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Taylor Highway Itinerary to Eagle Alaska from Tok

Follow my Taylor Highway Itinerary, with a side trip to historic Eagle Alaska. Taylor Highway to Eagle is about as remote as it gets. I promise you, it’s worth the drive.

Epic Taylor Highway to Eagle Alaska

The epic Taylor Highway, also known as Alaska Route 5 begins at Tetlin Junction on the Alaska Highway, 12 miles southeast of Tok, a small town known as the “Getaway to Alaska”. The Highway follows a route that once was used by gold miners during the Klondike Gold Rush and ends at historic Eagle on the Yukon River. This is a seasonal road open only during the summer. 

This is wild Fourtymile country where in the past, travellers walked overland with pack horses or poled up the river during the summer months. In winter dog sleds were used to move around.

If you’re not up for the side trip to Eagle, connect at Jack Wade Junction to the Boundary Road and Top of the World Highway to Dawson City.

đź”— LINK YOUR TRIP âž” YUKON AND ALASKA ROUND TRIP FROM WHITEHORSE

Taylor Highway Itinerary to the end of the road

Driving route to Eagle for independent adventure travellers

The first 64 miles of the Taylor Highway from Tetlin Junction to Chicken are mostly paved with potholes and cracks in the road to look out for. The scenery of the boreal forest and rivers below is stunning on this route. The road is wide enough to pass oncoming cars. No shoulder most of the time or soft shoulder.

The stretch between Chicken and Eagle is a narrow, gravel road with steep hills and sharp turns. This section is not recommended for large campers, or, at least be prepared for the drive.

The road was in reasonable condition during my journey and I enjoyed the drive all the way to Eagle.

Narrow windy Taylor Highway to Eagle
The narrow, windy Taylor Highway to Eagle Alaska

Bring US$ Cash when following my Taylor Highway Itinerary to Eagle

The detour to Eagle was part of my Yukon Alaska round trip from Whitehorse and started on Day 17 of my journey. In my case, it ended up as a two-day detour from Jack Wades Junction. I highly suggest you add another day to this amazing trip. It was a last minute decision for me to head to Eagle and, unfortunately, I was not well prepared. I didn’t bring enough US$ cash and my gas tank was not full. Of course, I expected to find an ATM in Eagle and a gas pump that accepts cards. I was wrong.

The ATM didn’t work at the hotel (also the operator of the gas pump) at the time I was there. Gasoline, groceries and everything else were cash-only and extremely expensive. No one was interested in my Canadian dollars, even when I offered a good exchange rate. ALWAYS BRING CASH!

Day 17: Tok to Walker Fork River Campground

Distance: Tok to Tetlin Junction, the start of Taylor Highway 12 mi (20 km)

Taylor Highway Itinerary start near Tok Alaska
On the road again in Alaska

I didn’t sleep well the last night at Alaskan Stove Campground in Tok and was awake by 4 am watching the pink sky and a beautiful sunrise. My Swiss friends got up early as well and we had coffee together.

The two left Tok for Fairbanks in their old pickup truck. I quickly stopped at the Visitor Centre before leaving Tok and headed down Alaska Highway to Tetlin Junction (12 mi / 20 km) to get on Taylor Highway at Mile 0.

Mile 0 Tetlin Junction to Eagle

From Tetlin Junction to Eagle, it is approximately 156 mi ( 251 km) and takes a minimum of 4 hours 20 min to drive. 50 km/hour was the fastest I went, but mostly 30/40.

Taylor Highway history written on a sign
Gold mining history Taylor Highway and caribou herd

Tetlin Junction is the start of Taylor Highway. The buildings on the Northwest corner of the intersection are what remains of the old Forty-mile Roadhouse.

Photo opportunities along this stretch of road are plenty, look out for signs. You will see dark, gray sand dunes on both sides of the road for the first few miles on the Taylor. They are a reminder of more than 10’000 years ago when strong winds carried loose sediments from the plains and deposited them against the low mountains in the Northwest.

You will notice burned forests along the highway. Much of the spruce forest along this route was burned during the 2004 and 2005 fires.

Signs are posted on Federal land to mark the boundaries of a special hunting area. In these areas, the regulations allow rural residents of Alaska to hunt game such as caribou. The signs are there to help rural residents to hunt legally.

Stop at Mile 14 to get a good view of Mount Fairplay. At Mile 21 you will find interpretive panels telling about the life cycle of caribou and the fall and rise of the forty-mile herd.

