Klondike Highway Travel Guide
Skagway, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon
The Klondike Highway (Hwy #2) is the main north-south travel route in the Yukon and links the Alaskan coastal town of Skagway to Yukon’s Dawson City and the Klondike gold fields. The ferry dock at Skagway is the official start of the Klondike Highway; the road stretches 191.7 km north to the Junction of the Alaska Highway.
Klondike Highway South – Skagway to Whitehorse
From Skagway, Alaska the South Klondike climbs up to the famous Chilkoot Pass before crossing into stunning alpine scenery passing many rivers, lakes, and pullouts with spectacular viewpoints.
The South Klondike Highway connects to the Yukon Communities of Carcross and Whitehorse and joins up with the Alaska Highway just south of Whitehorse. The entire road follows roughly the trail of the gold stampeders of 1898 and is full of historical facts.
Klondike Highway North – Whitehorse to Dawson City
Right after joining the North Klondike Highway on your journey to Dawson, keep an eye out for the turnoff to Takhini Hot Springs if you like a hot dip.
Just north of Whitehorse, the Klondike passes by the foot of Lake Laberge, known for Robert Service’s famous poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee”.
25 km further north you come to Fox Lake, and Twin Lakes, 23 km before Carmacks. The Fox Lake Burn shows the power of a forest fire and the slow forest recovery in the North.
Government campground with shelters and pump water are located along the way.
As you travel the north, the highway cuts through the breathtaking scenery of boreal forest and high open alpine valleys. History is alive at every corner.
Carmack is located 199 km north of Whitehorse, a village of 500 sitting right on the Yukon River. Named after the discoverer of the Klondike Gold strike, Georg Washington Carmack, it was a major refuelling stop for the sternwheelers travelling between Whitehorse and Dawson. This is the first major community you come across after leaving Whitehorse and heading north. Like all other communities along the Klondike, Carmacks has its own boom-and-bust stories, local historical and cultural sites.
A good reason to stop is the excellent Tagé Chao Hudän Interpretive Centre where learn about aboriginal life past and present. Like elsewhere in the Yukon, residents here make use of the land which supplies them with game and fish throughout the year. A 15 minutes interpretive walk by the river provides some insight into their life.
Carmacks offers all major services for visitors passing through. It has the largest grocery store between Whitehorse and Dawson, a good place to stock up and a pleasant place to stop and spend the night.
Often called the “hub of the Yukon” because of its location at the junction of the Klondike and the Campbell Highway, it also remains a popular stop for people canoeing the Yukon River.
The Visitor Information Centre is located at the Old Telegraph Office on River Road.
Carmacks is also the Junction with the Robert Campbell Highway #4 which connects to Watson Lake and Carmacks.
Five Finger Rapids
An important attraction you don’t want to miss is the Five Finger Rapids, located a short distance north of Carmacks. The treacherous rapid posed a major navigational hazard to riverboat skippers on the route upriver from the gold fields. A long stairway and a trail lead 1.5 km to the famous rapids and the Yukon River Valley.
Easily missed, unless you’re travelling by canoe or Kayak. A short road leads to Minto, the site of an old settlement. In 1898, the Yukon River froze up and many gold seekers, forced to winter here, starved to death.
Minto is about 72 km north of Carmacks and it is a popular place to start the four to five-day trip down the Yukon River to Dawson City.
Pelly Crossing is the home of the Selkirk First Nation and has a population of about 300. The village is located on the banks of the Pelly River; 282 km north-west of Whitehorse and 254 km south-east of Dawson City. The Selkirk First Nation runs all facilities in the town including the Heritage Centre.
The small settlement has a post office, gas station, grocery store, RCMP detachment, Yukon government campground and dump station.
Stewart Crossing is another popular place to launch a canoe, located at the junction of the Klondike Highway and the Silver Trail on the south side of the Stewart River. Facilities include a lodge, campground and a service station. Stewart Crossing is situated on the Tintina Trench.
From Stewart Crossing you can venture a side trip to the old silver mining towns of Mayo, Elsa and Keno on the Silver Trail.
Silver Trails Information Center and rest area at the south end of the bridge. Highway 11 leads northeast to Mayo, Elsa and Keno.
DETOUR – Silver Trail Highway #11
To tour the Silver Trail and the communities Mayo (51 km), Elsa (97 km), and Keno City (112 m) turn east at km 535.1 which is junction #11 Silver Trail.
The remote The Silver Trail region has some of the most amazing terrains in the Yukon. Rolling hills, roaring rivers and plenty of wildlife with less than 450 year-round residents make this trip more than worthwhile. The area is rich with history and the communities of Mayo and Keno City are historic and scenic.
The road is paved to Mayo and gravel to Keno. This was one of Canada’s richest silver mining areas. This area widely prospected in the early 1900’s, but it was the strike of Louis Bouvette in 1919, that made the area famous.
Note: There are no gas stations or groceries stores after Mayo.
Time recommended: Minimum 2 nights.
North to Dawson City
From Stewart Crossing, the Klondike Highway continues for 139 km to the junction with the Dempster Highway. From here ist’s only 40 km to Dawson City.
DETOUR – Dempster Highway #5
The Dempster Highway is a road trip for adventurous travellers only. The 742 km gravel road is Canada’s first all-weather road to cross the Arctic Circle and ends in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The trip includes two ferry crossings.
Welcome to Dawson City
Welcome to the Wild West town of Dawson City.
From Dawson City you have several options for continuing your journey:
- Return to Whitehorse by road or by air;
- Head north to the Arctic on the Dempster Highway;
- Drive across the Top of the World Highway to Alaska;
- Travel down the Yukon River to Eagle, Alaska by boat.
Where to stay
During the summer months, it is important to make reservations when you travel in the Yukon. Check for accommodation and available dates.
Where to camp
You have plenty of camping choices along the Klondike Highway. For information on campgrounds and recreation site, go to the Yukon Campgrounds website.
- The Klondike Highway is a two-lane asphalt road and is open all year round.
- Watch out for wildlife.
- Gas stations can be far apart.