The Alaska Highway


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Published: May 29th 2013
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“Get your motor running,
head out on the highway,
Looking for adventure
in whatever comes our way.”




(Steppenwolf, Born to Be Wild)




I don’t think they were singing about “the Alaska Highway”… but they should’ve been.



Our goal was Muncho Lake. To get there, we were taking the Alaska Highway and we were excited! The Alaska Highway runs from Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, AK, and passes through Whitehorse, YT. (Whitehorse, our starting point, is about 2/3 of the way from Mile 0, at Dawson Creek.)

The Alaska Highway was completed in 1942, and was approximately 2700km (1700 miles) long, but is now 2232 kms (1387 miles) long, thanks to some rerouting and straightening of the highway, over the years.It’s original purpose was to connect Alaska to the “Lower 48″, but it didn’t make it through BC (although, some people consider it to be a portion of the Pan-American Highway, which goes all the way to Argentina.)What shocked me the most is that this super famous highway has MILES of gravel. Google sites say that it’s paved over its entire length, and maybe that was true at some point, and maybe it’s in a state of pre-repair, but (at least when we were driving it) there are, in fact, miles of gravel road.

Our first stop, not including bathroom breaks, was the Continental Divide Lodge, in Swift River, Yukon. It’s on Historic Mile 721 on the Alaska Highway. (By the way, http://www.milepost.com/highway_info/alaska_highway gives an almost mile by mile outline of what you might see along the way, and where there are places to stop… this is important, way out there on the open highway – where you might actually see no civilization for days…)We didn’t stay there (we were just stopping for a bathroom break, and for everyone to just get out of the car…and to reload our snack supplies.) However, the Lodge is open 7 days a week, 7am-8pm, May to September (weather and roads permitting.)

The Lodge offers a restaurant, a pub, a campground, free showers (if you are camping, which also have full-hookups) and $5 showers if you aren’t staying there, but really need a shower (again – long gaps between civilization), playgrounds, marshmallow roasts, dog walking, and laundry facilities.

It is actually AT the Continental Divide - the watersheds are the Yukon River (which eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean) and the Mackenzie River (which eventually empties into the Arctic Ocean.)

Sometime before we arrived at the Continental Divide Lodge (in the Yukon), we passed over the border into B.C… then back into Yukon…where we stayed until we reached Watson Lake, YT (Historic Mile Post 635).

Watson Lake is the “Gateway to the Yukon”, and has a population of around 1200. It is the home of the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre. Did you know that both Northern and Southern hemispheres both have the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)? Well, except…ummm….in the Southern hemisphere, they are called the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis)…



Watson Lake is also home to the just-as-spectacular (?) Sign Post Forest. Started in 1942, a homesick U.S. Army G.I. nailed up a sign, pointing the way home. In 1990, the 10,000th sign went up, and the last number I could find is 2002 at 49,777, and include signs from all over the world.


On Sunday, we’ll continue our journey from Watson Lake, on to Muncho Lake.


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