Even the Walmart parking lots in the Yukon have amazing views! The photo above was taken from the parking lot of the Whitehorse, YT Walmart. I seriously fell in love with the Yukon. It is wild, historic, beautiful and friendly. I didn't really have any preconceived notions and am happy to get to see more of this great place on my way home.
Because Jeff and I had taken the Klondike Highway up to Dawson City on the way to Alaska, I was seeing new sights when I came back through on the Alaska Highway. Despite the fact that the first couple hundred miles of road in the Yukon is the worst section of the whole 1200 mile Highway, it might rank in the top 5 of areas I have visited on this trip. Kluane National Park is part of a bi-national system comprising Kluane, Wrangell-St Elias, Glacier Bay and Tatshenshini-Alsek parks, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 for the spectacular glacier and icefield landscapes as well as for the importance of grizzly bears, caribou and Dall sheep habitat. The second tallest mountain in North America (after Denali) is located here - Mount Logan, at 19,551 feet. The landscape is otherworldly in some areas and hauntingly beautiful. Photos do not do it justice. I splurged (and I needed a shower) and stayed at a campground right on Kluane Lake for a night.
Here's another reason I love the Yukon... I saw the northern lights!
When I was originally planning this trip, it was my intention to drive the Golden Circle on the way home. That route has you head south out of Haines Junction and drive down to Haines, Alaska. You then take a ferry over to Skagway and drive back up to the Alaska Highway from there. I checked the weather forecast when I was in Haines Junction and it looked like heavy rain was expected in both Haines and Skagway for the next couple of days so I decided to skip it. I also made the decision to take the Alaska Highway the rest of the way instead of going back the way we came on the Cassiar.
I was pretty tired after staying up late and all the excitement so I didn't make too much progress the next day. I am coming up the the Northern Rockies part of the highway, which is supposed to be stunning, and I wanted to be able to spend as much time stopping to enjoy it as I want.
I passed the east junction of the Alaska Highway and the Robert Campbell Highway. When I was in Whitehorse, I toyed with the idea of taking this route as a detour because it went north into the Yukon and then met up with the Alaska Highway down the road. I came to my senses and decided against it... it is 362 miles of gravel. There is a lot of history, though, and it connects to the Canol Road which has a really interesting story. The huge, expensive, and difficult undertaking was an attempt to get oil from Norman Wells, NWT to Whitehorse for use in building the Alaska Highway and supplying airfields and army bases in the area at the time during WWII. The pipeline was finished in 1943, oil flow commenced in 1944, but was shut down April 1, 1945, having not performed entirely satisfactorily.
I saw a wood bison along the road and learned that they are endangered. Wood bison are a different species than plains bison that we are familiar with and are being reintroduced in Alaska.
Gonna try and see more lights tomorrow!