By jeep and roof tent by the Yukon - a road trip in Canada.By Elisa | On 25. Oktober 2018 take an adVANture · On October 25, 2018
Roadtrip Yukon, Canada. When you make your first steps on Canadian soil, you get the impression that this is the land of long beards, big cars, red checked check shirts, and the lonely wilderness. Of course that's a bit of a cliché for the first few lines, because Canada is just that, but actually so much more. Obvious, but sometimes hidden behind dense green. It stands for bears and moose, for legends and stories, for endless expanses and for road trips that are second to none anywhere else in the world. And believe me, I speak from experience.
Especially this deserted vastness did it to me during my road trip through the Yukon. To give you a sense of what I mean, let me juggle a few numbers: In Germany, nearly 83 million people come to 357,000 km². In the Yukon, there are a total of 38,000 people on 482,000 km ², an area of Germany, Austria and Switzerland together! A paradise for all outdoor people, road trip lovers, campers and ... for me.
Most of the nearly a dozen highways have only been around for a few decades. Lined right and left by dense forests, they lead to the horizon and maybe even a little bit beyond. Optionally with asphalt or coarse gravel under the big wheels, one feels here a freedom that conjures a fat grin with every new kilometer in the face - perfect for a tour in a jet black Jeep with roof tent and all Pipapo.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 3000 kilometers
- Klondike Highway
- Silver Trail
- Tombstone Territorial Park
- Dempster Highway
- Dawson City
- Top of the World Highway
- Kluane National Park
- Haines Highway
- Haines and Skagway
I absolutely did not expect that this area will enchant me so much. Fallen, yes, but that after more than a month I would reluctantly and with wet eyes fly the plane home home, that would not have occurred to me before the trip. The Yukon, whose slogan "Larger Than Life" sums it up, has everything that I sometimes miss so much in Germany. Here, nature is overpowering and shows people their limits - not the other way around.
So to see as much of the area as possible and to extend the outside time to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, take: A Jeep Wrangler, under whose hood six cylinders, almost 200hp and 3.6 liters of displacement with purring vigor. In addition, a roof tent, which can be opened after a few practiced manipulations within minutes. A stove here, a few dishes there and, most importantly, an ax for the many obligatory campfires. And et voila - you have the ingredients for a perfect road trip in the Yukon together.
Note: In the course of a cooperation I got the jeep from Overland Yukon a little cheaper. My opinion remains but as always unaffected.
The only traffic lights in the Yukon, anywhere between 15 and 18 in number, are in Whitehorse. That should be enough to explain the importance of the city in the far north of Canada. With about 28,000 inhabitants, it is the official capital, here everything is almost in abundance, which is sometimes in vain looking for while driving through the remaining hundreds of thousands of square kilometers. Crossroads, fresh bread, delicious coffee, good food, culture, sights ... the list can be extended by a few keywords.
A medium-sized city, somehow comparable to cities of the same size here, but still completely different. Whitehorse is the gateway to the Yukon, the start and end of many an adventure in the Canadian wilderness. Whether on foot, by bicycle, canoe or car. The city got its name from some rapids that looked like the mane of a galloping white horse. Until the middle of the 20th century a dam was built and the rapids were flooded.
There is a lot to see here, for every inclination and preference. Between the rows of houses still hide some relics of earlier days. The MacBride Museum of Yukon History tells a lot about history. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center is dedicated to exploring the Beringia region between eastern Siberia and the Yukon. In the Yukon Wildlife Preserve you can observe native animals up close and then warm up in the Takhini Hot Springs .
For those who prefer to sit outside, visit Miles Canyon , get some walking advice at the Visitor Center or go fishing at Fish Lake .
⇒ My recommendation: The most delicious fish and chips are available at Klondike Rib Salmon , breakfast is best enjoyed at the Alpine Bakery , coffee is served in the Baked Café and Mac's Fireweed Books invites you to browse for beautiful local travel stories.
⇒ For campers: Shower facilities for a few euros are available in the Airport Chalet , in the Canada Games Center or at the Robert Service Campground (you can get information in the Visitor Center). The Wolf Creek Campground is just a few miles out of town and is my personal getaway recommendation.
