Yukon Sights by Sue Thomas

Alaska Highway - Dawson Creek BC to Beaver Creek YT

15 December 2001 - Saturday

Departed Vancouver Island on the 7 a.m. ferry. Arrived in Quesnel (Hwy 97 in BC) by 7:30 p.m. Having electric hook-up for the night was nice as it was chilly.

16 December 2001 - Sunday

The highway to Prince George was bare and wet. North of Prince George, Pine Pass was overcast but with no snow, which was odd for this time of year. 

We arrived in Dawson Creek (Mile 0 Alaska Highway) and parked at a friend's. We were able to plug in the block heater, but didn't have electric hookup for the RV as plugs were scarce because everyone needed to plug in their block heaters.

17 December 2001 - Monday

The morning was cold with clear skies. The beginning of the Alaska Highway was also in good condition. This rest area provided a good lunch spot.

Rest area along Alaska Highway, British Columbia
Rest area along the Alaska Highway

Chaos, our big white Kuvasz dog was 29" tall at the shoulder and barely tall enough to enjoy the snow in the unplowed area.

Rest area along Alaska Highway
Chaos, the big white Kuvasz, wading through snow

The wildlife viewing was very good today. There were numerous caribou, including one herd of eight. Also saw six moose, including these two making a quick exit left.

Moose along Alaska Highway, British Columbia
Two moose running for the trees

The road conditions were good.

Alaska Highway in winter
Northbound on the Alaska Highway

Near dusk two more moose caught us by surprise! They popped out of the bush and onto the road. One cleared the front of the RV while the other decided to trot along in front of us. The loose snow on the road made braking challenging and the moose's butt came closer to the windshield and my nose. It seemed contact was inevitable, but then the moose made a quick dash to the side and out of harm's way. Moose seem to not do well on the winter roads. we saw four dead moose along the road with two wolves munching on one.

While it wasn't our destination for the day, Toad River Lodge (historical milepost 422) provided a comfortable overnight stop after 9 hours driving. For $5 the lodge provided a spot for us to plug in electric and block heater. The outside temperature was -29C (-20F).

18 December 2001 - Tuesday

Slept well at Toad River Lodge. Then by noon we arrived at Liard Hotsprings (historical milepost 497). We looked forward to soaking in the hot springs!

Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia
The parking lot at Liard Hot Springs

In winter, the hot spring is wonderful.
The temperature today was -35C (-31F) and clothing of choice was fleece!

Sue at Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia
Can't wait to go for a dip in the pool!

We changed in the unheated change rooms and enjoyed a 2-hour soak. From our previous winter trip we learned to have our clothes arranged in the correct order for when we exited the pool, and to have a piece of styrofoam insulation to stand on so wet feet don't freeze to the wood boards.

Frost at Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia
Looking up while sitting in the hot springs!

Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia
Yeah, right!

Our previous winter trip we had camped in the parking area for the springs; however, this year the temperature was too cold. The lodge across the highway was the nearest electricity. We were happy to have electricity for the furnace AND the block heater!

Camping at Liard lodge
Camping beside the lodge at Liard Hotsprings

The temperature reached -40 overnight.

20 December 2001 - Thursday

The thermometer at the lodge indicated it -35F. The motorhome was reluctant to start even though the block heater was plugged in all night. We let the engine idle to warm up before we headed out.

Alaska Highway in winter
Northbound on the Alaska Highway

Every uphill the motorhome would slow down, chugging to make the top. Steve thought we were in serious trouble. I hinted that we could try the gas line anti-freeze I had stored. With the motorhome about to stall, he pulled over and emptied the bottle into the tank and it resolved the problem.

Alaska Highway in winter

At Watson Lake we hoped to refill the propane bottle. No success. They thought the valve was frozen. We carried on and at our next stop the attendant was successful in filling the tank.

After a long day on the road, we arrived in Whitehorse. The weather was mild and pleasant. We had electricity and were able to fill the water tank. The black and grey tanks remained frozen solid.

