Enjoying Spring on the Beach at Dyea, Alaska

The vast, almost always empty beach at Dyea is one of my favourite places to go as Spring approaches. The real Spring, not the one on the calendar that bears no resemblance to the Northern one 🙂 On Wednesday, the dogs and I went down for the day, and it was wonderful.

I had some errands to run, so it was after 11:00 by the time we reached Windy Arm. I was surprised to see that there’s already a fair bit of open water – even the large lakes may be ice-free much earlier than usual.

Spring ice on Windy Arm, Yukon><br />
Monty and Bella had a good romp at our usual stop on Tutshi Lake. Bella was trying to break some of the ice by stomping on it with both feet but didn’t have much luck. She does that on the puddles at home every morning – it’s a pretty funny game to watch.<br />
<center><br />
<img src=
The White Pass railway crews have gotten the tracks and part of the bus parking lot at Fraser cleared now.

Spring snow clearing on the WP&YR rail line at Fraser, BC
The clearing doesn’t progress down the tracks towards Skagway very far yet. This year, you can ride the train to and from Fraser between May 5th and September 24th. Cathy and I are looking forward to our almost-annual train ride on the Victoria Day long weekend (May 16-18 this year).

Spring snow clearing on the WP&YR rail line at Fraser, BC
These pilings are from an incredibly long wharf that was built at the start of the Klondike Gold Rush. They’re the main sign now that a town once existed here.

Century-old wharf pilings at Dyea, Alaska
This is what that wharf looked like in 1898.This sign is at a pulloff on the new section of the Dyea Road right across the Taiya River from the townsite.

Dyea, Alaska in 1898
We reached the water just as an extremely low tide had started to turn. With the very shallow gradient of the beach, it comes in very quickly. During the Gold Rush, before the wharf was built, many people lost everything when their goods were dropped on the beach and they couldn’t move it fast enough.

Beach at Dyea, Alaska
Bella is pretty fast, but she can’t keep up with Monty, even at 12 years old. She learned about salt water quickly – I didn’t see her try a drink from the sea at all this time, unlike our Easter weekend at Haines 🙂

Dogs playing on the beach at Dyea, Alaska
A strong, cold wind out of the north forced me to keep my jacket on except in this little sheltered area along the western cliffs.

The beach at Dyea, Alaska
There are some really nice waterfalls along those cliffs – none very large, but some very pretty.

Waterfall at Dyea, Alaska
The little trickle coming out of a crack in the granite is only about a foot high.

Waterfall at Dyea, Alaska
I love these cliffs – they have great characer, and lots of variety.

Cliffs along the beach at Dyea, Alaska
Bella is getting more and more adventurous, and yet is showing good judgment, a trait that’s really important in the places I take my dogs. She carefully checked out the route back down from this spot rather than diving off the side as I’ve seen some dogs do.

Sheltie on the beachside cliffs at Dyea, Alaska
In a still photo it looks like Monty is in for the kill, but they’re just playing (he’s still got some good moves in him!).

Dogs playing on the beach at Dyea, Alaska
This was shot just seconds after the one above – haha!

Dogs playing on the beach at Dyea, Alaska
On the way out, I drove through the very nice campground at the new Dyea Flats Recreation Site. There are only 6 sites and they’re small (our 31-foot rig might just barely fit), but they’re free so far.

Campground at Dyea Flats Recreation Site
Back to winter, overlooking the Thompson River just south of Fraser.

The WP&YR rail line crosses the Thompson River
From the highway, the ice at the beach where I always let the dogs run looks like it’s going to break up any day now.

Spring ice on Tutshi Lake, BC
I love pressure ridges, but the route down to this one on Tutshi Lake looked too difficult, so I just enjoyed it from afar 🙂

Pressure ridge of ice on Tutshi Lake, BC
Windy Arm is looking quite Spring-y right at the BC/Yukon border.

Windy Arm, on the BC/Yukon border
I stopped for a minute at the historic Venus silver mill, mostly to remind myself that I need to get through it again this year.

The historic Venus silver mill, Yukon
When I saw these 3 swans on the Nares River at Carcross, I made a little detour. Somehow I missed the migration this year – I won’t let that happen again.

It’s Friday afternoon as I post this, and I’m 1,000 miles away from the Yukon, in Kelowna, BC. More about that in a day or two 🙂


Enjoying Spring on the Beach at Dyea, Alaska — 5 Comments

  1. Wonderful pictures….my favorite would be Windy Arm ! I guess Monty is still the boss although Bella has grown into a pretty big dog. I’m sure they are good travelling companions. Thanks for sharing. Maureen

  2. Murray, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your photos no matter the season. Thrilled when you mention you are on another excursion as I know we’ll all enjoy it as much as you are. Safe travels.

  3. Beuatiful pictures, thank you for sharing. Would love to see it but it’s to far away.

  4. Lovely. And your dogs are wonderful. I can’t wait to see your neck of the woods in person in a week or so.

  5. Hi Murray! Long time reader first time poster. I think I was sitting in front of you on the Air North flight from Vancouver to Kelowna (I was heading back to Whitehorse). Amazing photos, I live in Carcross and you are one of the few people who are able to capture some of the beauty of this place in pictures.

    Stop in to the detachment next time you are down and say hello!