For the more adventurous: The Yukon Quest is a long-distance sled dog race that runs every year in February to approximately 1600 km between Fairbanks (Alaska) and Whitehorse. In turn, the Yukon River Quest is the world's longest canoeing and kayaking race, leading from Whitehorse to Dawson City in late June / early July.
Alone the name already reveals the origin of the highway. From Skagway (Alaska) to Dawson City, it runs parallel to the route the gold seekers used in the Klondike Gold Rush. At that time, associated with many hardships and deprivations, you can now watch the passing landscape from the inside of the car.
Divided into North and South, with Whitehorse as separation, it may not be one of the most spectacular roads the Yukon has to offer. But she is and remains a must-drive.
South Klondike Highway.
Shortly after Skagway the Klondike Highway slides up to the White Pass. A bit reminded me of the view of Patagonia or Norway, before then arrived at the top alpine flair. So why not stop here for a moment and enjoy the view a few kilometers on foot? The International Falls Hike would be my recommendation of the day. Before the Yukon welcomed me again with its memorable slogan, almost 60km of British Columbia followed, past lakes in the deepest blue on gray rock. In Carcross, the smallest desert in the world was waiting for me with the Carcross Desert , intense green on Emerald Lake and back in Whitehorse sunshine and beautiful autumn weather.
North Klondike Highway.
Towards the wilderness. Towards the north, the places become less, the petrol stations too, the country for that all the more. In between the Yukon cruises, meanders along the road, before he says goodbye and left me longingly. At Lake Laberge , I pondered the past week as Whitehorse couldoeed to Carmacks . At the Five Finger Rapids I figured out what it would be like to paddle along there. In Steward Crossing I turned right on the Silver Trail , also further north on the Dempster Highway . Until I finally landed in Dawson City and I was enchanted by a flair of Wild Wild West.
⇒ Tip: Campgrounds on the Klondike Highway (as well as the rest of the Yukon) are best found via WikiCamps Canada .
Trip must be. Therefore, it will never occur to me to get stuck on a planned route during a road trip. I would not necessarily call that a spontaneity, rather than a total lack of plan. And one of those planets was the Silver Trail, which was initially fortified, but soon leads as Gravel Road from the Klondike Highway to Keno City.
The clouds were low, the rain came and went every minute. In Keno City, whose name suggests more than the town really is, barely two dozen people live. I saw nobody of it. Instead, on the summit of Keno Hill, I formed the first snowball of the season and the Jeep got missed the mud look that lived up to its name.
In retrospect, I did not pay attention to the detour that Silver Trail deserves. On my next visit, I would like to swim at Five Mile Lake , watch moose in Devil's Elbow Wetlands , hike Keno Hill , talk to locals in Keno City , and talk to them about the seclusion of the small town.
Or: The Indian Summer in its full splendor! These colors, that special atmosphere, the clear air ... all this made my time in the Tombstone Territorial Park something unique. No matter which direction I looked in, it was a complete intoxication of the senses - and completely sober.
Almost 70 miles north of the entrance to the Dempster Highway begins the park, which has not only left me speechless once. Not that I'm one of those talkative people, but this time even my thoughts were quiet and quiet. With such a sight one can only talk in whispers, if one does not want to interrupt the magic that radiates the mountains and the nature.
The best way to experience nature on foot. On short and long trails, or even cross country (without disturbing the flora and fauna). Because then you are with the red and yellow at eye level and can not only look, but sometimes feel.
⇒ The Tombstone Territorial Park in the fall - a rush of colors. A detailed article with even more picture and text.
If I had to choose a favorite street in the Yukon, then I would not need to think long. The Dempster Highway has everything I need for a successful road trip. Beautiful nature right and left of the roadway; Gravel under the tires; a horizon that lets me go on and on and a story out of which (my) dreams are made.
The highway runs for almost 500km through the Yukon, another 270km to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. And since the end of 2017 there is even a year-round, almost 200km long extension to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean, which was previously drivable only in winter as Ice Road. Large parts of the highway follow an old dog sled trail of the eponymous corporal Dempster from the first half of the 20th century.
The permafrost here determines the condition of the track, which measures between 1.20 m and 2.40 m thick, leads through endless expanses and crosses the polar circle. Gigantic, breathtaking and adventurous are probably the adjectives that best describe the highway - if you can even put it into words. In the beginning, the boreal coniferous forests that dominate the view are soon followed by the mountains of the Tombstone Territorial Park, followed shortly thereafter by a kilometer-wide tundra. One should have time and enjoy every bump, every pothole and sometimes spinning tires. To put it in Margaret's words: "Those are journeys, ma'am, not destinations." (Margaret Landon).