22 December 2001 - Saturday

Departed Whitehorse for Beaver Creek (my home town at historical mile 1202) near the Alaska border. We looked forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends.

Alaska Highway in winter
Approaching Kluane Lake from the south

As we descended towards the Donjek River, a semi-truck was heading the other direction. We didn't realize until 15 minutes later that the truck tossed a rock and broke the window in the overhead bunk. Fortunately, our destination was less than a hundred miles away. It was a chilly drive!

Alaska Highway in winter
Along the valley near Donjek River

Christmas in Beaver Creek

The goal this year was to get to Beaver Creek to enjoy Christmas with my dad. We camped in his yard with the block heater plugged in. Also made a temporary repair (Styrofoam, plywood and duct tape!) to the overhead window, durable enough to get us home.

27 December 2001 - Thursday

Departed Beaver Creek for Whitehorse. We were on the road by 8:30 a.m. even though it wasn't daylight until about 10 a.m.

Passed an oncoming semi-truck when we were climbing out of the Donjek valley and despite my warnings, Steve was not prepared for the total whiteout that surrounded us. After that, he pulled over and stopped for each oncoming truck that swirled the light snow. 

Alaska Highway in winter
Southbound on the Alaska Highway north of Haines Junction

There was sun and clear skies from Haines Junction to Whitehorse.

Alaska Highway, Yukon

Alaska Highway, Yukon

28 December 2001 - Friday

Departed Whitehorse by 8:30 a.m.

Alaska Highway, Yukon

As darkness approached, the sky took on a pinkish hue.

Alaska Highway, British Columbia

Alaska Highway, British Columbia

Our destination for the evening was Liard Hot Springs, historical mile 497.

29 December 2001 - Saturday

The temperature was warmer at Liard Hot Springs: only -18C (0F). The pool was busier, although that could be because it was also a long weekend.

30 December 2001 - Sunday

Departed Liard Hot Springs. The sky was clear and conditions were good.

Alaska Highway, British Columbia 

Stone Mountain on the Alaska Highway
Stone Mountain Provincial Park in B.C., approx. mile 370

Enjoyed our lunch while parked alongside the Blue Bell Inn in Fort Nelson.

Motorhome in Fort Nelson in December
Lunch stop roadside after fuelling up at the Blue Bell Inn in Fort Nelson

I didn't get pictures of the nine moose we saw today.
Overnighted in Dawson Creek at Alahart RV Park.

31 December 2001 - Monday

New Year's Eve and we hit the road. We were looking forward to the RV thawing as we headed south. New Year's Eve was celebrated at a rest area south of Cache Creek BC.

1 January 2002 - Tuesday

The RV thawed and looked a little road-weary as we waited for the ferry to Vancouver Island.
Note the snow shovel tucked under the ladder; didn't have to use it this trip!

Motorhome at the BC ferry terminal
At the head of the line waiting for the ferry at Tsawwassen terminal

Trip Summary

  • 6,300 km total (3,900 miles)
  • 2,115 litres of gas (465 imperial gallons or 559 US gallons)
  • 8.4 mpg average (7 miles per US gallon)
  • $1,400 gasoline and propane
  • $150 camping fees
  • 80 hours driving

People often ask what we did about the grey and black tanks. Yes, we used the toilet in the RV when necessary, usually in the middle of the night or early morning when other facilities were not available. Dishwater went to the grey tank and it would freeze. Nothing cracked or broke.

The fresh water tank was inside. Even so, we had slushy water some mornings as the furnace could not keep up with the winter chill. I tucked a hand-warmer on the water pump with fleece wrapped around it; that solved the slush problem.

Biggest problem was ice forming inside the cab. The truck heater simply could not keep up. I hung a fleece blanket between the cab and living area. During the day, the blanket helped retain the heat in the cab and at night it helped keep the heat in the living area.

The RV windows all had Styrofoam snug fit into them to keep the heat in and the cold out. It helped. Even so, the interior was often no more than 40 or 50 degrees F.