Scenic Driving Alaska and the Yukon  by Erik Molvar

Scenic Driving Alaska and the Yukon Guide Book

by Erik Molvar (Falcon Guides)
Scenic Driving Alaska and the Yukon  by Erik Molvar
Pack up the car and enjoy thirty-one drives through some of the most spectacular scenery in the North Country. This indispensable highway companion maps out trips for exploring scenic byways and gravel highways, from the majestic beauty of snowcapped Denali in the Alaska Range and the lush coastal forests of British Columbia's Inside Passage in the south, to the vast expanse of the Yukon's Arctic tundra and far into the upper reaches of the Northwest Territories. Inside you'll find: itineraries ranging from 41 miles to more than 1,390 miles in length; route maps for each drive; in-depth descriptions of national parks, preserves, and recreation areas; where to find North Country treasures, such as massive glaciers, native ruins, ghost towns, wilderness parks, and local wildlife; historical information and suggested side trips; and tips on camping, travel services, and best driving seasons.

© 2005 Erik Molvar/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Scenic Driving Alaska and the Yukon" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 31.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 31.

Paved highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska; 1,390 miles (2,238 kilometers). The final leg of the Alaska Highway traverses the upper basin of the Tanana River, a region of lake-studded lowlands and distant mountain ranges. Because the United States has not yet converted to the metric system, distances are now expressed in miles, and you should note that the roadside mileposts indicate the distance from Dawson Creek before the route was shortened by straightening out its curves. This guide is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Dot Lake, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 1390
Paved highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska; 2,238 kilometers (1,390 miles). The Alaska Highway is still the most popular route to the North Country, and it is impossible to drive to Alaska or the Yukon from the south without traveling at least part of it. The highway is paved along its entire length, but expect to encounter some extensive gravel sections where the road is being rebuilt. Highway construction is an ongoing process in the Far North, where the extreme weather is hard on roadways. Services are available at frequent intervals. This guide is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Dawson Creek, BC - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 1390
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
West of Liard River Hot Springs, the Alaska Highway follows the British Columbia-Yukon border westward, crossing it seven times before reaching the town of Watson Lake. After traversing a broad lowland, the road passes through the northern end of the Cassiar Mountains and enters the Lake District of the southern Yukon. Large lakes dot the route to Whitehorse, which is the territorial capital and largest population center in the Yukon Territory. The highway continues westward, finally turning northward along the boundary of Kluane National Park and following the mountains into Alaska. This guide is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Watson Lake, YT - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 1390
Paved/gravel highway from Tagish Road to Atlin, British Columbia; 94 kilometers (59 miles). The Atlin Road runs southward from the Alaska Highway, passing through one of the prettiest parts of the Yukon’s southern lakes district. It winds up in an isolated corner of British Columbia, at the old gold-rush town of Atlin. The pace of life is appreciably slower in Atlin, a lakeside village off the beaten track. It has been billed as a little Switzerland, and it sits amid such stunning scenery that it became a major holiday destination for the wealthy during the early part of this century. Several roads out of Atlin lead to scenic wonders and historical sites. The town is well-known for its excellent fishing; anglers should bear in mind that British Columbia fishing licenses are required south of the Yukon border. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Atlin, BC - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 59
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
Gravel highway from Watson Lake to Carmacks through the Yukon interior; 602 kilometers (374 miles). This gravel thoroughfare connects Watson Lake and Carmacks, Yukon Territory, and is the most direct route to Dawson City for northbound travelers. The highway follows the route of explorer Robert Campbell, who was sent into the Yukon during the 1840s by the Hudson’s Bay Company to set up trading posts among the Athapaskan tribes. Fur traders had heard tales from the natives of a great westward-flowing river, and part of Campbell’s mission was to discover and map this waterway. Campbell and his voyageurs paddled up the Frances River, portaged over the low divide to the Pelly River, and continued westward to reach the Yukon. Along the way, Campbell named prominent landmarks after his superiors in the fur trade, the factors and governors of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Gold-rush stampeders used Campbell’s route as they traveled overland from Edmonton. The modern highway travels mostly through forested lowlands, occasionally passing large lakes and offering views of distant ranges. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Ross River, YT - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 374