I drove just 200 km on the gravel road, the remaining distance I have reserved for a new adventure. Because meanwhile an idea matures in my head, which is too crazy and complicated to put it into action ... to be continued.
⇒ Note: Refuel in time, either in Dawson City or directly at the intersection of Klondike Highway / Dempster Highway. The first and only gas station to the north comes only after half the distance in Eagle Plains.
"The generator on the back of the old pickup was humming steadily as small bags of gray dust were stuffed into the barrel of the air cannon. The more than two dozen people nearby, equipped with various beer cans, toasted cheerfully, some already with heavy tongue. It was followed by a soft bang, more like a deflagration, and dust and pouch scraps were carried into the sky over Dawson City. It was only after the second repetition that it dawned on me that I was attending a funeral and I noticed that I was a bit unfavorable in the wrong wind direction. So I knocked some dusty remnants of Bob out of my clothes and watched the spectacle from a safe distance. "
So that's what he was, my first impression of Dawson City. He could not have been more authentic and sympathetic at the moment. The city is not big, only about 1,800 people live here. But you have to share with thousands of tourists, with one exception, unpaved roads in the summer. What makes the place so special is its history and architecture, which has survived the last hundred years, in the spirit of the wild west, combined with the far north.
Dawson City is located directly on the tributary of the Klondike River in the Yukon River. And the Klondike River, in turn, is a river that wrote history, not just the place, but the whole Yukon. For here the first gold was found in 1896 and the subsequent Klondike gold rush was the basis for many heroic deeds, private tragedies and legends that lasted for decades.
The rows of houses in the city center still look exactly as they did then, when the gold rush had its short climax. Tastefully restored or adapted to the style of the time. Except for the shore road, all roads are unpaved, pedestrians have to dodge in the rain on the elevated wooden jetties. Offers for visitors are not lacking here. If you want, you can enjoy the famous Sourtoe cocktail at the Downtown Hotel, visit one of the nightshows at Diamond Tooth's Gertie's Gambling Hall and play a game or dig for gold at Claim No. 6 on Bonanza Creek . The Dawson City Music Festival takes place annually in July, but otherwise there are live music in country style in the bars.
⇒ Tips: Shower facilities in Dawson City are available for $ 2 and 6 minutes at Dawson City RV Park Campground. The most beautiful view over the city can be found at the Midnight Dome Viewpoint . And the ferry across the Yukon runs from May to October (when the Yukon is ice-free) for free at any time, with no timetable.
You do not feel like being on the roof of the world along the Top of the World Highway, but definitely like at the end. At 127km, a mix of asphalt and gravel leads through the vastness of the north, revealing views of sometimes snow-capped peaks.
"Only the road, the sun, the wind, and the rain,
And the watch fire stars, and sleep, and the road again. "John Masefield
Although not quite as spectacular as the Dempster Highway, I still enjoyed every kilometer. I am fascinated by such remote roads where you hardly meet people. Roads that are not perfect at all, with deep holes and humps. Where there are no signs and specify only a rough direction. For days I could be on their way and lose myself in various reveries. Romantic and emotional may be considered comparable to a poetry of the street.
Poker Creek - Little Gold Creek Border Crossing is the northernmost and highest international border crossing in North America, and probably the most scenic. There is nothing more to be said, except that the entry works fast and uncomplicated. The visa is here on arrival for 6 euros (cash in US $), even if one has already been granted ESTA (sometimes strike the computers on site). Here, the Top of the World Highway on the American side in the Taylor Highway and continues on Chicken to the Alaska Highway.
⇒ Note: As the Top of the World Highway is not cleared, it is closed during the winter months from late September to May, as is the border crossing to and from Alaska (open in the summer months from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm). A current overview of the road conditions can be found on the website Yukon 511 .
A national park that is not stingy with superlatives. Mount Logan (5,959m) is the highest mountain in the country, the largest park in the Yukon, and the Kluane Icefield is one of the largest contiguous glacier ice fields off the polar regions. And when you leave the facts aside, it's your own emotions that are exuberantly expressed on the ground. A big grin here, a "That's so crazy!" There and nothing else remains at the sight, just to stand there, to stare and to admire the immaculate beauty of our earth.
