PIONEER RV PARK IN
We arrived in Whitehorse about 3:15 PM and had to get used to people and
traffic lights again.
We got diesel at the same station next to WalMart
that we used on the way up ($1.339/liter). Jim wanted to park at WM
overnight but the lot was packed with RVs and other vehicles on this
Since it’s raining today and tomorrow here, we aren’t motivated to stick
around for the weekend to see any sights or do any activities. We didn't
stay overnight in June, either, because the five-day delay in Watson
Lake had put us "behind schedule." (Not that we normally follow
Whitehorse is another
place to spend more time on our next trip . . .
After fueling up we headed east on the Alaska Hwy., hunting for a place to spend the night.
We considered two Yukon government campgrounds east of Whitehorse but decided to
check out the private Pioneer RV Park first. We were tired of driving in
the rain and ended up paying for one
That's us above.
Pioneer RV Park is
large (140 sites) and
has a variety of dry camping to full hookup options. We think we did
pretty well with a pull thru full hookup site with free WiFi for $28.35
Canadian (less American) with our Good Sam discount.
The only thing we're missing is TV reception.
They assigned us to a gravel site with no one close to us. There is some
road noise but with both small electric heaters running we can’t hear it
unless we’re outside. It’s darn chilly and took a while to get the
Empty sites on our doorside
The dry heat from the electric heaters is preferable to running the
propane heater at a site with no hookups. Propane heat causes more
condensation than electric heat in our camper, which is still
uncomfortably humid inside.
We are happy to have WiFi because we couldn’t find anywhere to
park in town that might have free WiFi. We were able to access our e-mail
using Internet Explorer but couldn’t upload corrections to the four
website pages I recently got done. The RV park limits what types of
sites we can use (like no You Tube) although 1500 megabytes for each of
us is generous.
This is a popular park in the summer and it offers many services,
including bus and/or train tours to Skagway and Juneau.
GETTING TRIPPED OUT
The Alaska Highway was mostly exciting on the way to Alaska in June
because everything was new to us and we were at the beginning of a Big
Now the road just seems long!
I think a lot of it has to do with the lousy weather the last two days.
We’re also kind of tripped out – we’ve seen enough visitor centers and
sights for a while. I'll never get tired of glaciers, water, and
In the evening we looked at various towns/cities along both routes we’ve
considered taking to Great Falls, MT – the Cassiar/Yellowhead to
Banff/Jasper National Parks vs. the Alaska Hwy. the way we came up in June.
After ruling out side
trips to Haines and Skagway, we've thought about
visiting two small adjacent towns on a spur road off the Cassiar Hwy
-- Stewart, AK and Hyder, BC. Both villages sound like worthy
destinations for a day trip in the truck, with historic buildings, bear
and salmon viewing, a wildlife estuary, and a glacier you can see from
the bottom and the top.
This day trip would
also entail two additional border crossings. Again, we could simplify
going through customs by leaving the camper at the junction of the
Cassiar and the spur road and take just the truck and Cody with us.
Based on weather predictions the next few days it will be sunnier if we
get past the Rockies faster on the Alaska Hwy. than if we go west of
them for two to three days on the Cassiar Hwy. We have some other
concerns about the more remote Cassiar, too.
In addition, Stewart-Hyder is wet all week (we’d get there on Monday or
Tuesday). We are more than tired of rain this summer.
So tonight we decided to just go back the way we came. The next one or
two days may be wet but then it should be sunnier.
Add Stewart-Hyder to our list of places to visit "Maybe Next Time."
We'll stay on the Alaska Hwy. and aim for Watson Lake tomorrow. Hope we
have to spend only ONE night there this time!
Next entry: Day 3 on the journey south --
Whitehorse, YT to Watson Lake, YT
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil