Cruising Yukon’s Endless Highways

Most people can’t wrap their heads around the sheer size of Yukon. It would be a massive undertaking to try and cover it all. Fortunately, it’s been broken down into bite-sized pieces perfect for road travel over an extended weekend or week-long stay. Numerous car and recreational vehicle rental agencies can pick you up from your short flight from Yukon’s gateway cities of Vancouver, Calgary, or Edmonton and get you on the road. If you’ve got the time, bring up your own vehicle or motorcycle and know that every precious kilometre was worth it.

The ever-popular, year-round Alaska Highway is the main artery in and out of Yukon. Constructed during World War II, it’s a carefree, smooth drive that connects Watson Lake to Beaver Creek. The communities of Teslin, Whitehorse, Haines Junction, and Burwash Landing are all well serviced and have their own unique qualities. Attractions en route include Teslin Lake, famed for fishing; Whitehorse’s colourful museums; and the natural splendour of Haines Junction and Kluane National Park.

If heading far north is your aim, the Dempster Highway is going in the right direction. Branching out from Dawson City, “the Dempster” is a 736 km unpaved road that passes through numerous mountain ranges and crosses the Arctic Circle en route to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The drive one way can generally take two to four days depending on road conditions and traveller preferences. It is essential to stop in the newly constructed Tombstone Park interpretive centre for some wildlife viewing tips and local history of the area. This scenic drive is wild, rugged, raw, and made up of unparalleled natural beauty. A few campgrounds along the way and one well-timed gas station make this a once-in-a-lifetime northern adventure.

If you don’t like to part with the ocean or the rugged coastline, try the Golden Circle Route. Departing from Whitehorse, you will come across emerald-coloured lakes, uniquely northern deserts, and alpine passes on your way to Skagway, Alaska. A stop in the historic town of Carcross offers a ride on the narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Route railroad to Bennett, a historic gold rush town. Next, catch a ride on the ferry to Haines, Alaska, where you will circle back through British Columbia’s Tatshenshini-Alsek Park and Yukon’s Kluane National Park. Choices are many, with campgrounds, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other driving-related infrastructure dotting the entirety of this route.

Other notable scenic drives include the Klondike/Kluane Loop, the Southern Lakes Circuit, the Silver Trail, and the Campbell/Canol Route. With so many options to choose, it might just be easier to jump into a van and let someone else take care of the details. Van tours and hotel round-trip packages are available on all of these routes through licensed Yukon tour operators.

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