Like the Alaska Highway, the Canol Road was conceived during the early stages of World War II as a means of supplying strategic military outposts in Alaska. Military planners envisioned a pipeline stretching from the oil field of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, to a refinery in Whitehorse, Yukon. From there, the fuel could be shipped overland to the Alaskan front. The Canadian Oil Pipeline, shortened to “Canol,” was built with four-inch pipe along native travel routes through the heart of the Mackenzie Mountains. A gravel road paralleled the pipeline, bearing convoys of construction workers and maintenance staff. This road through the wilderness has been opened to tourist traffic as far as the border with the Northwest Territories. Beyond the border, it is managed as a Heritage Trail suitable for backpackers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. The Canol Road is described here in two sections, the South Canol from the Alaska Highway to Ross River, and the North Canol, which extends northward from Ross River to MacMillan Pass on the Northwest Territories border. The latter is open only in the summer. If you are bound for MacMillan Pass, you would be wise to carry extra fuel. The northern section of the road is winding, making for slow travel. One-lane bridges cross most of the streams.
Teslin, YT - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 287
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
A paved or coated highway with a few gravel sections; 733 kilometers (456 miles) from Kitwanga, British Columbia, to junction with Alaska Highway. This remote roadway follows the Coast Mountains through British Columbia to join the Alaska Highway in the Yukon Territory. It was conceived as a gravel haul road for the heavy trucks bringing asbestos south from the mines at Cassiar. The mines are closed now, and most of the roadway has been paved or coated (which is almost as effective as paving). It provides the most direct access to the Far North, crossing a wild and mountainous landscape that has changed little in thousands of years. Services are available at regular intervals but are still far enough apart to give you an appreciation for the immensity of this beautiful corner of the continent. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Kitwanga, BC - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 456
Wide gravel highway from junction with Elliott Highway to Deadhorse on the North Slope; 414 miles (666 kilometers). The Dalton Highway, known to many Alaskans as “The Haul Road,” is a truly wild and remote stretch of gravel highway that connects Fairbanks with the North Slope oil fields at Prudhoe Bay. It was originally constructed to support the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which follows the highway along its entire length. The road was initially closed to public traffic, but it is now open as far as the oil-drilling center of Deadhorse. The roads through the oil fields and to the shores of the Arctic Ocean remain closed to travelers, but several Deadhorse companies offer bus tours of these attractions. The road begins in the rolling uplands of the Alaskan interior, traverses the remote and rugged Brooks Range, and runs onto the tundra-clad lowland of the Arctic coastal plain. Services are available at the Yukon River, Coldfoot, and Deadhorse. Bring extra gas and two spare tires along for the trip, and be sure that your vehicle is in top running condition before attempting this road. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Coldfoot, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 414
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
Description: Wide gravel highway from Klondike Highway to Inuvik, Northwest Territories; 741 kilometers (460 miles). The Dempster is Canada’s great highway to the Arctic, stretching more than 730 kilometers (450 miles) north through mountains and tundra to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Completed in 1978, the wide gravel highway retains much of the wilderness quality that has been lost by many of the more southerly roads. Services are spaced far apart, so you should carry extra gas and several spare tires. To avoid windshield dings and blinding dust, slow down when passing other vehicles. Be sure to pull as far to the side as possible when stopping in the roadway; pullouts are scarce. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Dawson City, YT - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 460
Improved gravel road from Paxson to Cantwell. This rugged gravel highway connects the Richardson and Parks highways by crossing the high tundra in the heart of the Alaska Range. Before the construction of the Parks Highway in 1971, this road was the only access route to Denali National Park. The scenery along the way rivals that found in the park, without the crowds of tourists and bothersome travel restrictions. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Paxson, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 130
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
