Alaska Highway: Dawson Creek to Whitehorse

Matt Bossons’ continued travels through Canada’s north

By Matt Bossons

When you turn onto the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, you will notice things begin to change very quickly.

First, the trees become shorter–and for a while at least–the landscape becomes stunningly similar to the prairies.

A beautiful display of street art found in a back alley of downtown Whitehorse. The artwork contains heavy First Nations influences and is one of many such pieces around town. Matt Bossons // The Runner

You’ll see moose crossing signs every few kilometres, and on occasion, a dead moose carcass laid beside the road by a speeding motorist.

If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of a live moose, bear, bison or caribou. If you are really fortunate you may even spot a lynx.

What really makes the drive special is the stunning mountain vista, especially through the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding foothills. Snow-capped peaks rise high above the landscape; roaring rivers and calm creeks snake their way through the mountains bringing life to the valleys below.

The Liard River Hot Springs are undoubtedly the gem of northeastern British Columbia. The hot therapeutic waters beckon the weary traveller to take a dip. Be forewarned: you may come out smelling like rotten eggs, courtesy of the waters high sulphur content.

Once you leave the hot springs the next stop of interest is the Yukon border and the town of Watson Lake.

Watson Lake’s claim to fame is the signpost forest, which boasts a collection of over 70,000 signs from all over the world. The site was started by an American serviceman during the construction of the Alaska Highway in the early 1940s. You can wander for hours through the rows of tall wooden posts, covered in signs from top to bottom–you’re sure to see a sign that hits close to home.

After Watson Lake, it’s a beautiful drive to Whitehorse, which is the capital of the Yukon Territory. The city is home to 26,418 full time residence, according to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics June 2010 report.

When in Whitehorse it’s essential to visit the S.S. Klondike, a steamboat from the late 1930’s, which is a National Historic Site of Canada.

Other highlights of the city include the historic waterfront trolley and the Old Log Church Museum.