Mile 35 Mount Fairplay Wayside

Mount Fairplay Wayside with information panels
Mount Fairplay Wayside

Here you’ll find a view­ing plat­form with excel­lent views of Mount Fair­play and the surrounding valleys. Mount Fairplay Wayside has information panels and it’s the place to take a picture of Mount Fairplay, elevation 5,541 ft (1,689 m) on a clear day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a clear day when I was there. Toilets and picnic tables are available at this site.

Take the small trail that leads to anoth­er view­point. This is the entrance to Fortymile Min­ing Dis­trict, the sec­ond-old­est min­ing dis­trict in Alas­ka, which first pro­duced gold in 1886.

Mile 49 West Fork Campground and River Access

Westfork Campground sign on Taylor Highway
Westfork Campground on Taylor Highway

Shortly before Chicken, I stopped at Westfork Campground. There were toilets, tables and a few firepits close to the river. I thought about staying the night but the weather was good and rain was in the forecast for tomorrow, so I kept going for a bit longer and headed to Chicken.

Mile 64 Mosquito Fork Bridge Wayside

Mosquito Fork Wayside sign and outhouse
Mosquito Fork Wayside

There was a pleasant Wayside with picnic tables, a grill and an outhouse at the Mosquito Fork Fortymile River Bridge. The boat ramp area at the bridge was swampy.

Mile 66 Chicken

From Chicken, it’s just another 95 miles (153 km) of driving to Eagle. Because of the road conditions, the drive takes at least three hours. Chicken to Walker Forks River, where I camped for the night is a 20-minute drive (15.3 mi / 24.6 km).

Chicken old town alaska
Chicken Alaska

Here I was in Chicken (population 12), the old gold mining town that began its glory around 1898. Mining is still going strong in this raw frontier town. Many of the original buildings still stand.

I checked out the treasures at the Chicken Creek Outpost, stopped at the famous Chicken sign, and visited the Pedro Dredge. The dredge is the most complete gold dredge open to the public on the Alaska Road System and daily tours are offered. Historic Chicken and Pedro Dredge are National Historic sites.

The Chicken Gold Camp offers an RV Park and campground, cabins, a coffee shop, a gift store and activities.

Famous Chicken City sign
Chicken Gold Camp

Also, I thought I was the only one on the road, there were a few large trailers in the parking lot.

After two hours of exploring old Chicken, I was ready to hit the road again. Leaving Chicken, the Taylor Highway turned to gravel. The drive from Chicken East was spectacular, a winding gravel road with sharp curves and views of boreal forests, rivers and endless wilderness landscapes.

I drove this road once from the other direction and started in Dawson City. I remember well that I found the part before Chicken fairly scary. They might have widened the road in the meantime and improved it. Or I’m just a more relaxed and experienced backcountry driver now.

Bar vibe and decorations in Chicken Alaska
Chicken Alaska and its vibe

How Chicken got its name: Ptarmigan is Alaska’s state bird, and when the gold miners moved to the community in the early 1900s, they came across lots of Ptarmigan. Not everyone agreed on how to spell ptarmigan and they decided on “Chicken,” a nickname for the grouse. The city’s name makes it frequently on the unusual place names list.

Things to see and do in Chicken Alaska:

  • Mile­post 68 – Mosquito Fork Dredge Overlook Trail. Enjoy an easy, 1.5 mile (2.5 km) hike to an over­look above the remains of Mos­qui­to Fork Dredge. This dredge was shut down in 1938 after oper­at­ing for less than 2 seasons. 
  • Mile­post 69 – Lost Chick­en Hill Mine, estab­lished in 1895. It got its name because it held a pay streak that had been â€‹â€ślost” for many years. Check out the area for its min­ing his­to­ry that began before the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 – 98. This place is now pri­vate­ly owned and mined.
  • Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost – Camp­ground, RV Park, and Cab­in Rentals. On-site restau­rant, gift store, his­toric gold dredge and muse­um, gold mine tours, recre­ation­al min­ing and gold panning.
Windy Taylor Highway near Chicken
Taylor Highway near Chicken

Camping at Walker Fork River Campground

Walker Fork Campground sign at entrance
Walker Forks Campground

Tired after a long day of driving I stopped at Walker Fork River Campground and State Park, which had 18 campsites and clean outhouses. I parked right on the river in a tenting area, but the park was pretty empty so no one should mind. The sound of the river guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

In the 1930s and 40s, this was the site of Lassen Airstrip with year-round air service.

