Northern British Columbia and Yukon Territory
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 21, 2012 11:04 AM Last Post By: thoughtpolice
Nov 15, 2012 11:57 AM
I’m planning to go for a road trip to northern BC and Yukon territory next summer for approx. 2 months
We are taking our tent/van to be as much independent as possible.
We love the nature, and would like to see as much as possible wildlife and scenic places.
We love to hike as well.
Could you please recommend me the places to go, routes to drive, hikes to take?
Any suggestions will be welcome.
We are taking our dog with us – are there any parks where we can’t take him with us?
Nov 15, 2012 10:23 PM
Sounds like you're planning a fantastic vacation for next summer. Here's a short list (and certainly not all-inclusive) of some 'must-see' places.
o Liard Hot Springs - Right on the Alaska Highway. In a provincial campground, perfect overnight stop.
o Montana Mountain - Carcross - Mountain Biking, Hiking, Mining History
o Dempster Highway/Arctic Circle - Amazing scenery. Was unglaciated during the last ice age. Stunning!
o Dawson City - Can you really come to the Yukon and NOT go to Dawson? Definitely a 'must'.
o Miles Canyon - Whitehorse - Yukon River, Gold Rush history, connects to extensive trail system around Whitehorse
o Annie Lake Road - More amazing scenery. Just south of Whitehorse.
o Skagway, Alaska - The starting point for the prospectors who came up during the Klondike Gold Rush.
o Any Territorial Campground. The Yukon has some great ones.
o Five Finger Rapids - North Klondike Highway - Another part of gold rush history. Has a nice walking trail that goes down for some great river views.
If you want to get word out to a larger audience of Yukoners, our website has a free membership option and you can post your question in our Notes & News section or you can look up Yukon, North of Ordinary on Facebook.
Have fun planning your trip!
Nov 16, 2012 10:56 AM
2You are really going to enjoy your adventure.
Where are you from and where will you begin your adventure? (I.e. are you landing in Vancouver and driving from there?)
You will probably want to base your adventures in Yukon from Whitehorse. If you are young international travelers, you will find lots more folks to trade tales with at the Robert Service Campsite not to far outside downtown Whitehorse, on the banks of the Yukon River. It's mostly for backpackers, but there are some parking places for campers and vans.
YukonMagaizine has some excellent recommendations. Several of them can be tied together -- so look at a map when you re-read the recommendations. And if you are heading up the Dempster for any distance and enjoy hiking, consider walking in to Grizzly Lake. It's about 60 K up the Dempster and a good long day's hike in (maybe 6 or 7 hours) — you would have to take overnight gear, even a strong hiker would be unlikely to walk in and out in a single day. Google it.
For hiking, however, Kluane National Park in Yukon has almost endless possibilities. It has the highest peaks (but one) in North America. It has the highest concentration of grizzly bears and holds the largest icefields and glaciers south of the Arctic Circle -- in the world.
The gateway village is Haines Junction, which is a couple of hours' drive from Whitehorse. There are many day hikes into the front ranges, trails that can take days, routes that can take weeks in pretty total wilderness. I hiked the meadows behind Goatherd mountain to the Lowell Glacier two summers in a row, and the wardens told us the three of us were the only party in there over two years. Another year we hiked the Donjek Route and in 10 days saw only one other party. Do NOT miss Kluane.
While you are in that area you might want to drive the "Haines" Road down to Haines Alaska -- as you drive the Chikat Pass it runs above timberline. Along the Haines Road you will pass the trailhead to the Samuel glacier. This is a very well delineated hike that will give you neat views over the Samuel and should only take a few hours each way.
Northern BC is no less beautiful. The north coast has a wonderful, misty haunting beauty you will never forget. The little fishing city of Prince Rupert can be reached by the highway and still retains much of the same qualities of the fishing villages of SE Alaska. If you go, don't miss the North Pacific Cannery museum. The drive between Prince Rupert and Terrace is wonderful -- you follow the banks of the Skeena River as it carves its way through the Coast Mountains to the North Pacific.
The Alaska Highway from Prince George goes past Pink Mountain and is scenic. The other highway north is the Stewart-Cassiar, which is now entirely paved, yet will give you a real sense of the vastness of the province. It is worthwhile taking one route north and the other route south.
