Yukon Sights by Sue Thomas

Tok to Alaska/Yukon Border on the Taylor Highway

10 September 2010

Tazz, our dog, had us up at 7 a.m. today. She is unsure of her balance but otherwise seems okay. Her eyes seem fine too. We all enjoyed a good walk before our departure.

We were on the road at 10 a.m. with glimpses of blue sky through the clouds overhead.

 The Taylor Highway was open for travellers with a pilot car through the rebuilding/construction zone between Chicken and the Jack Wade junction, which is the junction for the road to Eagle. This summer this portion of the highway washed out and the route has been closed for weeks. The road from the Jack Wade junction to Eagle remains closed though.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Starting the Taylor Highway headed to Dawson City

The landscape near the start of the Taylor Highway is marred by a forest recovering from a forest fire. The burned trees were in sharp contrast to the fall colours.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Rest area near the start of the Taylor Highway heading towards the Yukon

At Mile 44 the landscape is normal and the road is still paved.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Mile 44 of the Taylor Highway heading towards the Yukon

A few miles past Mile 44 there was some significant frost heaves. Nothing compared to the section of the Alaska Highway between Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek though. It seems no road is immune to the effects of building a road over muskeg & permafrost!

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Frost heaves on the Taylor Highway just southwest of Mile 53

Just a few miles later a flagperson stopped us at a construction zone and the highway was reduced to a single lane. A large excavator was on its side! Later we passed some equipment heading to this site to put the excavator back on its tracks.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Someone was having a VERY bad day at work ... this happened just past Mile 56

I was keeping my eyes open for good spots to drycamp. There were many BUT all were occupied by numerous trucks, tents, trailers, ATVs and hunters! It was amazing just how busy it was! Too hectic for our liking so we kept on moving.

At Mile 66, we stopped at the Chicken post office to mail a postcard. Then back out on the highway to continue our journey towards Dawson City.

Chicken, Alaska
Signage announcing arrival at the Town of Chicken - we didn't stop to look around

We've never stopped at Chicken but many folks indicate it makes for an interesting overnight stay.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
View of Chicken from the highway

A couple of miles past Chicken, just before Mile 70, a flagperson was stopping traffic. This would be the start of the re-construction area (the highway was washed out) through which a pilot truck would guide us. During the 40-minute wait we had to snug the fifth wheel and truck over to the road edge so a wide load could pass going the other direction. There wasn't much room to spare!

While following the pilot truck in a convoy of ten vehicles we were guided through several construction zones with heavy equipment. The convoy stopped while trucks dumped fresh road base and the bulldozer leveled it a bit -- then the convoy proceeded over the rough area.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
The highway was undergoing major repair due to flooding a few of months earlier

Generally the new construction made for good driving.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Following the pilot truck through the repaired zone

Taylor Highway
Continuing westbound on the Taylor Highway

At Walker Fork BLM recreation site, the truck/trailer turned to join the hunters camped there.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Sign marking the entrance to Walk Fork recreation site - it was full of hunters!

Most of the vehicles stopped along the way to join hunting parties and soon there were only three of us in the convoy!

Taylor Highway, Alaska
More reconstructed area along the flooded & rebuilt riverbanks

The extent of the repair and reconstruction was amazing! Some areas were rougher than others.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Some areas need more work but at least the highway was open!

At Mile 87 the pilot truck pulled over and we were free after 17 miles of following its tail lights!! The highway continued as a gravel road.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Travelling eastward on the east side of the Jack Wade Junction - N64 06.850 W141 18.542

Overall, the road was easy driving compared to some of the roads we had driven this trip. Once we were past the favoured hunting spots, the traffic was very light. Likely because many people were scared off by the negative road reports through the summer.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Seven miles to the Yukon border and you see for miles and miles - N64 05.471 W141 12.535 
That is the little community of Boundary in the distance

We were looking forward to returning to Canada. The sign below was a welcome sight!

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Approaching US/Canada Customs from Alaska - N64 04.775 W141 02.224

Still on the Alaska side of the border, the Davis Dome Wayside has signs with a great deal of information about the Fortymile district. We stopped to enjoy the views and stretch our legs. Also gathered together our documentation to cross the border.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
View from the Davis Dome Wayside on the Alaska side of the US/Canada border - N64 05.086 W141 01.051

The border agent was efficient. Took about three minutes to answer her questions and we were on our way again. Past the border there is a pullover that provides some stunning views.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
That is the US/Canada Customs building on the right side, viewed from the Yukon - N64 04.734 W140 58.551

There is no doubt about how the Top of the World highway got its name! The highway travels along the top of the mountain range. The elevation here was 1,300m (4,300 ft).

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Top of the World Highway heading to Dawson City, N64 04.734 W140 58.551

We debated staying overnight but it was cold and windy. As we continued, the skies cleared.

About 6 p.m. it was time to call it a day. Saw a large clearing and pulled over.

Taylor Highway, Alaska
Our overnight spot on the Top of the World - literally! - N64 07.636 W140 36.336

It was a lovely evening. There was very little traffic going by because the border crossing is closed for the night. We had a fire and cooked some smokies for supper. Then just sat around and did nothing but enjoy the fresh air and clear views!

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