From Seward we decided to do a long day of driving and travel to Valdez in one day, we left early in the morning stopping in Anchorage for breakfast and an oil change for the truck, then continued on to Valdez
Along the way we came across some unusual geology where we took a break.
We turned off the Alaskan Highway at Glennallen to head south towards Valdez. Some of the scenery between Glennallen and Valdez was very rugged, passing glaciers, rugged mountain peaks and waterfalls. The weather also closed in at the higher elevations but cleared towards Valdez.
Again arriving later in the day and found that Valdez was also having its own fishing derby so campsites were at a premium but we managed to find a non-serviced site in the tenting area of Eagles Rest RV Park.
Once setup we strolled into town to stretch our legs and find something to eat. We wondered the streets downtown and found a local establishment where we ordered a bite to eat and a local brewed (Alaskan) beer. While relaxing and winding down from the drive we met Don F. who was in Valdez from Utah for a job interview. Don and his family, wife Emily and three children are now preparing for their move to Veldez. Don got the job he had interviewed for. We have enjoyed several text conversations with Don since our first meeting, a great guy and we wish him and his family all the best and we will continue to be in touch.
While here we visited a couple of museums and the old town of Valdez. Valdez was one of the locations where people came through to head to the Yukon Gold Rush.
After a couple of days we left Valdez, we stopped at an old historic railway site not to far out of town.
This was on the way to Kennecott – McCarthy. This was a copper mine/mining town at the turn of the last century, has become a national monument and is located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Reserve. We stopped for a night east of Chitina at a state campsite near the river.
The general public cannot drive into the town of McCarthy you have to walk-in, we parked at the information center on the west side of the Kennecott River, purchased shuttle tickets and walked over the footbridge into McCarthy where we found some interesting stuff.
From McCarthy we caught a shuttle bus to the Kennecott mine site which is another 4.4miles/7kms further east from town.
In 1979, UNESCO gave both Wrangell-St. Elias (Alaska) and Kluane National Park (Yukon) special status. Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska) was included 1992, Tatshenshini-Alsek Park (British Columbia) were added in 1994.
These four parks comprise the largest, protected area on earth. The area encompasses… some of the highest peaks in North America, the worlds largest Ice Fields, diverse and healthy wildlife populations, and a long history of first nation’s culture. The park is the largest in the US, however this the least is visited, which is a shame. We only learned of the park from talking to other travelers, truly a must see for anybody traveling to Alaska.
From McCarthy we started heading back towards the Yukon. We passed by an old railway trestle and some RV’s stranded in the Kennecott River.
We stopped at a roadside viewpoint looking at the Wrangell Mountains to stretch our legs.
Just after clearing the Canadian border we came across a moose dining in a pond.
We found a campsite at Snag Lake, Yukon which is just southeast of Beaver Creek for a couple of days just relaxing, having a fire pit and taking strolls. From here we continued on to our next location back in Alaska; Haines, while on our way to Haines Junction two Grizzly Bears crossed in front of us. We also spotted a couple of Trumpeter Swans.
We arrived in Haines later in the day again, so for our first night we stayed in a campsite in town called Oceanside RV Park, this was located on the Chilkoot inlet. Next day we moved to the Chilkoot Lake State Recreational Site for the next week. On the way we spotted two Brown Bears looking for Salmon in the river.
About a mile back down the road from our campsite was a fish weir where a local wildlife management representative would open it when the tide was coming in and count fish going upstream. Once the count make a certain number they open the river to commercial fishing, if the numbers are not there by a certain date they would close the river to recreational fishing. Everyday around 8pm a mother Grizzly with her two cubs would come along mother in the river and the cubs on the weir catching fish from the river.
After visiting the Haines Brewer and Distillery, having lunches in town and relaxing we caught the ferry to Skagway.
As we have been to Skagway twice before we only stayed a couple of days before heading back to Whitehorse in Canada. While there we camped at Pullen Creek RV Park which is on the edge of town, we took advantage and took some walks through town, had dinner and visited Skagway Brewing to try some local beer.
After a couple of days we headed toward Canada again calling in at the defunct town of Dyer which was just west of Skagway in the next bay over in the inlet.
As we drove up the pass out of Skagway we crossed through the US customs location but had to drive about another 50km/30miles to the Canadian customs. The terrain was very rugged, I could not imagine walking this carrying supplies to last months with just a trail to follow in the Gold Rush era.
We drove the Klondike Trail up the Alcan Highway where we headed west to Whitehorse for dinner, we stopped in at Carcross for lunch and a very quick walk around as it was quite cool. We were going to spend a couple of days in Whitehorse but it was raining and cool, this weather pattern was going to continue for a couple of days so decided to only stay one night. In the morning we headed east, arriving in Watson Lake around 4pm but decided to try and out run the cooler wet weather and continue to Liard Hot Springs. On the way we passed a herd of Bison.
We arrived just after 8pm when the campsite restaurant closed. We checked in for the night intending to stay 3 to 4 nights, soaked in the hot springs and generally relaxed. We only stayed two nights but would have stayed longer if a family of Orangutan’s arrived the second night, they drank and partied all night, setting off their vehicle alarms and chopping wood at 7am, these were not young people, a couple of them, their parents were in their 70s, we could see the writing on the wall for the rest of the BC long weekend therefore we decided to continue on towards Alberta.
From Liard we continued south, stopping at Toad River for lunch before continuing to Fort Nelson, where we found a wild campsite on the river flats just south of town, staying a couple of nights as it was sunny and warm.
As we left Fort Nelson and climbed out of the river valley, the view changed dramatically……..Catherine exclaimed, OMG we can see for miles all around us. For the first time in 4 months there were no mountains, what a strange feeling.
From here we stopped at Dawson Creek which is Mile ‘0’ of the Alaskan Highway (Alcan), we had driven all of the Alcan but a short stretch between Haines Junction and HWY2 turnoff approx. a 90miles/145kms. We visited the Alcan museum before continuing on to into Alberta. The farmers in Alberta were in the field harvesting their crops. We found a campsite at Dunvegan Provincial Campground east of Dawson Creek located on the Piece River. For anybody wanting more information about the Alaskan Highway, go to PBS.org and search Alaskan Highway.
From Dunvegan we took the scenic route via Fairview, Peace River and Nampa to Hilliard’s Provincial Park located on Lesser Slave Lake for a few days. From here we made our way to Red Deer where we dropped off the truck and camper for some warranty work, installation of our awning and outside shower that did not get installed prior to us leaving for Flagstaff. We have driven 22,352kms/13,889miles in the last four months on the northern portion of our journey and have also decided to do some upgrades to the truck and camper.
From here we are taking Catherine’s mother and her friend to Europe for a three week Mediterranean Cruise before we continue south on our next leg of our journey.