Actually, it was the pure sensory overload in continuous loop. In the morning, the glow of the fall colors, as if the mountain flanks were in flames. At noon, the white of the snow-capped mountains that blinded during a flight over the Kluane National Park in the eyes. And in the evening the sparkling of the water in Kluane Lake, while potatoes and baked beans over the campfire garden. If you want to write a declaration of love to nature, then the Kluane National Park would certainly be the place to be inspired.
⇒ More about the Kluane National Park, some walks and the flight will soon be available in a separate article.
Whenever you do not expect much, the most beautiful impressions, the most exciting discussions and the most interesting encounters arise. In terms of impressions, the trip along the Haines Highways from Haines Junction over the Chilkat Pass to Haines in Alaska was the absolute surprise. I expected nice views, a few mountains and maybe even a lake. I got all this and for a lot more I let the photos speak ...
Southbound, facing the sun, along the mountain ranges of Kluane Massif and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park. With a color noise for the senses of green over yellow, red and brown up to a flowing transition into the most beautiful snow-white. Since you can not help but to swarm, right?
Once again it is one of those moments when you feel small and insignificant at the sight of the mountains and the stories they could tell, but paradoxically you never want to be anywhere else.
⇒ On the Haines Highway, as everywhere in the Yukon, you should refuel if you can and not if you have to.
Haines and Skagway had a pretty tough start in my favor. While Haines managed to make me fall in love with the place after two days, Skagway was just a backdrop for me to stand anywhere in the world. Maybe it was due to my ignorance, maybe I just had too many pieces of my self distributed in the last 3000km.
Haines stands as a sleepy little place in front of a mountain panorama, which reminded me in its way to the southern end of Chile - like a reflection of the deep South of America. I walked the streets, bought pasta and gravy at the grocery store, ordered a cappuccino from the Rusty Compass Coffeehouse, and drank it in the sunshine. A feeling of vacation.
During the weeks in the Yukon, my bear sightings amounted to a total of zero. Not a single animal showed up on the roadside, on the riverbank or in the mountains. It was here in Haines, just below Chilkoot Lake on the Chilkoot River , that I was able to observe a multitude of them. Salmon fishing surrounded by seagulls and bald eagles. A paradise for photographers, which is by no means a secret anymore.
I can not tell much about Skagway. Except that you should set up your camp at the Dyea Flats and watch a beautiful starry sky.
⇒ Note: The car ferry between Haines and Skagway runs several times a week, but not daily. Timetables and booking options can be found on the Alaska Marine Highway System . If you want to be flexible and do not want to pre-book, then you can put yourself on the waiting list in the terminal. If there is still room for your vehicle at the next departure, nothing is in the way of the crossing.
⇒ Hiking: A beautiful, easy hike at Haines is the trek to Mt. Riley , through a dense fairytale forest.
⇒ Bear safety: I have posted a detailed article on bear safety in Canada , along with lots of bear content, on the blog.
I associate each of my trips with a special song. A song that accompanied me day in and day out or ran in one of those special moments. On a road trip through Turkey, it was the ear-boats with "Autobahn" , just past the border crossing on the way to Istanbul. In the desert in Israel, I danced barefoot to song fat with "Will you come with me ?" . During the nearly 1,200km straight through Norway and Sweden Razz kept me awake with "West to East" . And for the Yukon, it will probably be Caamp with "Vagabond" .
For what the area made up for me, I created a little playlist. To dream, optionally Mitgrölen with the window open. For the passing scenery in the side mirror, for the one point on the horizon, for the pure freedom ... And then there was this one song and I turned the volume control fully on ...
With various tips for a road trip through the Yukon and parts of Alaska, I will provide you soon in one of the next article. Until then, just click in the last post, in which I take you in word and picture in a canoe on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Carmacks . Or you can watch the Yukon in moving pictures - 3000km packed in 2 minutes.
Further reading on a Yukon road trip can be found on Kathrin von Miss Draußen ( Roadtrip through Alaska and the Yukon Routes, Costs, Tips ) and Kathrin and Kristin of Travelinspired ( Canada Delights Wilderness Wildlife ).