The Klondike Highway goes from Whitehorse to Dawson City.
We detoured to see Lake LaBerge, a magnificent 40-mile lake. They were launching boats that will monitor the Yukon River Quest, a paddling race from Whitehorse to Dawson City, that begins today. They paddle almost non-stop from Wednesday at noon to Friday afternoon, with one mandatory 7 hour rest and another 4 hour mandatory rest!!
As we drove, we saw Fox Lake along the highway, another beautiful lake. If we didn’t have a destination for tonight, the area at which we would have stopped to camp would be Twin Lakes Provincial Park – from the highway it looks phenomenal. Right around here, we hit 4000 miles for this trip!
We stopped for a picnic lunch at Five Fingers Rapids Recreation site. The 5 channels through rock pillars were a significant navigational hazard to anyone traveling up the Yukon River during the gold rush days. But viewed from land, they are spectacular! ?
In the distance, towards the west, we could see huge plumes of smoke from forest fires. There was no wind, so these pillars of smoke rose high into the sky and mushroomed out.
We drove through the main street of Dawson City and got right into line for the George Black ferry to cross the Yukon River. The ferry is an extension of the highway so it is free, however, depending on how many people/cars/RVs/trucks want to cross, it can take a while to get across. We were able to load up right away and the trip only took about 5 minutes!
While on the ferry, I answered many questions about our GO and saw people in other vehicles taking pictures!
Just on the other side of the river, we stayed at Yukon River Provincial Park. Some of the sites were right on the Yukon River, although our site was up the hill a bit. They have vault toilets, pump water (not potable) and free firewood. We set up our GO and CLAM. The low weight of the GO is such a benefit, when you want to totally turn it around for the best camping experience. This is the second time we’ve turned it more than 180 degrees, and it was not a problem for just the two of us (honestly, I’m not sure Jim really needed my help, but I like to feel like I contribute!) Also, can’t say enough about the BAL leveler. This site was extremely un-level, but it was not a problem at all – just a few cranks with the tongue jack front-to-back and a few cranks with the BAL side-to-side, and we were in business! Our site was beautiful and the view from our site was magnificent!
After setting up, we drove back (another ferry crossing) into Dawson City and stopped at the info center where we got maps of hikes and bike routes and what else was available in town. We drove around a bit. It seems like a ‘real’ old gold rush town, with dirt roads and boardwalk sidewalks. It’s small and homey and they have been refurbishing many of the old buildings to their original glory. They are side by side with old buildings in their original state, which for some is surprisingly pretty good and others about to fall down.
We picked up a to-go pizza from Joe’s Wood Fired Pizza (absolutely delicious pizza!!) and sat in a gazebo along the river to eat it.
Whether we’ve cooking a full breakfast or just having a simple breakfast of coffee and cereal, as on this day, we love the simplicity and easy clean-up of our Over Easy Kitchen.
We decided to take our bikes across on the ferry and ride along the river front path through town.
It doesn’t show up very well in the photo, but it was startling to see the change in water, where the clear, spring-fed Klondike River flows into the silty, glacial Yukon River.
We attempted to return along the mountainside path, but neither of us had the lung or leg capacity for that! So instead, we road up and down all the streets in town, checking out the old, the refurbished, and new buildings. As an aside, we have seen many, many people that are biking their way through Canada and the US!
Back at the info center, we took in a few historical movies about the area, the rivers and the mining. They were very well done and informative; we really enjoyed them. After a picnic lunch and ice cream, we returned to our camp.
In the afternoon, we drove back through town (we really like the ferry ride!!) and up Bonanza Creek Road to see the tailings from the mining and Dredge No. 4, the largest wooden hull bucket-line dredge in North America. What we found amazing is how nature takes back her own after being ravaged by mankind.
We then took Dome Road to Midnight Dome, the highest view point above Dawson City. There are a number of lovely wildflowers at the summit.
You can see the town and the rivers from Midnight Dome and on a clear day, you would be able to see distant mountain ranges. However, there was quite a bit of haze from the forest fire smoke. In this photo, it is easier to see the clear water of the Klondike River merging into the cloudy water of the Yukon River.
As usual, because the days are so long, we added in one more activity! Crossing back over the river, we drove up Sunnydale Road, to hike the Orchid trail. It was a peaceful 2 km hike through an aspen and spruce forest on top of permafrost. There are a couple of river views along the way, that show Dawson City from the other side, Dome Mountain behind it and the clearest view of the Klondike River merging into the Yukon River, and the Sternwheel Slough (where the paddleboats would sit out the winters when the river froze).
Unfortunately for us, the orchids start to bloom in the beginning of June, so by the time we were there, they were done – but I’m sure it had been spectacular!
After such an industrious day, Jim treated us to perfectly popped Jiffy Pop!!
Packed up the next morning. Have to say, we are really getting into a rhythm with this, especially when everything is dry. The GO packs up easily, we put in our panels (bed extension benches), there is a place for everything that travels in the deck (including the Over Easy kitchen), crank it down, put the bikes on top, hitch it up, and we’re off!