Wandering along the Alaska Highway on the Motorcycle

Summer has finally returned to the Yukon, and yesterday I was dying to get back on my motorcycle. Checking out the recently-reopened Johnson’s Crossing Lodge, 110 km down the Alaska Highway, was as good an excuse as any 🙂

What a superb day to be on 2 wheels. There were a lot of bikes out yesterday, making up nearly half of all the vehicles I saw on the highway. That’s White Mountain ahead, from about Km 1343, just north of Jake’s Corner.
White Mountain, Alaska Highway
A bit early for lunch, I rode past Johnson’s Crossing to get a few shots of the Teslin River Bridge. The roof of the lodge can be seen on the far side of the bridge.
Teslin River Bridge, Alaska Highway
As I pulled into the Canol Road rest area a few hundred yards from the spot where I shot the photo above, the bike’s odometer clicked over to 26,000 km. Given our very short seasons, that’s not too bad for 2 full seasons and 2 part seasons of riding (I bought it in late July of 2010).
2009 Vstar 1100 Classic
A general view of the rest area at the junction of the Alaska Highway and the gravel and little-used South Canol Road. Very few people stop here – perhaps because it’s not visible from the main highway.
Canol Road Rest Area, Alaska Highway
A photo of the Teslin River Bridge (Bridge No. 416) under construction in 1944, on one of the interpretive signs at the rest area. The bridge is 37 meters high (121 feet) and 450 meters long (1,476 feet).
Teslin River Bridge under construction
Looking north on the Canol Road – the next services are in the little village of Ross River, 226 km (140 miles) ahead.
One of the 7 old trucks at the rest area – an FWD, I think. Hmmm – I could pick up running gear cheap at the salvage yard… 🙂
Adding some RV stock to my photo collection on the way back to the lodge.
RV on the Teslin River Bridge, Yukon
I was pleased to see lots of action at the Johnson’s Crossing Lodge. Having regular gas at $1.399 per liter is a great way to get people to stop, to start – that’s the same as the average price in Whitehorse.
Johnson's Crossing Lodge
The small dining room has great character.
Johnson's Crossing Lodge
The menu is basic but has some interesting options such as bison and elk smokies, and prices are good. I ordered the loaded Crossing burger.
Menu at Johnson's Crossing Lodge, Alaska Highway
While I waited for my burger, I looked around, and was pleased to see several photos of the historic lodge that sat at this site, mounted in window frames from that large structure. Ellen Davignon, seen in this photo with school bus driver Ross Regan, wrote a wonderful book about her life there, The Cinnamon Mine: An Alaska Highway Childhood.
Johnson's Crossing Lodge
The very good Crossing burger with potato salad. Good grub at good prices is the number one thing that gets me coming back to a place over and over. Both servers I chatted with were very friendly locals and seemed to genuinely like working at the lodge.
A loaded Crossing burger at Johnson's Crossing Lodge, Yukon
Even the gift shop was unique, both in layout and many of the articles stocked.
Gift shop Johnson's Crossing Lodge, Alaska Highway
Thoroughly pleased with my visit, I started the ride home, but quickly decided to pop down to the river for a look, to at least get some photos of the bridge from that angle. This is a popular spot to launch boats (canoes, mostly) to go to Dawson City.
Teslin River and bridge at Johnson's Crossing, Yukon
I find bird identification to be very frustrating. This little guy I saw at the boat launch under the bridge is a sandpiper, but even with the dark legs limiting the options considerably I’m not certain which one. My guess, though, is that it’s a juvenile Semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla).
Sandpiper along the Teslin River
I had decided not to fuel up at Johnson’s Crossing, but instead to go back to Jake’s Corner, a former fairly regular stop for me. The restaurant closed in April 2013, however, and I haven’t stopped since (late Spring seems like a very odd time to close a business whose boom days are in the summer). The bike only took $13 worth of gas at $1.388/liter.
Jake's Corner Lodge, Yukon
The restaurant is available for lease, and I hope that someone picks it up, because I can’t imagine that fuel will keep the business open much longer. I’d really hate to see the sign at Jake’s be the next one to go dark.
Jake's Corner, Alaska Highway


Wandering along the Alaska Highway on the Motorcycle — 8 Comments

  1. Another great post with some excellent photos Murray! From what I understand, the new owner of Johnson’s Crossing Lodge is Sandy Trerice, who at one time owned Penny’s Place in Pelly Crossing?
    I always love the views of White Mountain, let me know if you have time and want some company to hike up there this Summer or Fall! You probably already knew this, but the whole area around it is now a Territorial Park, Agay Mene. http://agaymenepark.ca/

  2. I didn’t make the connection, but yes, you’re right, Kevin – the new owners are Frank and Sandy Ruether, and Sandy did own Penny’s Place. I stopped at Penny’s Place countless times with tour groups because of how she ran that place, and it looks like Johnson’s Crossing will be similarly run.

    I’d definitely like to get up White Mountain with the fur-kids sometime in the very near future – I’ll pop you a PM.

  3. Hey Murray! Loved the article and pics. The picture of Mom at the table is indeed dear old Ma…but the fella sitting across from her is Ross Regan. He used to drive school bus for Teslin School and became a family fixture for years.

    I am so happy that Sandy bought the place. It’s the first time since we sold it in ’92 that I feel welcome and at home there again. I wish Sandy and Frank nothing but the best.

    • Joanne and Kelley, I am so pleased to see you both here, and to hear about your reaction to the lodge now (and vice-versa 🙂 ). I’ve corrected the ID of the fellow with your Mom, Keeley – thanks!

  4. Now I am SO homesick! My Mom has been out a couple of times to the “Lodge” as we fondly call “home”, sharing recipes and her enviable expertise with Sandy and Frank, and our family is so thrilled that Yukoners are at the helm and that they invite us with open arms. It looks like you had a spectacular trip. Where’s your fishing rod???

  5. Hi Murray The last time I was in the Yukon I was going to stop at the Johnson’s Crossing Lodge for lunch & gas but found it was closed. surprised & disappointed. I will stop there on my next trip . Great blog & photos as always thanks .