I brewed a coffee and had a snack. The camp chair was facing the river, I took out the laptop and Jackery power station to catch up with my diary. But, that didn’t happen. It started to rain hard and I had to move everything back into my mini camper.

A woman from Texas walked by with her white dog and we had a chat. She and her husband were planning to drive to Eagle in the morning. She inspired me and I considered adding Eagle to my journey and driving the Taylor Highway to the end of the road. That was if the weather was playing along.

Later in the evening, the rain stopped, the sky brightened up again and hopefully, these were only rain showers.

Day 18: Walker Fork to Eagle, Alaska

Driving distance to Eagle: 76.5 mi / 123 km (on narrow, rough gravel road)

My campsite at Walker Fork was close to a clean outhouse. I had river access but the trail to get there was muddy. A waterfall across the river tumbled down through a large round opening, up in the hill, quite impressive. It was cloudy again this morning. After my morning camp coffee, I walked along the river. The trail soon turned into a wild overgrowth and I had to turn back.

I was back on the Taylor Highway at 9.30 am. Soon, the gravel road got narrower with steep, sharp curves with no shoulder. The mountain road snaked up and down winding its way through the mountains with many narrow stretches and hairpin curves.

Dust on the Taylor Highway near Jack Wade Junction
Dust on Taylor Highway near Jack Wade Junction

That would have been no problem, but suddenly the road got busy. Caravans of large campers towing cars behind came towards me from Dawson City. The gravel road turned into a dust cloud.

Jack Wade Junction – Eagle Alaska or Dawson City Yukon

Gravel road to Eagle Alaska
Taylor Highway to Eagle Alaska

When I arrived at Jake Wade Junction I decided to escape the traffic and head north to Eagle, Alaska.

It is 64 mi ( km) from Jack Wade Junction to Eagle, one of Alaska’s oldest towns on a narrow rough gravel road. Expect to drive at a slow speed. There are no services until you reach Eagle.

If you are not going to Eagle, continue west at Jack Wade Junction on the Boundry Connecter to the Little Gold/Poker Creek border to cross into the Yukon, Canada, only open during the summer. From the border, the Top of The World Highway takes you to Dawson City, Yukon.

I was nervous about driving the Taylor Highway section to Eagle but decided to do it anyway. The start of the road wasn’t worse than what I had been driving, so I kept going. And once I kept driving, there was no place to turn around. So, Eagle here I come!

Mile 112 Fourtymile Bridge Wayside

Fourtymile Bridge on the Taylor Highway
Fourtymile Bridge Wayside on the Taylor Highway

I stopped at Fortymile Bridge Wayside and walked down to the river. Miners and recreationists use the boat landing. The large parking lot was full of trucks and boat trailers.

There weren’t many other places to stop along this stretch of the Taylor Highway. The road was narrow with no shoulder. During the drive to Eagle, I only saw a service truck coming from the other direction. It was a lonely drive and I had the road for myself.

Abundant Restaurant on Taylor Hayway to Eagle

That used to be an operating Restaurant on the Taylor Highway before it was abundant.
Abundant restaurant on the Taylor Highway

I came across an abandoned restaurant further along the road. The rest of the drive there were no signs of inhabitants.

The road got narrower pretty quickly and rougher further along. Portholes, washboards, rocks on the road, warning shields about rock slides, and some areas with water drains off on both sides of the road. This 62 miles (100 km), rough mountain road is unsuitable for fainthearted people.

There was a guy parked at one of the bridges about 35 km before Eagle, taking pictures of birds. He was from Anchorage and was studying birds. He warned me about the road ahead and the rain coming.

As soon as I left the birder it started to rain pretty hard. But I knew I had to get to Eagle, whatever it took. I didn’t have enough gasoline to turn back now.

Arriving in Eagle Alaska

And, late afternoon, I did make it to Eagle Alaska!

Main Street in Eagle Alaska
Driving into the town of Eagle

Eagle Alaska

It was still raining and I parked in front of the library, an old log building, to check emails and messages. When the rain finally stopped, I walked down to Fort Egbert and the visitor centre, which was closed at this time of evening.

Only a couple hundred locals live in Eagle year-round. However, many historical buildings and interesting relics of the past remain here. Eagle has a large museum with six beautiful restored turn-of-the-century buildings. The active Eagle Historical Society takes care of the community’s assets.

