A night on the Top of the World Highway, and back to Dawson

It’s taken me a while to get back to finish off this pair of posts – I had an antiques-and-collectibles yard sale to get ready for, and that took all the energy I had. Spitty rain caused me to leave the sale after only an hour, but it was a productive hour. The way I felt after that hour, it’s not likely I could have lasted 4 hours anyway.

Anyway, back to Dawson!

We left the Yukon River Campground at about 2:00 pm on Wednesday (August 19th). A sign as soon as we turned on to the Top of the World Highway reminded us that the highway is closed until further notice at the Canada/USA border just past the summit.

Top of the World Highway - closed due to COVID-19
The weather was erratic on the way up. A sign and blockage of half the road just past the Sixtymile Road prompted Cathy to say “if the road is closed, we’re not going.” Yeah we are. 🙂

Top of the World Highway - closed due to COVID-19

By 3:30 we were set up at the large parking lot right at the summit of the highway, 104 km from the campground at Dawson.

Freedom! for the pups up top. With no people within miles and unlimited visibility, this is about as safe and as much fun as a dog can have.

A little climb up to the summit cairn resulted in this view of the Customs posts to the west. The Canadian post was given the community name Little Gold Creek, and the American post is called Poker Creek.

The view to the west from the summit of the Top of the World Highway

The Canadian and American Customs pasts just west of the summit of the Top of the World Highway

Fall is very close, and colours have just started to change, but the particularly hardy Mountain hare bell (Campanula lasiocarpa) still looked great. A very strong wind across the open ridge made flower photography a challenge.

Mountain hare bell (Campanula lasiocarpa)
Berries are abundant. We saw a family picking blueberries in what looked like a commercial way about halfway up the highway.

Berries at the summit of the Top of the World Highway
The weather was threatening all around us but our sky remained clear. Just after 7:00 pm I shot this particularly impressive storm to the south. The forecast for clear skies and very warm certainly isn’t what we got.

Storm at the summit of the Top of the World Highway

At about 8 pm, the light was gorgeous and I took the kids for a final walk. Went about a km, was about done when I got back. Bella took off after ptarmigan, which were already white. She was great about coming when I called after spotting her far below me. Back in the rig, every time I looked out, I half expected to see a herd of caribou. Right behind Customs are trails that look like they’ve been well travelled for hundreds of years.

I was up a couple of times during the night checking for a forecast aurora display, but had no luck. At 02:20 we had clear skies, and strong winds. At 05:30, it was mostly cloudy. At 08:00 when I shot the next photo, we had heavy fog, rain, a strong wind, and 6°C. I let Bella and Tucker out for their morning pee by themselves, and they didn’t dawdle 🙂

My dogs in fog and rain at the summit of the Top of the World Highway
We had a lazy morning, napping and reading and waiting for better weather. At 09:30 it cleared quite suddenly but the measured wind speed was 35 mph, gusting to 52, and it was still only 8°C. Not at all pleasant for getting out.

Lazy dogs in the RV, waiting out bad weather
Just before noon, we packed up and started back down the highway towards Dawson, with no real plan for the day.

Looking towards Dawson from the summit of the Top of the World Highway
Back at the Yukon River Campground at 1:00, we got site #46 this time, right on the river.

Yukon River Campground, site #46

Thursday was a very quiet day. All we did was go into Dawson for a fabulous meal at The Drunken Goat Taverna. We bought waaay too much food so there would be plenty of leftovers.

Back from The Goat, I started a campfire, but our snuggle didn’t last very long – the bugs were too bad. Some little things that don’t bite but are very annoying. “Smoke bugs,” some say.

Snuggling with my little dog in front of the campfire
Friday noonish – Bella and Cathy have an understanding that picnic tables are perfect for grooming. Bella loves being fussed over and is a wonderful “client.” 🙂

My dog Bella geting groomed on a picnic table.
With Bella all cleaned up, we went for a drive with the dogs – back across thew ferry and up the Midnight Dome. The next photo looks over the industrial area from halfway up.

The view down the Yukon River from the summit of the Dome.

The view down the Yukon River from the summit of the Midnight Dome.
Back at the campground, I threw a big steak on the barbecue to add to our leftovers from The Goat.

Barbecuing a steak at the Yukon River Campground
How’s that for a “roughing it” camping meal? Yuuuum!

A deluxe RV dinner the Yukon River Campground

RV life at the Yukon River Campground

We had decided to leave Dawson at around noon on Saturday to allow 2 days to get home. Before leaving I got a few photos of some changes at the campground, notably this very expensive-looking new playground equipment.

Very expensive-looking new playground equipment at the Yukon River Campground
The photo wander went further than I’d planned, over to the ferry landing. This heritage sign about West Dawson s one of the remaining ones from a series installed in the 1960s and early ’70s. “West Dawson was settled c.1899 by people wanting to avoid overcrowding and typhoid outbreaks in Dawson. Farms also became established and later as mining in the Sixtymile area increased, a link with Dawson became necessary. In 1902 a ferry guided by a cable began operating. This cable was supported by a 37 metre tower which provided clearance for the riverboats.”

Heritage sign about West Dawson, Yukon
As the river level goes up and down, the ferry landing has to be modified, using this Cat on the west side.

Cat at the West Dawson ferry landing.
Waiting for the ferry just after noon. Cathy drove the Tracker so we could do a bit of running around in Dawson, including picking up some gear to take back to Whitehorse for a friend there.

RV waiting for the ferry at West Dawson.
Below is a compilation of 5 videos of the ferry George Black that I shot on August 21 and 22. The first half is hand-held as we were in the ferry lineup and loading/unloading, the second half is tripod mounted at the West Dawson side. Clicking on te image below will open its Youtube page in a new window.

Ferry George Black at Dawson City, Yukon
We went to the Farmers’ Market and picked up some eggs and jams.

Farmers' Market in Dawson City, Yukon

Farmers' Market in Dawson City, Yukon

On the way down from The Dome the previous day, I spotted this modified crosswalk sign at the cemeteries but hadn’t gotten a photo. I drove back up to rectify that.

A modified crosswalk sign at Dawson, Yukon
On the road by about 1:30, I only drove as far as Moose Creek. Our first stop was at the historic Moose Creek Lodge to pick up some of Maja’s wonderful pastries for the rest of the road trip.

Historic Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon
Moose Creek Campground was pretty much empty (as usual), and I got my favourite site, #20, at the furthest end of the campground from the highway.

Moose Creek Campground, site #20
On Sunday morning, the high bush cranberry jelly we bought at the Farmers’ Market was excellent on my home-made bread.

High bush cranberry jelly from the Yukon
I went for a bit of a wander into the forest above our campsite, looking for Fall colours or mushrooms or whatever, and found this lovely little grove of poplar.

I had thought that another overnight stop might be needed, but I pushed through, though the last hour sucked. We were home by about 5:00 pm.


A night on the Top of the World Highway, and back to Dawson — 3 Comments

  1. One of my dream sites is Top of The World Highway . There is gold all around it as the engineers only put those roads in for access to the gold first . You are a legend Murry and you have Cathy and your babies. Life is so good for you all . God bless all of you and thanks again for the pics .

  2. Enjoy your site.We were up there 2 years ago and drove thru to Chicken.
    Hope you got to see the Sternwheeler Graveyard at campsite. Cheers,Don and Sharon.

  3. Thanks Murray…great pictures of Top of the World and that video of the George Black ferry is just like being there !
    Thank you so much for sharing your trips, you have no idea how we all appreciate you & Cathy and the furry kids.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *