Whitehorse > Dawson City
Whitehorse > Braeburn Lodge > Carmacks > Pelly Crossing > Stewart Crossing > Dawson City
Route: Klondike Highway
Drive Quality: 6.5/10 – many perfect, paved sections, however, some significant construction, some areas with significant warping (speed kept mostly 100kph+)
Drive Quality: 7/10
Gas Stations: Sufficient
The route is beautiful, though unremarkable. At least, that is how it felt after almost a solid week of rain. Day 7 offered us no reward for continuing on despite the conditions. We stopped after only the first 100 kilometers to warm ourselves and dump out our boots (the word ‘waterproof’ seeming to refer to keeping rainwater in rather than out. Braeburn Lodge is a removed RV park and campground, though its claim to fame is the homemade cinnamon rolls the owner, Steve, makes daily. Portions here are HUGE. The cinnamon rolls are face-sized, a cup of soup is served with a loaf of bread, a sandwich feeds four people. The lodge is one of the main stops on the 100km dogsled race, the Yukon Quest, and the memorabilia is abundant.
Our stops throughout the day continued to be plentiful. Carmacks was next, the small town with gas stations, a restaurant, and cheap cabins directly on the Yukon River. Pelly Crossing and Stewart Crossing are simple stops. Pelly has more in terms of services, the gas station here offers free coffee if you fill up on gas. We warmed our hands and watched the steam disappear into the fog as we shivered and attempting to steal ourselves against the continuing rain. Stewart is refuge-free, though you can fill up on a pay-at-the-pump gas station.
The drive today, though difficult, was still beautiful, as we began to feel the pull and press of the North. Trees and scrubby bushes encroached on the road; the shoulders became more confined. There was very little traffic, many long stretches without cell phone service, and only a few dirt side-roads to speak of. In the few moments the sky-gods looked kindly on us, the wildflowers gave off a purple and yellow glow from the surrounding hills. At times, black clouds hugged the highway, and we ducked, dodged, and succumbed to rain multiple times throughout the day. Pulling into Dawson City felt like an accomplishment, the old timey town and its colorful buildings and quaint charm meeting us like a long-lost friend.
According to locals, in other seasons, Dawson City is packed. Entrance to the local casino or bar can require a long wait in line, and infamous toe-shot draws hundreds (sorry, due to Covid, the bar isn’t allowing the toe-shot. Trust us, we tried!). Though many shops have limited hours, most are still open. There are bars, restaurants, shopping, groceries (though don’t expect to be able to afford fruit or vegetables), and more. Stop at the local Dawson Trading Post, for camping equipment, cheap bad-weather gear, and anything else you might need. The owner is incredibly nice, and has spent the last few months rebuilding a 1960-something Triumph Bonneville. We ended up spending several nights in Dawson City, attempting to thaw out. We panned for gold (unsuccessfully), toured the town, and passed over many walking and hiking trails.
There is a ferry that crosses the river in Dawson City that crosses the Yukon River, which is free and runs 24/7. It gives access to campgrounds, hiking trails, and the Top of the World Highway. In other seasons, one border crossing into Alaska is 100km down the dirt highway, though unfortunately this year it too is closed.