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Alaska Highway Travel Guide

Alaska Highway Road Trip Dawson Creek, BC to Beaver Creek, Alaska Border

Yukon Canada - Alaska Highway

The length of the Alaska Highway is 2,432 km. Of that, 1,048 km are in British Columbia, 907 km in the Yukon, and 477 km in Alaska.

More than 100 years ago, gold was the reason people headed north. Californian George Carmack and his Tagish Indian friends, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie struck gold at Bonanza Creek in the Klondike. This started the Klondike Gold Rush, which became to be the largest of history’s great gold stampedes.

Heading north you will follow the same route Jack London, Wyatt Earp and many of the old timers took.

The Alaska Highway opened in 1948 and is one of the most iconic drives in the world. The road to adventure starts in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and travels through the Yukon to Delta Junction in Alaska. Driving the Highway is not the challenge it used to be since the road is now paved and many services have become available.

Stop at the excellent visitor centres along the way and watch the historical videos they offer. Driving the highway will have a different meaning once you learn about its construction and the workforce involved.

How to get to Dawson Creek – Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway

From Grande Prairie, Alberta (two Routes)
  • Route 1 (132 km) – From Grand Prairie take Highway 43 west, which takes you into British Columbia. At the Alberta/BC border, Highway 43 becomes Highway 2, known locally as the Tupper Highway. Taking this route takes you to Swan Lake Provincial Park and Pouce Coupe before arriving in Dawson Creek, Mile 0 on the Alaska Highway.
  • Route 2 (174 km) – From Grand Prairie take Highway 2 north, then turn west onto Highway 49, known as the Northern Woods and Water Route. This route will take you to Dawson Creek, Mile 0 on the Alaska Highway.
From Prince George BC via Highway 97
  • Head north on Highway 97 to Dawson Creek (400 km).

Provincial parks – Three provincial parks on this stretch of highway make it easy to break up the journey and stop overnight.

  • Whiskers Point Provincial Park
  • Pine Le Moray Provincial Park
  • Moberly Lake Provincial Park

Buffalo along the Alaska HighwayAlaska Highway Road Conditions

The tremendous length of the Alaska Highway and its remoteness, as well as the harsh Northern climate often result in big surprises along the way. All of the Alaska Highway is paved and in fair condition. Still, expect some bad sections with chuckholes, deteriorated shoulders, bumps and frost heaves. Because of constant improvements projects on the highway, be prepared to drive long stretches of gravel sections. The Highway is rarely closed because of a weather-related event and usually never longer than a day.

It’s a good idea to inquire locally about the road conditions ahead of you and what facilities are available. In the off-season, many businesses are closed.

Dawson Creek Mile 0

Alaska Highway Sign

Before setting out on your trip, have a photo taken at the Mile ‘0’ post in Dawson Creek, then explore the Alaska Highway House for an introduction to the highway’s history and get a good kick-start on the Alaska Highway. Drop in at the Visitors Centre to pick up maps and brochures, as well as information about campgrounds and gas stations. If you have time to spend, go on a Downtown Historic Walking Tour, or tour the Dawson Creek Station Museum.

Dawson Creek to Fort St. John

Fort St John Sign

30 km north of Dawson Creek you can do a side-trip to historic Kiskatinaw Bridge, built by the U.S. military as part of the Alaska Highway. The 30 m high bridge was the first curved wooden bridge built in Canada. Today, it is the only original timber bridge that remains on the highway. Camping is available at nearby Kiskatinaw Provincial Park.

Kiskatinaw Bridge - Alaska Highway

Further up the Highway, the community of Taylor overlooks the mighty Peace River and offers a small town charm. The town has motels, restaurants, and campgrounds for its visitors. From Taylor it is a short drive to Fort St. John BC’s oldest non-native settlement.

Located in the heart of the Peace Country Fort St. Johns is the undisputed oil and gas capital of British Columbia and the largest BC city on the Alaska Highway. With many hotels, restaurants, and plenty of shopping Fort St. Johns is the ideal place to spend a night.

Enjoy the Fish Creek Community Forest Trails to stretch your legs. Watch migrating falcons, hawks, and eagles from the Beatton River Valley, 5 km from the city. Camp at nearby Charlie Lake Provincial Park.

Fort St. John to Fort Nelson

Back on the Alaska Highway head north from Fort St. John. You have a long road ahead of you, therefore you might want to have a few stops on the way.

4 km north of Fort St John, you arrive at Beatton Provincial Park with its long stretch of beach and excellent Walleye fishing. Charlie Provincial Park is located 6 km north and is popular for camping, hiking, and boating.

 

Alaska Highway Road House

Mile 80 Rest Area, a provincial rest area heading northward, is located by a river and has running water and flush toilets. Check the overhead message sign for road conditions further up the highway.

Pink Mountain

Pink Mountain Alaska Highway

Halfway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson is the tiny hamlet of Pink Mountain. Look west and you see the similarly named peak with a rosy glow at sunrise. For Pink Mountain Provincial Park turn west off the highway onto seasonal road #192.

