The majority of the Alaska Highway ventures through Canada: 613 miles in British Columbia and 577 miles in Yukon Territory, presenting brilliant scenery. The sparsely populated towns along the way can be welcome respites from the remoteness most of the roadway holds. Some offer unique appeal to weary travelers. Here are five amazing things we saw on the Alaska Highway:
1. Muncho Lake
You can’t help but see this beautiful body of water in British Columbia as the Alaska Highway meanders right next to it starting around mile 436. Getting to Muncho Lake involves navigating the summit of Stone Mountain, known for Stone sheep and sudden weather changes.
What makes this lake impressive is its stark greenish-blue water (which our camera didn’t capture) and the fact that it’s one of the largest natural lakes in the Canadian Rockies. Camping options are available along the water. Because it was raining and a Canadian holiday weekend when we went through, we didn’t stop.
2. Liard River Hot Springs
Located at mile 471, Liard River Hot Springs in British Columbia has been attracting visitors to its naturally heated pools since well before the construction of the Alaska Highway. Today, the springs are protected and operated by the Kootenay Forest Services and are well worth a stop.
Having left Dawson Creek on a Saturday, we booked a campsite at the hot springs for Monday so we could take our time getting there. Because of expected rain in the area on Monday, we drove farther than originally planned on Sunday and arrived at about 6 p.m. to find a very full campground.
We parked in overflow parking, paid $26 (Canadian or American; there’s no exchange rate here) for an additional night, and were granted access to the springs.
A nearly half-mile boardwalk over a marshy area takes visitors to the Alpha pool, where the warmth of the water varies. It’s hottest where it enters the pool and coolest at the other end. The temperature isn’t evenly regulated from top to bottom. Heat comes in waves, and you can often feel cool water on your feet.
Across the street from the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park is Liard Hot Springs Lodge and RV Park, which features a restaurant and Wi-Fi (for a fee). Although primitive (with no hookups), camping at the provincial park includes access to the springs in its nightly fee.
If you don’t want to spend the night, you can still enjoy the springs for a $5 per-person day-use fee.
3. Sign Post Forest
At mile 612 in the town of Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, you’ll find a truly unique tourist attraction that dates back to the time of the creation of the Alaska Highway. When one of the engineers was sent to the Watson Lake area to recover from an injury and assigned to repair and repaint directional signs, he felt homesick. So, he added a sign to his hometown of Danville, Illinois, to an existing signpost.
As others on the Alaska Highway came upon the signs, they decided to add their own as well, and Sign Post Forest was born. Today, it features more than 100,000 signs in all shapes and sizes.
We showed up prepared. South Dakota sent us a new license plate this year as the state changed the color of “South Dakota” on its plates. So, we took our old GULIVER plate and posted it in a prominent spot atop one of the numerous posts. You’ll have to see if you can find it if you’re ever there.
4. Kluane Lake
At about mile 1,001, a magnificent, 50-mile-long lake — Yukon’s largest — comes into view. The highway skirts Kluane Lake, offering scenic turnouts for photo opportunities of the expansive body of water against the backdrop of the Kluane Ranges mountains.
We were privileged to spend a chilly night in this area, basking in God’s amazing beauty around us. We walked down to the lake and put a hand in. The water was quite cold, as we expected, since a thick layer of ice still covered much of it.
Part of the excitement of driving the Alaska Highway is seeing wildlife along the way. I got excited every time we happened upon an animal in its natural habitat. (Somehow, I don’t think the feeling was mutual.)
We were thrilled when we spotted a family of four bears (a mama and three cubs) out for a Sunday picnic. A little later, we saw another mama bear with a single cub.
Driving through the Stone Mountain summit pass lined by rocky cliffs, we caught sight of a Stone sheep but didn’t have time to take a picture. As we journeyed on, a mama bison and her calf crossed the highway in front of us. Before much longer, we encountered a herd of bison on the side of the road. At Liard River Hot Springs, a moose cut across the boardwalk as we approached.
We also ran across a deer, another moose, more bears, more bison, a porcupine, and a bald eagle. Oh, and we can’t forget Alaska’s “state bird,” the mosquito.
We’re grateful for the opportunity to drive the Alaska Highway and for all the beauty we got to behold on our journey. We are truly blessed.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.