Historically Eagle was an important riverboat landing. Today, the town is still a popular jumping-off point for Yukon River travellers.

I talked to a friendly young woman pushing a stroller with her little girl. She said that they used to get tours to Egale regularly. Sadly, during Covid, the tour stopped and they never started again. The community is suffering because of it and can’t afford to renovate all the old historic buildings left in town.

This charming village didn’t disappoint me. What a beautiful, special place with clean streets, rustic wood cabins and a walkway along the riverfront.

Beautiful cabin in Eagle Alaska
One of many beautiful old cabins

Accommodation and gasoline in Eagle

Falcon Inn Bed and Breakfast is right on the riverfront and looks like a good place to spend a night. Nearby is the Riverside Hotel with the ATM that didn’t work. The hotel also operates the gas pump across the road. I only had 1/4 tank for gasoline left and US$26 cash hoping to make it to Dawson City the next day. Luckily I carried two small jerry cans with gasoline on my roof rack which should be enough to get me there.

The hotel owner was super friendly and offered me to park in the hotel’s parking lot down near the river.

Eagle Campground

After securing an overnight camp spot at the Riverside Hotel parking lot, I checked out Eagle Campground not far from town. You pay $10/night in an envelope at the entrance. I had no cash left so I couldn’t stay. It was pouring rain when I arrived and no one was there, so I preferred my spot at the hotel parking lot. Still, this would be the place to camp for the night on a nice day.

Historic buildings museum Eagle Alaska
Historic Eagle

Things to do in Eagle Alaska

  • Take a historic walking tour of Eagle and visit Fort Egbert, established during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1899. The Eagle Historical Society offers the tour. You will visit Wickersham’s Courthouse, Eagle City Hall, the Log Church, Fort Egbert, Redmen Hall, the Customs Building Museum, and Amundsen Park.
  • Enjoy a beautiful sunset on a bench along the riverbank and look out for bald eagles catching fish out of the water.
  • Stay overnight at the local campground.
  • Arrange a multi-day rafting trip from Eagle downriver to Circle. To cover the 154 river miles between Eagle and Circle takes five to ten days.
  • Alternatively, floating the river from Dawson City, Yukon, 100 miles (161 km) upriver and across the Canadian border to Eagle is also possible.

Day 19: Drive from Eagle back to Jack Wade

Stay a day in Eagle and then return the way you came as far as Jack Wade Junction, From Jack Wade Junction, follow my Alaska / Yukon round trip itinerary to Whitehorse.

Road south from Eagle to Jack Wade Junction
From Eagle on the Taylor Highway back to Jack Wade Junction

A friendly local invited me to stay for the July 4th celebration but with no US$ cash in my pocket, I declined. Also, there was a walking tour at 9 am I was asked to join, but I used my last cash on gasoline and didn’t have the $10 for the tour, so unfortunately, I had to skip it all.

I left Eagle at 5 am. It was cloudy and I had to maneuver more potholes after heavy rain last night. Still, the drive went well and I was again the only one on the road to Jack Wade Junction. The road was paved from the Jack Wade turnoff to the Canadian border.

What a smooth ride it was after all the rattling of the Taylor. The Canadian border lady was super friendly. She asked what my favourite place was in Alaska, and I replied Eagle, of course. Welcome back to Canada, she said.

Evening scene, sunset and clouds
Evening scene along Taylor Highway

Tips

  • Check your spare tire and all the tire changing tools to ensure you have all you need if you get a flat.
  • (even extra fuel, since gas/diesel is not always available and it is WILDLY expensive)
  • The Taylor Highway (Hwy #5) is open seasonally from April to mid-October.
  • Conditions of the road can range anywhere from good to poor and depend heavily on weather and maintenance.
  • Only limited services are available along the Taylor Highway and no services from Jack Wade Junction to Eagle.
  • The Eagle Airport adjacent to the community (code EAA) has one gravel-surfaced runway.

đź”— LINK YOUR TRIP âž” YUKON AND ALASKA ROUND TRIP FROM WHITEHORSE

Eagle on the Yukon River is the end stop at my Taylor Highway Itinerary.
Eagle waterfront on the mighty Yukon River

Related links

Solo Yukon and Alaska Round TripWildlife – What you need to know
Yukon Travel GuideHow to keep safe on a solo road trip
16 Best Towns and Places in YukonRoad trip Planner for the wilderness
Ultimate Canada Camping GuideRAV4 Camper Conversion for Minimalists

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Yrene Dee

Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.

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