Up the Alaska Highway – Manning, Alberta to Whitehorse, Yukon

The past 2 days have been primarily a process of getting home after my Northwest Territories adventure, but I did a reasonably good job of “stopping to smell the roses” along the way – and there really are a lot of those roses!

I’m usually a fairly neat hotel resident, but with all the stuff I’m carrying on the bike, I trash a hotel room in a hurry! In this case, the Manning Motor Inn, which is used to worse things judging by the posted requests asking guests to not use the white towels “…to clean anything oily or muddy (including boots)”.

Manning Motor Inn - Manning, Alberta

Along Highway 35, the Mackenzie Highway, just south of Manning.

Mackenzie Highway, Alberta

I find abandoned farms and homesteads so sad. I always wonder what happened for a dream to end up looking like this.

Abandoned farm on the Mackenzie Highway, Alberta

My stop at Grimshaw was much longer than planned (actually, I hadn’t planned on stopping at all) due to their excellent new Mackenzie Highway Mile 0 park and interpretive center. Nicely done.

Grimshaw, Alberta

Grimshaw, Alberta.

Grimshaw, Alberta

Another abandoned farm, brightened a bit by a field of healthy wheat. This is along Highway 2 south of Grimshaw.

Abandoned farm on Alberta Highway 2

Southbound on Highway 2, dropping into the Peace River valley.

Peace River - Highway 2, Alberta

The modern Alberta farm, with oil and/or gas as well as hay.

Hay and oil in an Alberta field

I reached Dawson Creek about 1:00 and went to Alaska Highway House (behind the famous “Mile 0” signpost) to meet with Dustin Bodnaryk, who manages the center and runs a Mile 0 Alaska Highway page on Facebook as part of his marketing.


Alaska Highway House, Dawson Creek

The displays in Alaska Highway House are excellent – I highly recommend this stop for anyone coming up the highway. I was pleased to see one of my photos among the many on display.


Alaska Highway House, Dawson Creek

This is a large, very detailed scale model (1:57) of the Kiskatinaw Bridge when it was being built and the temporary bridge down low was still in place.

Alaska Highway House, Dawson Creek

This is certainly not my first shot of this sign, but it’s the first one taken as I was heading up the highway on a bike 🙂 Why are there 2 “Mile 0s”? See my article about that here.

Alaska Highway Mile 0

This is the Kiskatinaw Bridge today – a detour from the modern Alaska Highway just north of Km 17 takes you across it.

Kiskatinaw Bridge - Alaska Highway

I headed north in the sunshine at about 3:00, but 15 minutes later the skies looked much less welcoming!

Alaska Highway - south of Taylor, BC

The community of Taylor seen through the rain, on the far side of the Peace River Bridge.


Taylor, BC

The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow was the spectacular scenery along the highway as it drops steeply down to cross the Sikanni Chief River.

Rainbow on the Alcan

I reached Fort Nelson at about 9:30, and checked into the Blue Bell Inn again. I again got a room that I could park the bike right outside – not much of a room, but perfect. 🙂

The next morning, this is what I woke up to – 6 degrees C (43° F) and heavy fog. Just dandy riding weather 🙁

Fog at Fort Nelson BC

I decided that shooting some of the old vehicles at the Fort Nelson Museum in the fog would be an interesting effect so I loaded up and headed up the highway without breakfast. The fog was already thinning, though, so the photos didn’t work the way I’d planned.


Fort Nelson Museum

About 5 miles out of town I rode out of a wall of fog – this is looking back at it.

Fog on the Alaska Highway at Fort Nelson

The view north from Steamboat Summit (Km 537) just after 9:00.


Alaska Highway

Indian Head Mountain, seen from the north side of Steamboat. Back when I started driving the highway, Steamboat was a legendary bad piece of road – steep, narrow and twisting. You’d sure never know it now, though!

Alaska Highway

There are a lot of signs along the highway denoting it as part of BC Tourism’s Great Northern Circle Route, a route that I both enjoy myself and recommend to others.

Alaska Highway

At Km 596, on the final climb to Summit Lake.