On the Stewart-Cassiar (Hwy 97), you should take the side trip to Stewart. It is a "twin" city with Hyder Alaska, and a short side trip will take you along the Salmon River up high above the Salmon Glacier. You will drive the old mining road ABOVE the body of the glacier for miles until you reach the point where you can see the icefields in all directions. It's much more impressive than the better-known Columbia Icefields.
I take my dog everywhere with me. Sometimes I imagine I'm breaking a rule. Bad me.
Nov 16, 2012 4:03 PM
3You've received some very good advice so far.
My two favourite areas in the Yukon are Tombstone and Kluane. In Northern BC, Stewart / Hyder is definitely worth the detour. Watson Lake is horrid.
2 months is quite a lot of time for just northern BC & the Yukon. I'd highly suggest you catch a ferry to Juneau and/or Sitka from Haines and spend some time there as well at the very least. Juneau has some absolutely amazing hikes (when the weather cooperates) - some of the best in all of North America. Has some very good campgrounds as well.
Even better is to take the ferries all the way down to Prince Rupert from Haines/Skagway (stopping along the way, of course). Much more dramatic scenery, way more hikes, and far more varied than the two inland road routes. IMO there's not much difference between the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and the Alaska Highway, just lots of trees with the occasional highlight worth stopping for. Going along the coast for one direction will give you something very different and is well worth the slightly higher cost.
Nov 16, 2012 7:13 PM
4Anyone who thinks the Cassiar and Alaska Highway routes are similar has not taken the drive outside Hyder, which is a real highlight no matter how jaded you might feel. The Alaska Highway is comparable only if you're traveling by way of the parks in the Canadian Rockies. And I respectfully disagree about the relative merits of the Marine Highway compared to the two road routes, having taken all three more than once. There's plenty of variety and absolutely limitless hiking on any of the three routes.
Not to nitpick: but among all the worthy information in #2 I found the very curious statement, "holds the largest icefields and glaciers south of the Arctic Circle -- in the world." Not true: there are Antarctic glaciers far larger, and there is at least one larger glacier right next door in Alaska--probably more than just one, but I'm too lazy to look it up. Furthermore, the veracity of the claim of "largest icefield" depends entirely on technical distinctions between icefields, ice caps, and ice sheets. Much of the Greenland ice cap lies south of the Arctic Circle, for example, and it features some huge glaciers as well.
Nov 16, 2012 8:02 PM
5As I said, Stewart / Hyder is worth the detour.
Doesn't change that the majority of both the Alaska Highway & Cassiar Highway takes you through rolling forested terrain with occasional views. There are some differences between those two routes (I'd say the Cassiar is slightly better overall), but relative to how different the coastal route is, they're practically the same. The coast is much more rugged, wetter, developed, etc, thus I stand by my claim that driving one way and taking the ferry the other way gives you more variety than driving both ways.
There's very little in the way of well-established hikes on the inland routes. The potential is limitless if you want to bushwhack, but if you want established routes then there are many more options along the coast.
Nov 17, 2012 12:27 PM
You're a little confused there, the Dempster Hwy goes from Dawson City to Inuvik. The Dalton Hwy goes Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.
The Dempster is a stunning drive and well worth the trip- but only to the Peel River. You can just turn around there and come south, the route from there is not particularly interesting and both Ft MacPherson and Inuvil are shitholes.
I drive both the Alaska and Stewart Cassiar highways every summer, and really they are quite comparable. Both are in good shape, Both have streches of lovely scenery, though perhaps the SC has the edge. The AK highway north of Liard always has plenty of animals on or near the road, the SC seems to have mostly bears and plenty of them. Coin flip! Take one route up and the other down.
Nice drive is a big circle Whitehorse to Skagway, ferry to Haines(very short), through Kluan and back to Whitehorse. Some great scenery, fishing, campgrounds on that trek.
If you'd like a wee adventure, drive the Robert Campbell Hwy from near Watson Lake to Carmacks. Not many people take this drive which gets into some real wilderness, also seen loads of animals on that road.
Better yet, rent a canoe in Whitehorse for the 700 km drift down the Yukon River to Dawson City. The paddling is not challenging and the trip is terrific. You can camp on islands and sandbars the whole way, and arrive calm and relaxed and rested.
Nov 19, 2012 12:52 PM
Nov 21, 2012 11:04 AM
8went halibut fishing last summer in Valdez. We struck out with weather one day but caught ur limit of delicious hailbut in 2 hours the next day.
It is about $300/day per person but well worth it this time. Salmon were also running but diffirent boats and gear used, you don't fish for both off the same boat.
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
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