A Day in Atlin, BC

Atlin is having a tough time, there’s no question about that. Back in the early and mid ’90s I used to go there fairly regularly, both by myself and guiding groups on both day trips and overnighters. The ability to take large groups to Atlin ended when the Atlin Inn closed almost a decade ago, and my personal visits to the town get less and less frequent as shops and eateries close. An article in last Friday’s Yukon News, though, prompted a return to Atlin on Monday. It was just a short visit, but was enough to remind both Cathy and I how much we love the place. Even without much to do in town now, the area provides enough variety that a 3-day visit can just scratch the surface.

The views along the Atlin Road are enough to justify the drive.

While the Yukon News article reports that $5 million in highway construction funding was cancelled for the British Columbia portion of the highway, there’s a lot of money being spent on the Yukon side, which was in much worse condition. The worst stretches have already been chipsealed, and the work currently underway is going to make another big difference.

We unfortunately got off to a very late start and didn’t get to Atlin until a few minutes past 1:00pm. This is the first place I always go when I visit Atlin – the marina and float plane docks.

A couple of fellows from Whitehorse have recently bought the Atlin Inn and are renovating it. The restaurant is already open, and that’s where we would have gone for lunch except for the fact that it was too warm to leave the dogs in the car. We ended up at the Pine Tree, where 2 takeout deluxe burgers and 2 cans of Pepsi cost a few cents short of $42 (gas there is $1.289 per liter).

Ah, the hours I’ve spent in these 3 buildings, especially browsing antiques in the Garrett Store and attending musical and theatrical performances in the charming little Globe Theatre…

Three more of Atlin’s many interesting buildings – the late Dr. Brannigan’s “pyramid-power” holistic healing cente from the 1970s, the courthouse, and a private home with a “widow’s walk“.

Several years ago, Kershaw’s Hardware was renovated as a coffee shop. It was wonderful, but as I understand the story, it was so successful that the owners had to work much harder than they wanted so closed it down!

There were some people on the deck of the Tarahne, which gives me hope that the very successful special-event dinners on her are going to be re-started.

This gazebo was built in 1917 over a mineral spring, for use by clients of the original Atlin Inn, which had been built by the White Pass & Yukon Route, more famous for their Skagway-Whitehorse railway. It’s got quite a lean to it now (not apparent from this angle) and appears about ready to fall down.

After our look around town, we headed out Warm Bay Road – this is the view of the Llewellyn Glacier, which flows from the Juneau Icefield. A few years ago, we spent a very enjoyable weekend at the Glacier View Cabins a few hundred yards above this viewpoint.

This is the warm springs, at Km 24.3. Back in the 1920s it was several feet deep but it’s been allowed to fill in so it’s not quite waist deep now. I was surprised to find no other people there.

The vegetation around the spring is glorious.

Another couple of kilometers brought us to The Grotto, a creek that runs from an underground mineral spring.

A quick stop at Warm Bay, where we were going to run the dogs. There were too many people to allow the dogs off-leash so we continued on.

McKee Creek, one of the historically significant placer gold creeks.

The outflow of Palmer Lake.

Pine Creek Beach was a great place to run Monty and Kayla. It’s reached by a 5-minute walk from the parking lot at Km 4.3, which is also the trailhead for the Monarch Mountain Trail. Looking up the mountain, it’s hard to miss the Moore House B&B, the probable location of our next Atlin overnighter – what a spot! [Edit: it closed in about 2013]

We made a stop at Jenz, one of several eateries that have recently opened, for ice cream. There are certainly too many cafes/restaurants now for the available traffic, and some won’t survive – it’s a shame that that’s happened.

This spot on the road back to Whitehorse always stops me – one of the best views along the road.

A last look at the newest section of construction, just south of White Mountain.


A Day in Atlin, BC — 8 Comments

  1. I was in Atlin in the early 90s and there was a customs officer who also owned a restaurant living there… I’m wondering if anyone might know his name.. He was retired from the Canadian government.

    It was a very pretty place when I visited.. I remember my stay very well…

  2. Joe Fishburn~ His name was Lymon Sands, he has passed away, his son Sheldon Sands still owns the Pine Tree Gas station/restaurant.

  3. A big Hello Friend, I am writing from Fremantle, Australia. Thanks for the thoughtful article. It helped me a lot with my college cooking research 🙂