Paved road from Richardson Highway to Chitina; 35 miles (56 kilometers). Narrow gravel road from Chitina to McCarthy; 61 miles (98 kilometers). This route is the primary road into Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park, the largest park in the United States (six times as big as Yellowstone). The first 33 miles to Chitina are paved. Beyond this point, the McCarthy Road follows the abandoned grade of the Copper River and Northwestern Railway. This route is extremely narrow, so pass oncoming vehicles with caution. Even if you are driving a passenger car, you may have to find a wide spot to pull over to allow another vehicle to pass. This part of the route runs through Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park, but most of the roadway is flanked by privately owned land. The road dead-ends on the banks of the Kennicott River. The town of McCarthy and the abandoned Kennecott Copper Mine lie across the river, and at the time this book was written, they could only be reached via a hand-powered cable tram above the water. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Chitina, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 97
Paved highway from Fox to Mile 28, gravel road for remaining distance to Manley Hot Springs; 152 miles (245 kilometers) overall. This gravel road runs northward through the forested high country of the Yukon-Tanana uplands and then jogs westward to reach Manley Hot Springs. The road is paved as far as Wickersham Dome, is broad and graveled as far as Livengood, and becomes narrower with some twists and turns in the final stretch. It provides access to the Dalton Highway at Livengood and parallels the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline to this point. The Elliott traverses an empty quarter of the state that retains much of its primeval wilderness character. Service stations are a rarity; you can get gas at Mile 5.5, at Minto, and at Manley Hot Springs. The road is passable in all weather, but the final stretch between Livengood and Manley Hot Springs may become potholed following rainstorms. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Minto, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 152
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
A paved highway from a junction with the Cassiar to Hyder, Alaska; 66 kilometers (41 miles). The Glacier Highway is a short, well-paved spur road that connects the Cassiar Highway with Stewart, British Columbia, and Hyder, Alaska. The highway crosses the Coast Mountains, and you can see more than twenty glaciers from the road. The Bear Glacier descends almost to the roadside and is considered by many to be the highlight of the trip. Stewart and Hyder are quiet villages on one of the long fjords that carry salt water from the Pacific far into the mountains. There is a weekly ferry that links Stewart with the Alaska Marine Highway system. From Hyder, an improved gravel road climbs high into the mountains, revealing magnificent glacial vistas and visiting old silver and copper mines. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Stewart, BC - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 41
Paved highway from Anchorage to Glennallen; 189 miles (304 kilometers). The Glenn Highway runs eastward from Anchorage, passing through the Matanuska Valley on its way to the Copper River basin. The highway follows a trail that was blazed in 1898 by Lieutenant Joseph Castner and his guide, mountain man H. H. Hicks. Castner’s superior, Captain Edwin F. Glenn, took the lion’s share of the credit for the expedition even though he was absent during most of it. A railway line was built through the lower reaches of the Matanuska Valley in 1916, but the land to the east remained a hostile wilderness. The eastern portions of the Glenn Highway existed as a pack trail through the 1930s. It was not until World War II that it was upgraded to a highway to link Elmendorf Air Force Base with the rest of the Alaska highway system. The route follows the Border Ranges Fault, which defines the northern edge of the Chugach terrane. The modern highway is paved, and highlights include views of the glaciers that descend from the Chugach Mountains and vistas of the Wrangell volcanoes, clad eternally in snow. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Sutton, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 189
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
Paved highway from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska; 244 kilometers (152 miles). This route was originally one of the famed “grease trails” used by the Chilkat band of the Tlingit Indians to carry rendered candlefish oil, baskets, and seashells inland to trade for caribou hides, moccasins, and birchwood bows made by the interior Athapaskan tribes. Each Tlingit chief had an Athapaskan counterpart with whom he had exclusive trading rights. Trade routes extended as far inland as the site of Fort Selkirk on the Yukon River. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Haines, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 152
Improved gravel road from Palmer to Willow; 49 miles (79 kilometers). This gravel road (also known as the Fishhook-Willow Road) climbs over a high tundra pass in the Talkeetna Mountains, linking the Glenn and Parks highways. It travels through the Willow Creek Mining District, site of the Independence Mine State Historical Park and other abandoned structures from the hard-rock gold-mining days of the early 1900s. One of the first roads in the original Alaska Territory ran between the town of Knik and the Grubstake Gulch placer fields on Willow Creek. Another road was later built from Palmer to the Independence Mine. The alpine scenery along this road is fantastic, including brilliant wildflower displays and possibly some of the wildlife that lives above the timberline. The road is closed in the winter and opens when the snow has melted, usually by late June or early July. It is quite narrow and steep in sections and has no guardrails. It is not recommended for wide vehicles or trailers. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Willow, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 49
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
Paved highway from Whitehorse to Dawson City in the Yukon; 527 kilometers (327 miles). The Klondike Highway is a well-paved route that connects the Yukon capital of Whitehorse with Dawson City and the Klondike gold fields. Fortune seekers followed this same route during the Klondike gold rush of 1898, via stern-wheelers in the summer and overland sleighs during the winter. The modern highway follows the old sleigh route, tracking the mighty Yukon River and crossing the forested uplands of the Yukon Plateau. Along the way, the road provides access to the history-rich Silver Trail; the Dempster Highway, which runs northward toward the Arctic Ocean; and the Top of the World Highway, with its link to the Alaska highway system. At the end of the road, Dawson celebrates its colorful gold-rush history with false-fronted buildings, museums, gambling halls, and live entertainment. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Whitehorse, YT - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 327
Improved gravel road from Tok Cutoff to end in Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park; 42 miles (68 kilometers). This gravel road begins at the Tok Cutoff and runs through the wild northern reaches of Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park. Sport hunting is allowed within the national preserve north of the road, subject to state and federal regulations. All-terrain-vehicle use requires a permit from the National Park Service. The road is passable to all types of vehicles as far as Trail Creek, at Mile 29.4. Beyond this point, the road fords several substantial streams, and you shouldn’t attempt to cross unless your vehicle has high clearance. The streams may rise and become completely impassable in early spring and after rainstorms. Check at the Park Service ranger station at Slana for current conditions. The last three miles of the road into the privately-owned gold-mining settlement of Nabesna require four-wheel drive and may not be passable. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Slana, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 42
ADD TO BOOKSHELF
Improved gravel road from Campbell Highway to Hyland River valley; passable for 132 kilometers (82 miles). This road was built to provide access to the Cantung Mine, deep in the heart of the Mackenzie Mountains. The mine workings are located on the largest deposit of scheelite (a high-grade tungsten ore) in the Western Hemisphere. Tungsten is used to harden steel, and the resulting metal is used to manufacture military armaments. The mine closed in 1986 and is unlikely to reopen as long as the current climate of détente continues. The road is poorly maintained and should be driven only by the adventurous. It is suitable for passenger vehicles for the first 132 kilometers. The remaining 69 kilometers to the tungsten mine are obstructed by washouts, and you will need four-wheel drive to negotiate them. Gas and other services are not available at any point on this road. If you drive it, carry enough extra gas in jerry cans to make it either to Ross River or Watson Lake. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Tungsten, NT - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 82
Paved highway from Wasilla to Fairbanks; 323 miles (520 kilometers). This paved artery connects Anchorage and Fairbanks, passing through some of the most breathtaking scenery in central Alaska. One of the newest roadways in the state, the Parks Highway was completed in 1971. It was not named for the outstanding nature preserves along the route, but for George Parks, a former territorial governor. The prime attraction along the way is Denali, the continent’s tallest peak, which can be seen clearly from several locations along the highway. Bear in mind that Denali is a weathermaker, and during the turbulent summer months, its summit may only be visible one day in seven. Denali National Park also lies along the highway, encompassing the peak and the wildlife-rich tundra that surrounds it. This national park offers world-class backpacking across the trail-free tundra, while its neighbor Denali State Park has several good routes for hikers who prefer trails. Fishermen will be drawn to the southern reaches of the highway, where the streams of the Susitna River drainage bear abundant runs of spawning salmon. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.
Cantwell, AK - Scenic Drives - Trail Length: 323
ADD TO BOOKSHELF