Exploring the Dempster Highway – playing on the Blackstone River

On Day 7 of this RV trip – Monday, July 30 – the main activity of the day, following my hike on the North Klondike River Trail, was driving up the Dempster Highway about 50 kilometers. While we just poked slowly along looking for wildlife or anything else that might be of interest, the main focus was a spot on the Blackstone River that’s great for playing with the dogs.

The light wasn’t particularly good for photos for a while after we left the campground just before 11:30, but most of the clouds cleared north of North Form Pass. After going past the little lake in the first photo, I stopped, backed up, and walked a way to get a few shots. The Arctic cottongrass (Eriophorum callitrix) was the feature that made it special for me – it’s one of my favourite northern plants, and it doesn’t grow in very many places that we travel.

Arctic cottongrass along the Dempster Highway, Yukon
The section of the Dempster Highway that we drove was in generally good condition, but the gravel on some parts was loose. When I saw a fuel tanker coming across one of those loose, rock-spraying sections, I just pulled over and let him go by.

Fuel tanker on the Dempster Highway, Yukon
The place I had in mind to play was a short stretch of the Blackstone River where it changes from a narrow channel to a broad braided stream. That’s at about Km 120 (the campground is at Km 71.5).

Blackstone River, Yukon
The next photo shows the view north on the Dempster Highway at the same spot as the photo of the Blackstone River above.

The Dempster Highway at about Km 120
Even beyond the dog-play options, this is a particularly beautiful stretch of the Blackstone, especially with the Arctic cottongrass at its peak.

Arctic cottongrass along the Blackstone River, Yukon
As soon as we got beyond the big rocks, the kids were in! Most of the riverbed varied from fine gravel to soft mud – with shallow water, a perfect playground.

Dogs playing in the Blackstone River, Yukon
As he often does, Tucker set up a racetrack that Bella was supposed to chase him on. She gave it a good try, but he’s extremely fast 🙂

Dogs playing in the Blackstone River, Yukon
Tucker just discovered a week previous that in the right conditions, he loves playing in the water. The Blackstone River had those conditions, and he had a ball, in deeper and deeper water.

Dogs playing in the Blackstone River, Yukon

Dogs playing in the Blackstone River, Yukon
Turning away from dogs, this is a particularly beautiful section of the river. This was the view looking upstream (to the south).

Blackstone River, Yukon
The kids and I could have stayed there for hours, but the big rocks between the car and the water were too much for Cathy’s bum knee and she had to return to the Tracker to wait. So when Bella and Tucker tired out, instead of laying in the sun savouring this incredible world, we returned to the car.

Playing in the Blackstone River, Yukon
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a vast expanse of Arctic cottongrass. Have I mentioned how much I love that plant? 🙂

Arctic cottongrass along the Blackstone River, Yukon
The mountains along the Dempster are mostly quite similar, but two of them are studded with amazing jagged outcroppings. I’d like to climb up for a closer look, but the brush between the highway and those open slopes is quite ugly. Maybe some day…

Back at the campground, we had an enjoyable evening just soaking up the wonderful vibe of Tombstone Park.

Cathy rarely shows up in photos I post here, but that evening, she wanted a photo to send to her parents. There was certainly no better place to shoot it than at one of our favourite places in the Yukon.

Cathy Dyson with her dogs at Tombstone Mountain Campground, Yukon

Our time at Tombstone was short – the next afternoon, Cathy would fly home from Dawson and I’d head south again, towards Little Salmon Lake and Faro.


Exploring the Dempster Highway – playing on the Blackstone River — 4 Comments

  1. Looks like the weather was certainly cooperating. Did you cross into Beringia by travelling the extra distance north of the campground?

    • Although it’s not what was Beringia, we travelled far enough to get a much better feeling for the Arctic than Tombstone offers. I always recommend that people go to at least Chapman Lake, and we were just beyond that.

  2. I went back to re-read (and really soak in the pics) all of these posts, there is something about the look of that area that just speaks to me. And your obvious delight in being there and exploring makes it that much more interesting.