Oh, my goodness, we couldn't have asked for a better day to drive this
gorgeous section of the Alaska Highway! Not only did we get to enjoy all
the scenic vistas, we also saw our first large critters along the road.
You know how we feared another rainy, foggy day?
It started out like that at Fort Nelson, just like it did three years
ago. Fort Nelson is apparently in a valley that stays fogged in more
than areas at higher elevations. This morning we lucked out and got
above the clouds in just a few miles:
I've got a lot to say in this entry, accompanied by a bunch of
blue-sky photos (I literally took ten times more pictures than
yesterday), so let's get started . . .
ROUTE: All on the Alaska Highway (BC 97 and YT 1)
The Milepost map sections. Read
them from bottom up, right to left:
DISTANCE & TIME: 321 miles in 8:30 hours
AM to 4:15 PM Pacific DST) with seven stops. There are lots of nice
distractions on this segment, especially on a pretty day!
1) overlook at first high point of about 3,200 feet elevation;
could see fog over Fort Nelson's valley and snowy peaks in the distance:
We've learned this lesson before
-- just because it's foggy in a valley doesn't mean it is foggy higher
And then we kept climbing higher
. . .
2) one-way traffic stop for 3 minutes, then about a 3-mile section of
nicely packed dirt road ready to be paved;
3) pull off to get a drink, pee break for everybody, etc.;
4) glacial-blue Summit Lake to take pictures (high point of Alaska Hwy. at 4,2000+
Scenic (and chilly!) Stone Mountain Provincial
Park campground at south end of Summit Lake
It was a real challenge to cut
the original roadbed from the rocks back in 1942;
clearing mud and rockslides is
still a challenge in the spring and early summer.
5) south end of another larger glacial lake, Muncho Lake, to eat lunch
6) Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park for a hike (photos on next
7) and Allen's Lookout to feed the dogs and look out over the Liard
River from the promontory where pirates used to raid boats heading up or
While at the lookout Jim helped a guy in a 42-foot Landmark 5th-wheel
grease his bearings after he had trouble with his tires heating up. (A
42-foot trailer is a lot of RV to haul!!)
TRAFFIC & ROAD CONDITIONS:
Traffic was very light all day. Love it!
We expected to see more RVs going our
direction since there were so many at Triple G Campground last night but
we saw very few going north. We left before most of them this morning.
I'm surprised to see so many RVs going south:
A 5th-wheel heading south; Rocky
Mountains in the distance
The highway was generally in very good condition in British Columbia,
with more "waves" in the Yukon.
This sign warning of both caribou and wavy pavement was in BC:
It was a little wavy but we didn't see any
Historically the roadway gets
progressively worse the farther north you go in the Yukon, then improves
a bit from the Alaska border to Tok.
The only construction was about KM 555 for several miles but the
dirt/gravel surface was surprisingly smooth:
The camper and truck got mighty dirty, though. Jim washed them at our
campsite this evening.
Elevations ranged from about 1,400 feet in fort Nelson to about 4,250
feet at Summit Lake, the highest point on the Alaska Hwy. There were at
least two other passes in the 3,200 to 3,500-foot range.
None of the grades were killer for a big rig -- just relentlessly
up and down.
Above and below: There is a
long descent from Summit Lake to the MacDonald River Valley
The whole route was a roller coaster, especially before Liard Hot
Springs. The road runs close to several major rivers, including the Tetsa,
Toad, Trout, and Liard. Some drainages have very wide gravel beds
down in the valleys, far below the highway.
The highway lies close to the Toad and Trout rivers for several miles.
Both rivers have beautiful blue glacial silt in them:
Example of an "alluvial fan"
The other rivers appeared clear and lower than they were three years ago
while flooded. There are many other
stream crossings, wet areas, and lakes in this beautiful section of the
This is either the Racing or MacDonald River where
the Alaska Hwy. crosses it.
View of Liard River coming down from Muncho Lake
Above and below: The Alaska Highway is next
to or near the Liard River for over 130 miles.
We drove through two provincial parks -- Stone Mountain, with
many exposed granite mountains,
and Muncho Lake, which extends along the highway for a lot more miles
than just along the lake.
Foggy and 50s F. in Fort Nelson when we left this morning. Fortunately,
we got out of the fog within a few miles.
As we climbed higher we could see the low layer of clouds in the valley
where we started:
We're glad we didn't try to wait it out! It was a beautiful sunny day
everywhere else we traveled today, with a high of 68 F. at Watson Lake.
I'm so grateful we had great weather in this gorgeous section of the
Continued on the
next page -- photos of critters, Liard River Hot
Springs, and scenes from Watson Lake (campgrounds, Wye Lake, Sign Post
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil