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A Guide to the North Klondike Highway

by Murray Lundberg


A Guide to Alaska-Yukon Highways

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The North Klondike Highway as described here runs roughly from Whitehorse to Dawson City, a total of 520 kilometers (323 miles). Officially it is just the northern section of the Klondike Highway, Yukon Highway 2, but locally the southern section is often called the Mayo Road (its name 50-odd years ago), and in the highway guide The Milepost it's part of the "Klondike Loop".

The start of the North Klondike Highway is its junction with the Alaska Highway at that highway's Km 1436. On the North Klondike that is Km 191.7, or 191.7 kilometers (118.1 miles) from the ferry dock at Skagway, the official start of the Klondike Highway.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon For about 32 kilometers, the Alaska Highway and the Klondike Highway are the same road - from the Alaska Highway's junction with the South Klondike Highway to the junction with the North Klondike. Here at Km 1436 of the Alaska Highway is a rest area with some interpretive signs (see the text here), and just ahead, the junction with the North Klondike Highway.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon This attractive logo has been used on interpretive signs installed along the highway since about 2005.

Takhini River Bridge on the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 195.5: the highway crosses the Takhini River, which flows into the Yukon River a few hundred yards downstream from this point. The view is looking to the south.

The Yukon River along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 196.0: you get a quick look down the Yukon River as you climb the hill just north of the Takhini River Bridge, but there's unfortunately no place to pull off the highway to enjoy it.

Gunnar Nilsson and Mickey Lammers Research Forest, Yukon Km 197.4: the Gunnar Nilsson and Mickey Lammers Research Forest offers several kilometers of pleasant forest walks as well as 10 educational geocaches along or near the trail system. You can find more information and a trail map here.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view south from Km 208 in mid April, with the distance compressed by a telephoto lens.

Farm along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon The area just south of Lake Laberge is home to many of the farms in the Yukon. This was shot in mid April at Km 209.2.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view north from Km 214.9. The mountain is one of several along the highway that are composed of volcanic mud from flows 170-200 million years ago, when this area was under the sea - these mountains were islands at that time.

Sod farm along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon This farm at Km 216.5 grows landscaping turf (or sod). The photo was shot in late August.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view over Lake Laberge from a large new multi-acre-lot subdivision being developed (2012) by the local Ta'an Kwach'an First Nation. The access roads are at Km 220 and Km 220.7.

Winter on Lake Laberge, Yukon Turn on Deep Creek Road at Km 224.6 to reach Lake Laberge. This is the view from the Lake Laberge boat launch in mid April. Father Winter stays late here! The lake probably gets as much use in the winter by snowmobilers, skiers and mushers as it does during the summer by boaters.

Beaver Dam along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Beavers used to be very active in a little valley beside the highway at Km 229.7, but the complex seen here in 2002 has now been abandoned.

Fox Lake - North Klondike Highway, Yukon May 20th, and there's still ice on Fox Lake, the south end of which is seen here at Km 238.

Fox Lake Campground - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Fox Lake Campground at Km 247.7 is a Yukon government facility with 30 RV and 3 tent-only sites, as well as a kitchen shelter, drinking water and this boat launch, seen in late August.

Spring Ice on  Fox Lake - North Klondike Highway, Yukon The campground at Fox Lake was open on May 21st, but there wouldn't be any boating for a while yet.

Fox Lake - North Klondike Highway, Yukon The light has the colour of sunset, but this was shot along Fox Lake at 1:06pm on December 27th.

Fox Lake - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Fox Lake in late August, looking south from about Km 250.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon This culvert at about Km 250 has heating cables running through it to melt the ice that forms. A generator is parked and plugged in to these outlets to power them.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon Large forest fires burned from the north end of Fox Lake north in 1998 and again in 1999. In 2002 in particular (when this photo was shot), the fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) through this area brought photographers from all over North America and perhaps even further.

Fox Lake Burn in the winter - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Driving north through the Fox Lake forest fire zone in mid March 2005. Regeneration is extremely slow here - even some fire zones 50 years old show little re-growth. See the Yukon government's Driving the Fire Zone brochure for more information.

The Fox Lake forest fire zone - North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view south from near the north end of the Fox Lake fire zone, about Km 271, at 2:17pm on December 27, 2011.

Fall colors along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon These brilliant Fall colours were photographed at about the same spot as the photo above, on September 5th.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 272: the Fox Lake Burn rest area has outhouses and a short Boreal Fire Interpretive walking trail.

Four-wheeling above Braeburn Lake - North Klondike Highway, Yukon If you have a 4x4 or feel like a hike, some nice views over Braeburn Lake can be accessed from the gravel pit at the bottom of the hill at about Km 276.

Cinnamon Bun Airstrip - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 280.8: the huge cinnamon buns at Braeburn Lodge are famous, and the gravel air strip across the road was informally named because of the fact that many Whitehorse pilots fly up to the lodge when they're looking for a short pleasure trip.

Conglomerate Mountain - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 298: Conglomerate Mountain, 3,361 feet high, is another of the mountains created by volcanic mud flows, in this case 185 million years ago. The rest area here has some interpretive signs and a short walking trail.

Conglomerate Mountain - North Klondike Highway, Yukon A closer look at the volcanic mud or "puddingstone" that Conglomerate Mountain is comprised of.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon For much of its length, the North Klondike Highway is also part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The Old Dawson Road at Km of the North Klondike Highway, Yukon The original wagon road to Mayo and Dawson City, the Whitehorse to Dawson Overland Trail, can be seen and even driven with a car in many places along the North Klondike. This section is at Km 308, the Twin Lakes Campground. This road was used primarily in the winter, as steamboats offered much easier travel when the river was open.

The view north at Km 320 of the North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view north at Km 320.3 in late August.

Montague Roadhouse - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 322.4: the Montague Roadhouse offers a glimpse at what life would have been like for people travelling the Overland Trail in the very early 1900s. This was one of the grandest of over 50 roadhouses along the road.

Montague Roadhouse - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Unfortunately only the shell of the Montague Roadhouse remains - the roof caved in decades ago. Historic photographs on several interpretive signs show the way it used to look (see the text here), as well as some of the horse-drawn sleds and wagons used in the early days, and some of the difficult river crossings.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view north at Km 328 in late September.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view north at Km 336 in mid September.

Swans and other waterfowl along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Migrating Trumpeter swans and other waterfowl on a roadside pond at Km 348.1 in late August.

Yukon River Bridge - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 356.8: the highway crosses the Yukon River at the village of Carmacks. At the spot where this photo was taken is a small parking area and a 3.7-km-long trail to Coal Mine Lake.

Frozen Yukon River at Carmacks - North Klondike Highway, Yukon The frozen Yukon River at Carmacks in mid-March, looking down-river. For the many people who canoe from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Carmacks is the half-way point.

Junction of Campbell Highway and North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 359.1: at the north end of Carmacks is the junction with the Campbell Highway, Yukon Highway 4, which leads east to Faro, Ross River and eventually back to Watson Lake on the Alaska Highway. Ahead, the highway climbs around Tantalus Butte.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon Looking back down at the Campbell Highway junction and, in the distance, the Yukon River Bridge, from the slope of Tantalus Butte.

Tantalus Butte Coal Mine, Yukon Although the access road (starting from the highway halfway up the hill) isn't passable by large vehicles, the ruins of various coal mining operations provide some interesting hiking on Tantalus Butte. The final mining operation closed in 1982. See The Tantalus Butte Coal Mine for more information about the mines.

Tantalus Butte Coal Mine, Yukon There are roads, trails, tunnels and other mining artifacts all over the south slope of Tantalus Butte.

Cliffside Agate Trail - North Klondike Highway, Yukon At about Km 368 is the Cliffside Agate Gem & Mineral Trail. Deposits of geodes and other forms of agate can be found down the narrow, winding road about half a mile from the highway, and small augite crystals can also be found along the road.

The snowy North Klondike Highway at night Km 379.7: descending the hill to the Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site after an overnight snowfall, at 9:00am on November 23rd. At the time, I was driving an empty bus to Dawson City to pick up some school kids for a weekend tournament in Whitehorse.

Five Finger Rapids - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 380: the view from the deck at the Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site. For those who want a close look at the rapids, 219 stairs take you down to a 1-km trail to another viewing deck directly above the river.

Five Finger Rapids - North Klondike Highway, Yukon There were lots of forest fires throughout the Yukon and Alaska in 2004, and this photo from mid July that year at Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site shows what that can do to visibility.

Yukon River at Tatchun Creek - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 380.7: the view of the Yukon River as you descend the hill to Tatchun Creek.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The Yukon River at the mouth of Tatchun Creek. When this photo was taken in 2003 it was a very popular recreation and salmon fishing spot, but the land was given to the local First Nation (Indian band) a few years later and is no longer available to non-Natives.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 394.8: sunset at Yukon Crossing, named for the fact that the Overland Trail crossed the river here. This was shot in late August at 9:03pm.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The same sunset as above, looking across and down the Yukon River.

Minto Landing - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 429.9: a paved side road leads about a kilometer to the former site of Minto Landing, an important stop on both the Yukon River and the Overland Trail. A First Nation cultural camp has been built there in recent years.

Ferry at Minto Landing - North Klondike Highway, Yukon This private ferry at Minto Landing takes vehicles across the Yukon River to and from the Minto Mine, a copper and gold operation that ships its ore by truck to Skagway, Alaska, and from there to processors by ship.

The view south from Km 432 on the North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view down the Yukon River valley to the south from Km 432.

Pelly Crossing, onn the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 465: this viewpoint over the Pelly River and the village of Pelly Crossing has interpretive signs and this monument installed in 1967, Canada's centennial year. The text says: "Pelly River. Named in 1840 by the explorer Robert Campbell for a governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Pelly River later became the final stage of an overland route from Edmonton to the Klondike charted by Inspector John Moodie of the Mounted Police in 1897-98. In 1898, the Yukon Field Force marched 500 miles to the Pelly from Glenora, B.C. to reinforce the police in the Yukon."

RV traffic on the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Heavy traffic, even using "heavy" in the Yukon sense, is rare enough on the North Klondike to be worthy of a photograph - this was shot in early July in an old forest fire burn area a few miles north of Pelly Crossing.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The highway right-of-way was greatly widened in a project over many years starting in about 1995. These piles of trees and brush seen just south of Stewart Crossing in late August 2007 would be burned during the winter.

Crooked Creek Bridge on the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 519.7: the wooden-decked bridge across Crooked Creek, a small stream which The Milepost reports can be fished for Arctic grayling and Northern pike.

Visit Mayo sign - North Klondike Highway, Yukon This sign as you drop down the hill to Stewart Crossing encourages travellers to visit the historic mining community of Mayo. It no doubt intrigues many people – “The Hottest and the Coldest Spot in the Yukon”? Imagine living where the annual temperature range can be from +97F to -80!!

Interpretive sign along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 534: this sign at the rest area at Stewart Crossing describes the history of the road from Mayo to Whitehorse.

Cat Train on the Old Dawson Road The "good old days" on what is now the Silver Trail from Stewart Crossing to Mayo and Keno City!

North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 535: the Stewart River Bridge at aptly-named Stewart Crossing. At the far (north) side of the bridge, you turn left to continue to Dawson City on the North Klondike Highway, or turn right to go to Mayo and Keno City on the Silver Trail, Yukon Highway 11.

The Stewart River Bridge on the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Looking south across the Stewart River and bridge.

Rest stop along the North Klondike Highway, Yukon Km 551: this large rest area has interpretive signs (see the text here) and limited access to the river.

Moose Creek Lodge - North Klondike Highway, Yukon One of the last of the many lodges that used to serve travellers along the North Klondike is Moose Creek Lodge at Km 558.5 - a good photo op as well as offering excellent food and a large gift shop.

Moose Creek Lodge - North Klondike Highway, Yukon Moose Creek Lodge is much quieter in the winter - this photo was shot in late November at 11:05am.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view north from Moose Creek Lodge.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The silent beauty of the central Yukon in the winter - this was shot in late November at 10:27am.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon The view north from the Tintina Trench Rest Area at Km 655.1. There's a wonderful broad view, and several interpretive signs (see the text here).

Klondike River, Yukon The highway runs alongside the Klondike River for many miles.

Dredge tailings near Dawson City, Yukon As you near Dawson City, you'll see large piles of gravel on both sides of the highway. These are tailings from the huge dredges that clawed their way through this region in search of gold. They can best be understood from the air, as in this view from Google Earth.

North Klondike Highway, Yukon This bridge over the Klondike River at Km 712.4 signals your entry to Dawson City, the historic "City of Gold". As many times as I've been there (well over 100), I still get a thrill from it.


All photos are © 1998-2017 by Murray Lundberg, and are not to be reproduced without permission.