Fall Colours on the Haines Highway

The Labour Day long weekend is the final outdoor weekend for many Yukoners, and we decided to take advantage of the best weather forecast in the region for a return to the Haines Highway. I’d been there a month ago without Cathy, but had pretty dismal weather, so was hoping for a much better experience with Fall colours and sunshine.

We had only vague plans when we left home Friday night, but we ended up at the Million Dollar Falls Campground that evening.

Million Dollar Falls Campground, Yukon
Million Dollar Falls is an excellent campground – I don’t think there’s a bad site there. We got site #11, a very large and private L-shaped site right at the main parking lot for the trail to the falls. This is the view from the entrance to that site.

Million Dollar Falls Campground, Yukon
I love any waterfall, but for me, there’s something very special about this one. It’s not large, or even especially scenic, but has a very special power.

Million Dollar Falls, Yukon
The Takhanne River just above the falls.

Takhanne River at Million Dollar Falls, Yukon
Looking over the falls and down the canyon. I’ve heard that there’s a long and rough trail on the opposite side of the river that leads from the highway to the bottom of the canyon, but I’ve never hiked it, or even tried to verify its existence.

Million Dollar Falls, Yukon
A closer look at the lip of the falls.

Million Dollar Falls, Yukon
This 6-minute video takes you on a walk from the campground to the falls, along a network of stairs.

Just before noon at Saturday, we drove back to Haines Junction, with a stop at Kathleen Lake to possibly go canoeing. It was very busy, though, so we didn’t stay. The lovely spot in this photo is at the junction of the Haines Highway and Alaska Highway in downtown Haines Junction.

Haines Junction, Yukon
Cathy had a craving for soft ice cream, and the kids agreed that that was a wonderful idea! 🙂

Dogs eating soft ice cream
On the way back to the campground, we stopped at Dezadeash Lake Campground, and conditions were perfect to launch the canoe there. It didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, though. Bella had been in the canoe last summer and was fine, but she was with Monty, who was her role model and her rock in many ways. She wanted no part of the canoe this time. I finally gave up, and took Tucker out – he was fine. Bella swam out after us, and I figured that might change her mind.

Canoeing at Dezadeash Lake, Yukon
At 18 pounds, Tucker is a really easy canoe partner 🙂 I bought this beautiful Kevlar Wenonah-Jensen race-touring boat quite a few years ago, with the idea of running the Yukon River Quest, but my only attempt at finding a partner to do that turned out badly. When I bought it, YukonAlaska.com was my main Web site and effectively my sponsor, but I don’t use it anymore, and the domain is for sale.

My dog Tucker in the canoe
I got Bella into the canoe, but all the reassuring in the world wouldn’t get her to calm down, and I eventually gave up.

Trying to get my dog Bella to enjoy canoeing
Leaving the Dezadeash Lake Campground at 3:30.

Leaving the Dezadeash Lake Campground
Every time I drive the Haines Highway, I wonder why I don’t come over here more often. The variety of mountains is quite incredible, and the Fall colours certainly enhance that.

Fall colors along the Haines Highway, Yukon
Rain showers in front of a distant layer of glacier-studded peaks.

Fall colors along the Haines Highway, Yukon
Autumn colours here vary a lot in intensity year to year. Some years, like this one, they’re very good, but other years most of the leaves just turn brown. My impression is that a warm spell followed by a sudden cold snap is what makes the brighter colours.

Fall colors along the Haines Highway, Yukon
We got back to the RV at about 4:30, fed the kids dinner, and started a campfire. After a busy day, Tucker was happy to just curl up and go to sleep.

My little dog Tucker curled up in Fall foilage
On Sunday, we decided to spend the day to the south, in the Haines Summit area. Photo stops were frequent, though.

Fall colours along the Haines Highway, Yukon
The Blanchard River, from the highway just north of the Yukon/BC border.

Blanchard River, Yukon
The Blanchard River, from the bridge just south of the Yukon/BC border.

Blanchard River, BC
There are 6 glaciers visible in the photo looking to the west of the highway, into Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park

There are 6 glaciers visible in the photo looking into Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park
South of the Blanchard, the highway climbs up into very different country. The bright colours largely disappeared, but none of the grandeur did. This fellow was taking his horse for walk across the highway from a guiding operation 🙂

Walking a horse near the Haines Summit
There are countless glaciers along the highway, and few have names.

Glaciers along the Haines Highway, BC
One of the more dramatic peaks beside the highway.

A dramatic peak beside the Haines Highway, BC
Looking towards Three Guardsmen Mountain (commonly just “The Three Guardsmen”) from the highway summit.

Three Guardsmen Mountain, BC
Glave Peak (1,920 meters / 6,299 feet high) is part of Three Guardsmen Mountain.

Glave Peak (1,920 meters / 6,299 feet high) is part of Three Guardsmen Mountain.
Just south of The Three Guardsmen, we stopped for a long while at the large pullout seen in the distance.

The pullout was a spectacular location for lunch, and to run Bella and Tucker.

A pullout along the Haines Highway, BC
The view to the west from the pullout. That near ridge offers superb hiking from Marinka’s Hill, accessed on a very old section of highway.

Marinka's Hill
After lunch and dog-play, launching the drone seemed like a good idea.

Flying a drone near the Haines Summit
And it was great fun. Flying the drone is a somewhat vicarious way of enjoying flight, but it’s far better than not flying at all.

Drone view of the Haines Highway
Heading north again, we went up a short side road where this little pond in front of The Three Guardsmen offered a great spot to shoot some photos to create an HDRI.

The Three Guardsmen, BC
While the broad views showed litte colour, looking closely revealed plenty of reds and even purples.

Fall colours near the Haines Summit
In the Haines Summit area, hiking trails aren’t need – you can just walk in any direction you choose.

A pond near the Haines Summit
And it’s a great place for energetic dogs to play!

My sheltie cross Bella playing on the tundra
Continuing back towards the campground, we stopped at the Chuck Creek / Samuel Glacier trail. I was surprised to see it so well developed.

Chuck Creek / Samuel Glacier trailhead
It’s certainly a popular trail! There were vehicles at pretty well every one of the many trailheads along the highway, but this was by far the busiest.

Vehicles at the Chuck Creek / Samuel Glacier trailhead
For a fair distance around Km 122, the creek alongside the highway is only a few inches below the road.

Km 122 of the Haines Highway
The view northbound at Km 138.7.

We decided to continue a few miles past the campground and drive down to Dalton Post. Once a very busy salmon fishing area, it was totally quiet. Dalton Post used to be a name that came into conversations a lot, but neither Cathy nor I have heard anybody mention it in years. Here, the silty Tatshenshini River meets the clear Klukshu River.

Dalton Post
Brilliant colours as we neared the Haines Highway on the climb up from Dalton Post.

When we got back to Million Dollar Falls Campground at about 5 pm, we decided to move to Dezadeash Lake, only a half-hour away, for Sunday night, with the idea of spending Monday getting Bella into the canoe.


Fall Colours on the Haines Highway — 4 Comments

  1. I can see its beuatiful in the summer to, it’s like two different worlds, all covered in snow or covered in flowers. I love the winter pictures . Thank you for sharing Murray.

  2. Great trip is this a part of my adventure while in Yukon I know Haines junction is on my itinerary love the falls ❤️