Alaskan Highway - Yukon Territory
So far, traveling in our group has been fun and quite an adventure. When you travel with Fantasy Tours, you pay your money, and they book all your campgrounds, book many of your excursions (we do have free days during travel where you can do your own thing & Fantasy provides suggested optional “things to do” in the area at your own expense), and give you turn-by-turn directions on how to go from point A to point B.
Knowing what to expect on my drive for the next day has decreased my anxiety. You know what to anticipate, look for, and where the hills and road hazards are on your route.
Also, with Fantasy tours, we have a Wagon Master, the leader, and a Tail Gunner, who takes up the back of the group, ensuring we all arrive safely, and no one is left behind.
Dawson Creek, British Columbia – Northern Lights RV Park
So bright and early on July 27th, we departed Hinton Jasper KOA for Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Dawson Creek is the start of the Alaskan Highway. They call it the "Mile Zero Marker." We had a guest speaker at our campground the day we arrived, he was from the Dawson Creek Visitor's Center. He educated us on the history of Dawson Creek, specific sites to see, and things to do.
The next day we made our way to the Visitors Center and the “Mile Zero Marker” for our group photo before breaking up a doing a short walk around in the original city center; we took our pictures at a few of the landmark signs in the city.
One of the sites we drove to and visited was the HistoricKiskatinaw Curved Bridge. This bridge is a part of the "Old Highway" made of wood. The bridge is no longer used for traffic. However, you can walk on it, use it for pictures, and admire the work done. You can read more about it by clicking the link above.
Dawson Creek was hot the few days we were there, and the temperatures soared well into the 90s. When traveling in our large group, some rigs were only given 30 AMP; others, like us, were lucky enough to have 50 AMP. So, with that being said, some struggled to keep the temps low enough due to only being able to run one air conditioner at a time.
Fort Nelson, British Columbia – Triple G Hideaway
We woke up on July 29th (my birthday) and drove for about 7 hours up to Fort Nelson, British Columbia. This was a long day; once we arrived, it was more relaxed, and the gray skies had set in. The campground overall was cute and quaint. Some of our friends spotted a bear running in and out of some campsites. Unfortunately, we did not see it because we were fighting off the mosquitoes that had invaded us and made things miserable.
The campground had an "all you can eat" buffet that we did for my birthday, nothing but first class for me. (Ha Ha!) It was like a banquet of chicken, grandma's homemade meatballs, and some lasagna. I didn't have the all-you-can-eat, but I did have a Patty Melt that was ho-hum!
Mark and I agreed that we would celebrate my birthday once we were in Alaska, and it would be an Alaskan King Crab dinner along with some Alaskan Salmon, and that would make me the happiest girl alive.
The Northern Rockies, British Columbia (Laird Hot Springs) – Laird Hot Springs Lodge
After one night in Fort Nelson, we woke up bright and early and headed out for Laird Hot Springs. Not too bad of a drive, but I knew we were entering uncharted territory. This campground was very primitive, infested with mosquitoes, and all they had for us were water hookups. There was no electricity and no sewer. But, to even things out, we had a Bison grazing near our motorhome. Man, those things are enormous! Also, Mark and I and a bunch of other people in our travel group decided to head over to the hot springs and soak for about an hour.
As you can see by the pictures, this was an actual hot spring. It felt very tropical, right up to the infestation of mosquitoes. I wouldn't say I like mosquito spray, but I used a ton of it to keep them away.
Watson Lake, Yukon Territory – Downtown RV Park
We have now entered the Yukon Territory. The Yukon, a territory in northwest Canada, is wild, mountainous, and sparsely populated (43,000 people for the whole territory).
The Yukon is home to Canada's highest peak, the largest ice fields, the smallest desert, and the westernmost point in Canada. It has an incredible array of wildlife, and grizzly bears, caribou, moose, and other animals roam the land. Unfortunately, while we were here, we did not see that much wildlife; not many in our group have either.
However, we visited the "Sign Post Forest while in Watson Lake." This area started when the old Alaskan Highway was built, and some homesick workers posted signs of their "hometown." From there, others have done the same, and as you can see, there is a vast array of signs from all over the world.
We did post a sign for our group, showing that we were there. I also snagged a few pictures of the signs from Washington State cities I have also visited.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – Pioneer RV Park
So we arrived on August 1st in Whitehorse, YT.
Whitehorse is the capital of northwest Canada's Yukon territory. While in Whitehorse, we took a little excursion on a tour bus and visited the city.