Pink Mountain campsite and RV Park is one of the nicest campgrounds on the Alaska Highway, located at mile marker 143. Here you find propane, gas, diesel, along with Canada Post and BC Government liqueur Store. The campground offers shaded sites and fire pits, a laundromat, and clean hot showers and is open year round.

Soon after leaving Pink Mountain, you arrive at Suicide Hill, one of the most treacherous hills on the original highway.

Sikanni River Campground at Mile 162 located on the Sikanni Chief River offers seasonal gas, lodging, and camping with hot showers and free Wi-Fi. Some sites are right on the river with the Sikanni Chief River Bridge as a backdrop.

Sikanni Chief Campground

Driving north you get to Buckinghorse River bridge and to the turnoff to Buckinghorse River Wayside Provincial Park which has nice camping spots. With a few more stops on the way, you will be happy when you finally arrive in Fort Nelson.

Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson BC

Fort Nelson was established as a fur trading post in 1805 and later became “Mile 300” of the Alaska Highway. The town was a base for pushing the Alaska Highway through the wilderness. In the 1950s, forestry, oil, and gas took over. Tourism is gaining in importance as the town is getting known for eco-travel and adventure in the northern Rockies with its eight provincial parks located within an easy drive.

Visit Fort Nelson Heritage Museum for a close-up look at its history. Settle into the old-time theatre and watch a historic video how the Alaska Highway was built.

Fort Nelson’s Visitor Centre across the road is also worth a visit with very friendly staff offering WI-FI and a souvenir store.

With the world-famous Alaska Highway as its main street, Fort Nelson is the last major town in BC as you head north.

Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Liard BC Sign

From Fort Nelson, the highway turns southwest and begins to climb into the Northern Rocky Mountains through sharp bends, dramatic scenery and abundant wildlife. You’ll drive through Stone Mountain Provincial Park, featuring the Wokkpash Recreation Area. Here, you can hike beside the erosion pillars, the awesome stone sculptures shaped by wind and rain, called hoodoos.

Alaska Highway Summit

The highway winds through the park’s north end about 151 km from Fort Nelson. The park’s Summit Lake, at 1,295 m is the highest point on the Alaska Highway. Wild, rugged backcountry hiking can be found throughout the park. Be prepared to share the alpine tundra and deep valleys with stone sheep, caribou, moose, deer, and bears.Muncho Lake BC

Continue past Stone Mountain Provincial Park to Toad River and the valley below to Muncho Lake Provincial Park located 86 km north-west of Stone Mountain Park. Follow the shore of jade coloured Muncho Lake, the “jewel of the north” with its spectacular scenery, fishing and hiking opportunities. The area attracts large herds of sheep and caribou, which mostly can be seen at dawn and dusk. Muncho Lake Provincial Park is close to the highway and has two campgrounds near the 12 km lake.

The area attracts large herds of sheep and caribou, which mostly can be seen at dawn and dusk. Muncho Lake Provincial Park is close to the highway and has two campgrounds near the 12 km lake.

The area attracts large herds of sheep and caribou, which mostly can be seen at dawn and dusk. Muncho Lake Provincial Park is close to the highway and has two campgrounds near the 12 km lake.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park

Liard Hot Springs BC

Past Muncho Lake Provincial Park, it is about 60 km to the Liard River Hot Springs – a must stop! The hot springs are one of the great wonders of the North. A ten-minute walk from the campground in the park takes you to the steaming, soothing mineral waters of two hot pools. The unique ecosystem hosts an amazing diversity of plant life. The hot springs are especially magical in winter; by sub-zero temperatures. Rustic campsites, change rooms and a boardwalk to get to the springs are open year round. You are asked to protect this delicate environment by not bringing soap or shampoo into the waters.

Liard Lodge campground across from the Provincial Park is an alternative if the park campground is full, but the place was pretty dirty when I was there. I suggest you arrive early in the day if you want to camp in any of the park’s 53 campsites as they fill up quickly.

If you check your map after your soak, you’ll see that it is only another 120 km or so through the beautiful northern British Columbia wilderness to Watson Lake, Yukon.

It’s a 193 km drive through the beautiful northern British Columbia wilderness from Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park to Watson Lake. You pass through Coal River and other small communities on the way.

Upon leaving British Columbia (though not for the last time), it is only a short distance to Watson Lake.

Enter Canada’s Yukon at Watson Lake

You made it to the famous Signpost Forest! Watson Lake is the first Yukon community when travelling northbound and the second largest town in the Yukon!

Watson Lake Yukon

Watson Lake was an important construction camp for the Alaska Highway. As history goes, a homesick army soldier started the Watson Lake Signpost Forest in 1942, nailing up a marker pointing home. Ever since then, travellers have been adding signs from their hometowns to the growing outdoor forest.

Standing at the signpost forest you will see that it is 5,792 km to New York and 6,436 km to Tokyo, but only 455 km to Whitehorse.