Alaska Highway

This was certainly a 10/10 day at Summit Lake!


Motorcycle at Summit Lake on the Alcan

There are a few of these special markers along the highway, but I don’t know why. Most are at 100-km points, but not all.

Km 600 on the Alaska Highway

This has always been one of my favourite spots along the Alaska Highway, where it drops down to the broad MacDonald River valley. Stone sheep are commonly seen here, but there were none yesterday.

Alaska Highway

Six k further along, though, there were Stone sheep 🙂 I find that I can get closer to wildlife on the bike than I can with a car, though I’m not sure why.

Stone sheep on the Alaska Highway

And just 4 k further, these caribou appeared to be quite curious about what I might be.

Caribou on the Alaska Highway

Northbound at Km 635, south of the Racing River Bridge.

Alaska Highway

The Racing River, a much cleaner and more colourful stream than it had been just 9 days before.

The Racing River on the Alaska Highway

The community of Toad River. Toad River Lodge on the left of the highway was my fuel and long-overdue-meal stop.

Toad River, Alaska Highway

While I was having breakfast/lunch, 3 vehicles towing railway motorcars pulled in! I got chatting with them, of course – they’re part of a group of 30 or so motorcar owners who are going to Anchorage for a series of runs on the Alaska Railroad.

As the day progressed, I kept telling myself that the photo stops needed to get much fewer in number – to no effect. How can a scene like this not be “a Kodak moment”? 🙂

Alaska Highway

More Stone sheep, along Muncho Lake.

Stone sheep on the Alaska Highway

Looking back across Muncho Lake at a dramatic thunderstorm. I got hit by a few showers from small storms, but nothing much until the late afternoon.

Muncho Lake

I met 2 more caribou just north of Muncho, and this young bull seemed to also be more curious than afraid. I believe that the open mouth is like sheep, an attempt to get more information about what it’s seeing.

Caribou near Muncho Lake on the Alcan

The view north from Km 717.

Alaska Highway

I hadn’t been in to Smith River Falls since a forest fire went through (about 3 years ago?). It’s 2 km off the highway at Km 792.

Smith River Falls on the Alaska Highway

There used to be a pair of lengthy sets of stairs (perhaps 100 in total) that took hikers down to the base of the falls, but the forest fire burned them and they haven’t been replaced. Some people do still scramble down, but it’s a hazardous undertaking. This the view of one of the routes/slides from the bottom 🙂

Smith River Falls on the Alaska Highway

Even with the burned trees, Smith River Falls is a dramatic waterfall, quite different than any I’d seen in the NWT, both for the clean water and the double fall.

Smith River Falls on the Alcan

After my lengthy stop at Smith River, I did stick to my plan to make only fuel stops (at Rancheria and Teslin).

And that’s it – the adventure is over. I got home at 10:30pm, after 9 days on the road, during which I rode 5,127 kilometers. I have 1,166 photos in my file after editing, and have memories of more wonderful sights and people than I can count!

Here’s a map of the route.

Comments

Up the Alaska Highway – Manning, Alberta to Whitehorse, Yukon — 6 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us and as usual they are magnificent pictures and the commentary was very useful. When I travel here in Australia I take my “SPOT Messenger” with me and use it in tracking mode and my children and Grandchildren can see my progress on a map on the internet. It also provides a bit of security in the outback as it can summon help via the satellite communication where mobile phones do not work.

    Look forward to your next adventure / post.

  2. Very much enjoyed your write up. I have been planning a trip from Dallas, TX to Yellowknife to Yukon over to Hyder, AK down through Jasper then Washington and Oregon. I too ride a cruiser, Honda VTX 1300R. I hope to do this trip mid May. I will go the long way from Yellowknife to Yukon as to avoid the Laird. Your account has helped me. Thanks.

    • Glad that I could help, Jerry. That’s an awesome trip you have planned – if you have any questions about the northern section, feel free to ask (I used to live in Stewart, Hyder’s neighbour).

  3. Murray what a great trip. My two daughters and I are renting a small RV and driving from Anchorage to Seattle next month. An adventurous trip for us! Although I would love to do it on the back of a bike!!!