Driving the Golden Circle, Haines to Whitehorse

Yesterday was the second our of 2-day drive around “The Golden Circle”, although we added a couple of hundred kilometers with a side-trip out to Kluane Lake.

Click on the map to open an interactive version in a new window.

Map, Haines to Whitehorse
The view from my room at the Captain’s Choice Motel at 07:15 as I headed upstairs for a coffee and muffin.

The view from the Captain's Choice Motel in Haines, Alaska
Downtown Haines, looking north from in front of the motel.

Downtown Haines, Alaska
Our first stop was at the Southeast Alaska Fairgrounds to see Dalton City, the frontier town that was built for the filming of Disney’s “White Fang” in 1990. While most of the buildings are usable for shops, the Dalton Transfers Stage Line building to the far right is only 2 feet deep.

Dalton City movie set in Haines, Alaska
I stopped along the Haines Highway for a minute to watch Trumpeter swans on the Chilkat River.

Swans on the Chilkat River, Alaska, in the winter
We stopped at the main viewing and information area for the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, but there were no eagles. We did see 3 not far up the highway, but November is when the big bald eagle gathering and festival happens.

Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in the winter
After a quick and pleasant crossing back into Canada at Pleasant Camp, we experienced an interesting temperature inversion. The temperature in Haines was -13°C (+9°F), but as we climbed up towards the summit, instead of dropping as it normally does, the temperature rose to -9°C (+16°F).
The wind was screaming up on the Haines Summit, though, so as beautiful as it was, watching it from inside a warm van was good. Every Easter weekend, a small city forms here when snowmobilers from all over the Yukon, Alaska, and even BC and Alberta, arrive and set up camp in RVs and tents for one final blast of wilderness snowmobiling. See my article, “Spring Snowmobiling in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park“, for a look at that weekend.

The Haines Summit, BC, in the winter
We stopped at Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park to eat the lunches that The Bamboo Room had made for us. I lit a fire in the stove in the shelter, but we were ready to go before it developed much heat.

Kathleen Lake, Yukon, in the winter

The miles were going by much faster than we’d planned on, so I suggested a side trip out to Kluane Lake, where there are a few things to see, including the possibility of Dall sheep on the highway. The sheep didn’t make their appearance, but it was superb day to just enjoy the sunshine and the mountains. We got back to the Westmark Hotel in Whitehorse just before 5:00, so everyone could have a good rest before our long day going to Dawson today.


Driving the Golden Circle, Haines to Whitehorse — 6 Comments

  1. On a clear day, just stunning scenery.

    Assuming your guests are as interested in seeing things in the frigid Yukon as they are in following a bit of the race?

    • We try to give them a well-rounded experience, and coastal Alaska gives a great look at the variety that’s available so close to Whitehorse. While some of our guests can’t get enough of the race, others want to see and do as much as possible.

  2. I know my budget wouldn’t allow for the ‘tour’ but I will find out the costs anyway… It truly sounds like a great adventure w like minded folks and a guide who obviously is living the dream also…!