This has been by far the best of the first four
days on our journey south from Alaska.
Although it was overcast all day the clouds were
high enough that we could see a lot of the beautiful scenery
described in the quote above.
There are river views much of the way in this
hilly section of the Alaska Hwy. This is the Liard River.
In addition to the scenic mountainous
terrain we traversed today in southern Yukon and northern British Columbia,
the condition of the Alaska Highway continues to improve as we drive
southeast and today we saw more wildlife than probably any other single
day since we've been in Canada and Alaska -- even on our Denali bus tours!
In fact, there are so many pictures and so much
journaling I want to share today that I'll divide them into several pages.
I'll start with general road trip information . . .
and south on the Alaska Highway, also called YT 1 in the Yukon and BC 97
in British Columbia. Now that the road surface is improving we can drive
more miles, more easily.
These are the
relevant map sections from The Milepost
website with today's route
East of Watson Lake the highway
crosses the Yukon/British Columbia border several times, although you can't see
that on the map sections above. Most of the time today we were
in British Columbia.
We left Watson Lake about 9 AM and arrived in
Fort Nelson at 4:30 PM, all Pacific Time. We stopped several times for
photos of scenery and wildlife, a walk at Liard River Hot Springs, lunch,
and other short breaks. I'll talk more about the stops we made in a little bit.
Better and better as we travel east toward more populated areas. Jim was
able to go 60-62 MPH most of the time. (That's an average speed for us
on freeways in the lower 48.) Summer road repairs made the surface
smoother than it was in June.
It's ironic that we saw warning signs like this as we entered British
Columbia -- but none in the Yukon, where road conditions are
not as good:
There was minimal road construction and no one working today (a Sunday) along our
route. Some of the smoothest pavement was through the Rockies where the new chip-seal
pavement was recently laid but hasnít been painted yet.
We were able to spot the place around Muncho Lake where we went through
water on the road in early June. Crews were busy at that time with bulldozers,
trying to divert the water pouring over the road from the north:
Above and below: flooding at Muncho Lake on
June 7; no problems today
This area was flooded even worse the next couple days while we were in
Watson Lake. I believe I read that the pavement was washed out here,
too. We were lucky in June that we were farther along where we had a
good campsite for the duration of the road closures.
This is what the low, damaged area looked like today, coming from the other
They did a good job repairing the site.
It probably wasn't the first time the road has been flooded or otherwise
damaged here; it's low and in a drainage area.
All around the northeast (non-lake) side of Muncho Lake there are loose
rocks and some cliffs. It looks like mudslides and rockslides would be a
continual hazard along the lake, too.
TRAFFIC CONDITIONS: still fairly light. We saw more RVs today,
going in both directions. We played tortoise and hare with several campers
who stopped various places like we did.
This section through the Rockies is the hilliest part of the Alaska
Highway and in my opinion is the most scenic with all the mountains, river valleys,
and glacial lakes like Muncho and Summit.
Lots of mountainous
Our elevations ranged from 1,400 feet over one of the many rivers we
crossed to a high point of 4,250 feet at Summit Pass.
View of Summit Lake from Summit Pass
The next highest pass was Steamboat Mountain Pass at 3,500 feet. The longest
(6.7 miles) and steepest (8%) grade on this section of the Alaska Hwy.
was at the end of today's trip from Steamboat Mountain Pass down to Fort Nelson
at 1,383 feet elevation.
Except for the two passes we were mostly at lower elevations today than
the first three days in Canada. The tree leaves, shrubs, and other
plants were more green today because weíre gradually going south and at
lower elevations. We didn't see quite as many gold, orange, and red leaf
colors in this segment.
Above and below: some early autumn leaf color
above the Liard River, which we followed for quite a while
overcast all day.
The clouds were generally higher today and the mountains werenít obscured
like they have been on some of this journey south.
below: some fog this morning along the Liard River east of Watson
Lake but it wasn't a problem
We got into a little bit of fog once but nothing like yesterday.
really good views down to the Muskwa River valley near Steamboat
Approaching Steamboat Pass from the west
Broad Muskwa riverbed below us as we climb to the
Still climbing the mostly-gentle grade up to 3,500
feet; no snow up here --or fog, like on June 7.
We missed those and other views in the rain and fog in early June:
Although it would have made for better pictures to have blue sky, at least we didnít
have to drive into the sun this morning.
see a doggone thing on the pass in the fog on June 7
ran into a large truck pulling out of the overlook at the top.
We didnít see any snow on any
of the mountains this time Ė terminal dust or snow remaining from the
winter. I know there was still snow on the mountains around Muncho Lake in June.
Muncho Lake; Peterson
Mountain is in the distance.
It was in the low
50s F. in Watson Lake this morning and definitely cooler than that at 4,250 feet at
It warmed up as we descended from 3,500 feet at Steamboat Mountain
Pass to Fort Nelson -- 68 F. and partly sunny in town. Nice! It was
warmer outside than inside the camper so we kept the doors and windows
open for a while
after we got set up at our campground.
1) ALLEN'S LOOKOUT is an overlook at KM 1345 with a great
view of the Liard River and Goat Mountain. The huge parking area would be good for
staying overnight in an RV. I didn't see any signs prohibiting it.
According to a sign at the overlook pirates took advantage of the good
views of the river from the overlook to
watch for, then rob, passing riverboats.
2) LIARD RIVER HOT
SPRINGS PROVINCIAL PARK is a popular tourist destination located at KM
1463 on the
Alaska Highway. We planned to stop at the park on the way up to Alaska in June
but bypassed it after our unexpected five-day delay in Watson Lake due
to the highway washouts.
We stopped for about
45 minutes today so we could check out the campground and trail to the
hot springs. I'll write more about the park in a separate entry.
The Alaska Highway passed through or next to
three other scenic provincial parks today -- Stone Mountain
(includes Summit Lake and Summit Pass), Muncho Lake,
and Northern Rocky Mountain. We stopped at the two lakes briefly
to stretch our legs and enjoy the views:
3) MUNCHO LAKE is a beautiful 7Ĺ
glacial lake in a
provincial park named after it. "Muncho"
means "Big Lake" in the Kaska language. It is one of the largest natural
lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
We stopped at the
west end of the lake at approximately KM 1516 to eat lunch and enjoy
the views to the water and the "folded" mountains (Terminal
Range) on the other side of the lake.
I continued taking pictures as Jim drove along the lake shore, with the
water close to my side and cliffs sometimes near us on the driver's
side. We stopped a couple other places along the lake for other views
and more photos.
What a beautiful section of the highway, even on a cloudy day!
The lake's deep greenish-blue color comes from the silt that
leaches into it. Today the water next to the shore looked its iconic
deep turquoise color but farther out it wasnít very colorful, apparently
because of all the clouds.
We saw measuring sticks like these in at least two places. This one has
a red ribbon tied on it. I'm guessing it's a high-water mark:
It was near the place where the road was flooded
in June and at about the right height.
Continued on the next page: scenes
from Summit Lake and Pass, Toad River area, Fort Nelson, and a heritage museum
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil