Whitehorse to Watson Lake, about 300 miles
Wildlife: Willow Ptarmigan
Whitehorse is a bustling little city with lots of personality. It’s got a grid of streets in the downtown area with a variety of storefronts, many with classic flat, squared cutout facades like an old western town.
The town does not rely on tourists. It’s a major intersection between reality and the north, and there’s plenty of industry, including a gasoline refinery. There’s even a “Real Canadian Superstore” for grocery, etc., shopping, although it doesn’t rival the one we visited in Prince George. Prince George may be remote, but Whitehorse is way out there.
We ran into our German friends, Walter and Karen, in our campground, an wound up crossing paths with them several more times down the road.
The last night in Whitehorse we were treated to another view of the Northern Lights.
The road from Whitehorse to Watson Lake (we never actually saw a Watson Lake) was spectacular. The yellow leaves of the alders were dazzling.
There were plenty of mountains, rivers and lakes.
We made two stops along the way (other than my annoying attempts to get the perfect leaf picture).
First we saw a cutoff for Rancheria Falls, so we parked an walked the short hike along a mostly plank trail to an interesting set of falls. An island splits the river right at the fall line, so there are actually double falls on either side of the island.
The second planned stop was at the Liard Hot Springs. This is a natural hot springs that smells like Yellowstone Park. The Yukon has made a provincial park of the springs. They’ve built a nice plank walkway to them, along with a cedar (appropriately) changing house next to the springs. They’ve protected the springs without spoiling them.
We spent a good half hour bobbing in the hot water. It was about as hot as one could stand. We ran into Walter and Karen in the springs.
Then we saw the most original sight on the entire Alaskan Highway: The Sign-Tree Forest.
There were hundreds upon hundreds of posts stuck up, and nailed (or screwed, or bludgeoned) to them were street signs, town limit signs, license tags, wood-cut signs for every conceivable location. There were license tags from every state, some European road signs. Hand-scrawled signs.
And it seemed to go on forever.
It wasn’t the most unusual sign in the forest, but one of the pictures I assume you’ll see associated with this post was easily the best discovery. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.
We did not see the northern lights that night.