Just behind the collection of signs is the Watson Lake Visitor Centre and museum, a friendly place with heaps of information. When I stopped in they showed the same historical video I had seen earlier at Fort Nelson. This is also the place to inquire about the Campbell Highway road condition if you are planning to head that way.

Don’t miss the Northern Lights Centre or walk the trail at Wye Lake Park. If you are in town in July, stay for the annual Watson Lake rodeo.

Services and lodging

The town has gas stations, automotive and tire repair, banks and shops. Several lodging options are offered in Watson Lake.

Camping is available at the Downtown R.V. Park on the access road to Wye Lake and at Watson Lake Yukon Government Campground, located 3.9 km west of the Signpost Forest.

Watsons Lake to Whitehorse

26 km west of Watson Lake is the junction with the Stewart-Cassiar Highway (HWY 37) which heads south into BC. Just west of the junction is Nugget City with accommodation, campsites, and food available.

Another 110 km west, past the1112 km marker look out for the Rancheria Falls Recreation Site. a short walk takes you to the thundering twin waterfalls.

Teslin

Tesslin Bridge Yukon

Teslin, located 272 km west of Watson Lake is the home of the Tlingit First Nation, one of the largest in the Yukon. A large part of the community still earns a livelihood by trapping, fishing and hunting and woodworking crafts, such as canoes, snowshoes, and sleds. Stop at the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre on the shores of beautiful Teslin Lake, 5 km north of Teslin to learn about the history and culture of the inland Tlingit people.

Stop at the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre and learn about the history and culture of the inland Tlingit people. The George Johnston Museum houses the Yukon’s largest collection of Tlingit artefacts.

Teslin Yukon First Nations Art

Johnson’s Crossing

Heading north from Teslin about 53 km takes you to Johnson’s Crossing, at the junction of Alaska Highway and Canol Road (Hwy 6). This side road leads 220 km to the Campbell Highway with a campground at Quiet Lake at 96 km. No travel facilities between here and Ross River. Check road conditions before heading out.

Gas and food are available at Johnson’s Crossing. Another 127 km will take you to Whitehorse.

Whitehorse Yukon Road SignWhitehorse

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and I highly suggest stopping here for a few days. It offers all the amenities of a big city, with a friendly small-town personality. Sip coffee in one of the coffee shops, browse galleries and pick up Northern art, enjoy local live music or get out of town on a wilderness adventure for a day or two.

Yukon Travel Camper RV

Whitehorse to Haines Junction

Continue your journey west to the village of Haines Junction. Take a detour along the way through the First Nations village of Champagne. Say goodbye to the flatland when you reach Haines junction and see imposing peaks looming over the town.

Haines Junction is the gateway to the Kluane National Park and Reserve and is an excellent base for exploring the park. It’s the place for mountaineering, backcountry or river adventure.

From Haines Junction, the magnificent Haines Highway heads south to Alaska.

Kluane National Park Yukon Mountains

Kluane National Park and Reserve

The Kluane National Park and Haines Junction Visitor Centres are open daily and offer information on camping, hiking, boating and other recreations. Heading west from Haines Junction, you will be speechless once you reach Kluane Lake.

With British Columbia’s Tashenshini Alsek Provincial Park to the south and Alaska’ Wrangell-St Elias National Park to the west, this is one of the largest protected wilderness areas in the world. The park consists mainly of the St Elias Mountains and the world’s largest non-polar ice fields. Kluane Lake is Yukon’s largest lake. Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain (5959 m) and the immense icefields are hidden from the road.

The best view of Kluane is from the air. Flightseeing tours are available.

Kluane National Park Yukon

Kluane to Beaver Creek

Drive beneath the towering peaks of the Kluane mountains and watch for wildlife. Visit Destruction Bay, 107 km north of Haines Junction on the shore of Kluane Lake. Most residents are Frist Nations who live off the land. Congdon Creek has a territorial campground on a lakeside located 17 km east of town. The last community along the park is

The next community along Kulani is Burwash Landing, with the excellent Kluane Museum. with wildlife exhibits and displays on aboriginal history.

Beaver Creek is the last stop before you reach the Canada – U.S. border and your destination Alaska.

Moose Yukon Canada

Tips for Travelling North

  • Visit DriveBC or 511Yukon on your laptop or mobile for updates on road conditions and construction activities while travelling.
  • For Information on Provincial Parks visit BC Parks or Yukon Parks
  • From Fort Nelson northward, internet connectivity is limited or unavailable.
  • In case of an emergency, while you are in the Pink Mountain area, or further north, don’t call 911, the service is not available in this area. Instead call Northern Rockies RCMP (250)774-2777, BC Ambulance Service (250)774-2344 or Northern Rockies Fire Rescue (250) 774-2222.
  • Watch out for wildlife that might cross your path.
  • Keep your headlights on during the day whenever visibility is poor.
  • Be aware that some gas stations can be far between.

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