We saw the Suspension Bridge across the Yukon, took pictures, and then went to the Klondike. SS Klondike is the name of two sternwheelers, the second now a National Historic Site located in Whitehorse, Yukon. They ran freight between Whitehorse and Dawson City, along the Yukon River, the first from 1929 to 1936 and the second, an almost exact replica of the first, from 1937 to 1950. We could not go inside as they were doing some work to restore this piece of history, but we did get to peek in the windows.
We visited the Visitors Center and then drove through the town to see the sights. It was very entertaining and learning about Whitehorse was very eye-opening.
From my perspective, this part of the world is very rural, isolated, and rugged. Mark and I went grocery shopping one day, and I was surprised by the lack of items on the shelves in the store. There were freezers for frozen vegetables and other objects, which were completely bare. There were shelves for canned goods that were completely bare. So, when talking about supply chain issues, I have to say the YT suffered greatly. It was also shocking as everyone in the store just shopped as if they were used to it. If I had walked into my grocery store and it was that bare, I think I'd be asking many questions. It didn't seem to bother them at all.
On another day, we visited Muk-Tuk Adventures. The owner, Jeff, took us on an up close and personal venture through the day with his dogs. I will tell you, driving up to the place, it hit me hard; he has 140 sled dogs that he trains and cares for. As you can see from the pictures, the dogs are leashed near their dog house and can maneuver around on a pivot chain driven into the dirt. The dogs are very well adapted to the weather there in Whitehorse, and they do sleep outside. It's still hard for me when I think about it, but I do know after spending ½ the day with Jeff and his wife that they love their dogs (all 110 of them), treat them well, and genuinely are part of their family. This is a business that takes some getting used to.
They run a bed and breakfast type business where you can go dog sledding in the winter, and in the summer, you can go canoeing. You stay at his home, which I will say is very rural, and his wife Manuela cooks some fantastic meals. While there, she cooked us a terrific lunch and topped it with a brownie and ice cream for dessert.
Dawson City, Yukon Territory ~ Bonanza Gold Motel and RVPark
All I can say is this, "the drive from White Horse to Dawson City was horrendous! We were on the road for over 10 hours, and the roads were atrocious! They were doing road construction in places that relied upon a pilot car, and sometimes the waits were at least 20-30 minutes. When the pilot car met us to lead us through the mess, it was pure gravel, with a lot of bumps, and it could be for 8-10 miles where we drove like this. When we arrived in Dawson City, Mark was exhausted, I was tired, and even Izzy was exhausted. We were all drained and ready for a nap!
Dawson City truly is in the middle of nowhere. Dawson City is a town on the Yukon River in Yukon, northwest Canada. A base during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush, the city has several preserved frontier-style buildings. They keep the town as primitive and natural as it was in the 1800s.
The population in this little town is about 1200 people. The Yukon River runs alongside the city and divides Yukon from West Yukon. The Canada Park Ranger leading our tour lived in West Dawson City and described what it's like in the winter.
She first told us that the Yukon River freezes; it freezes solid enough that you can drive cars on it. On summer days, a small ferry carries the vehicles back and forth. However, when the river freezes, the ferries can't run and it takes quite a few weeks before the river freezes solid enough to walk or drive across - this is where the problem comes in. So, in essence, the people in West Dawson City are stuck and live off-grid until they can have a reliable means to travel. The same problem occurs when the river starts to thaw, and they cannot drive over it resulting in the same isolation period.
Also, there is no city in West Dawson City; there are only dirt roads, cabins, and a lot of wilderness. It was fascinating to see when we drove through there. I could not live like that. Our tour guide told us she moved to Dawson City 24 years ago for a year and has never left, and she loves it!
We took in an event while there at a place called Diamond Tooth Gerties. Because of the long Gold Rush history, they do a can-can show which is fun to watch and very entertaining as you can see; Mark got his picture taken with the ladies of the evening! He looks pretty darn dapper if I say so myself.
We woke up the following day, boarded the ferry, and headed across the mighty Yukon River to start our trek to the USA border for Alaska. I was ecstatic and ready to reach some normalcy. Canada is beautiful, but I had enough of the metric system and was tired of not having access to the outside world. (Yes, I'm a glamper! I need to communicate!)
Tip #3 for Traveling to Alaska: Buy the Mile Post Book. This book is full of information that you will need and you will use. It's worth the money; you will thank me a million times!
Travel Tip #4 for Traveling through Canada: If you have Verizon Cellular, you will be limited on your roaming data. If you have AT&T, you will have unlimited roaming data. Check with your cell phone company before you leave the USA to understand how your plan works.