The segment of the Alaska Highway that winds through the Yukon is my
favorite part of the long drive to Alaska. It's rugged, wild, remote and fabulously
scenic, especially on sunny days.
We got to enjoy more of
the Yukon today on our 270-mile drive from Watson Lake to Whitehorse.
Along the way we crossed the Cassiar Mountain Range, drove over nine rivers,
two with the longest and third-longest bridge spans on the
Alaska Highway, and followed the shores of two long lakes (Teslin and
Jim even spotted another grizzly bear! Somehow I missed it. We aren't
seeing as many critters this time as we did outbound on our 2012 trip to
Alaska. It's not for lack of looking.
This entry covers our drive from Watson Lake, past the creek that shut
the Alaska Highway down for an unprecedented five days in 2012, and on to
Whitehorse, where we're spending several nights. I'll also include
information about the Pioneer RV Park where we're camping.
The Alaska Highway is more "groomed" along the side of the road in
British Columbia than it is in the Yukon. The shoulders are more narrow
here and grasses, small shrubs, and trees are allowed to grow closer to
Narrow shoulders, and snow high
in the Cassiar Range
We saw lots of lupines, cream-colored Indian paintbrush, and short, bright,
fuchsia-colored fireweeds along the road today
but I didn't get any good photos of them.
Constantly up and down but no real steep places. Lots of pretty
mountains with some snow on top and in the shady ravines.
And oh, boy, are
there a lot of
streams. This section of the Alaska Highway closely follows several
rivers (Rancheria and Swift, e.g.) and two long lakes (Teslin and
Marsh). Most of the streams and lakes were on the south (Jim's) side so
I couldn't take good photos of them going northbound.
We crossed at least nine rivers
in this section -- Little Rancheria, Rancheria, Swift, Smart,
Morley, Nisutlin, Tetlin, McClintock, and Yukon.
The longest bridge span on the
entire Alaska Highway crosses Nisutlin Bay at Teslin. The metal-grated
bridge is 1,917 feet long. The Nisutlin River forms the "bay" when it
flows into Teslin Lake at this location.
There is a magnificent view of the
bay and bridge at a rest area high on the hill before descending to the
river going northbound. Unfortunately, we missed it this time so these
photos of the bridge and water aren't as dramatic as they are in person:
Suffice it to say, it's a long bridge over a whole bunch
I am not usually afraid of bridges
or water but I must admit I had a few nightmares about this
particular bridge after our 2012 trip. Considering the poor state of
most of the roads in the Yukon I have to wonder about the safety of its
I pretty much forgot about my
paranoia until we were about halfway across the bridge this morning, and
I wisely kept my mouth shut! No need worrying Jim.
About thirty miles later we
crossed the third-longest water span (1,770 feet) on the Alaska Highway
over the Teslin River at Johnson's Crossing and I didn't give it a
second thought. I don't remember which
bridge is second-longest.
View of Teslin River from the bridge
My favorite bridge in this section
is this pretty blue one, the Historic Milepost 897 Yukon River Bridge a
few miles south of Whitehorse:
The Yukon River is simply awesome through and near Whitehorse. It's wide
and has a beautiful blue color.
This scenic S-curve in the river is visible going up the hill past the
At approximately 2,000 miles in length, this is one of the longest
rivers in North America. It drains three-quarters of the Yukon and a
third of Alaska. It was very important historically in the exploration
and settlement of the province.
In another entry I'll show more photos of the Yukon River through downtown and
scenic Miles Canyon.
WHERE TO CAMP?
We stayed one night at the Pioneer RV Park east of Whitehorse on our way
back south from Alaska in September, 2012 and pretty much had the place
It was OK for one night but we thought the Hi Country RV Park looked
more attractive from the road and would be nicer to stay in for
four nights this time. It has a lot of trees and isn't just a big gravel
We thought we might get wet in Whitehorse but never
did get into any rain.
This is the NW end of Marsh Lake, a little before
the blue bridge above.
We passed Pioneer and drove a couple more miles
west to Hi Country. We should have called them this morning to see if
they had any spaces large enough for us and we might have had more of a
choice of sites on a Friday afternoon.
When we pulled in they said only one spot was
still available for the weekend. We looked at it but Jim wouldn't have
been able to back the Cameo into it because of all the trees along the
PIONEER RV PARK
Phooey. We drove back to Pioneer, which still
had several long pull-thrus available at 3 PM for however many days we
wanted one. We were surprised how many more sites were occupied now than
the last time we stayed here.
By evening almost all of the big rig sites were full. After the weekend
a few more were available. We stayed until Tuesday morning.
We were allowed to choose among the empty sites. We picked one at the
end of the long row in the lower parking area that's an open gravel lot.
All the others, except the one at the far end of the row, are very close
back to back and front to front. We have more room out our door and can
park next to the camper:
Cost for full hookups with tax and Good Sam discount is $32.13/CA or
about 80% of that in U.S. dollars. We have 30 amps, water, sewer, cable
TV, and limited WiFi (300 megabytes a day; could purchase more if
we needed it).
Our door and most
windows face west. Sunrise is about 4:30 AM and sunset is about
11:20 PM. Civil daylight and twilight make it light even longer.
I don't have trouble going to sleep when it's still light. My problem up
here is getting into bed -- because it's light so late, it's hard to
stick close to my preferred 10 PM bedtime.
Not our kind of RV
park but our best option for this weekend
in Whitehorse since
we didn't make advanced reservations.
There is an upper level to the campground, up a steep, narrow, gravel
roadway. The sites are smaller and don't have cable or WiFi but it's a
pretty area for small RVs and tents.
The campground also has bathrooms, showers, laundry room (washers and
dryers expensive and not very efficient), dog wash, truck, car, and RV
wash, small grocery/gift shop, oil change place, rec room, tent sites,
and buses for tours.
We didn't spend any
time exploring Whitehorse on our trip to or from Alaska in 2012. This
time we had three full days and this afternoon/evening in the area. The
next three entries will describe what we did and saw. If we don't go
back to the Lower 48 on the Cassiar Highway we may stop here again to do
Next entry: hiking to the summit of Grey Mountain, with great
views of Whitehorse and Miles Canyon
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil