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Solo Yukon and Alaska – Round Trip Itinerary from Whitehorse

A wilderness Yukon and Alaska round trip itinerary with a difference from Whitehorse with many side trips and places off the beaten track. Follow my footsteps for a road trip of a lifetime.

A wilderness round trip through Yukon and Alaska with camping and hiking is a wonderful adventure. You will travel through breathtaking scenery and camp in remote places. I ventured on this epic trip solo and have many recommendations and tips to share to help make your Yukon and Alaska Trip a success.

With ragged mountain ranges, magnificent glaciers, turquoise lakes and Arctic tundra, coastal towns and mountain villages, the far north is a destination like no other.

While most travellers head to more popular places like the Rockies, you might want a different adventure and plan for more remote frontiers. In this case, my Yukon and Alaska round trip itinerary will take you there.

Yukon and Alaska Round Trip Itinerary from Whitehorse

Driving route with side trips for independent adventure travellers

Having completed this epic journey myself, I put together a Yukon and Alaska road trip itinerary with a difference. Change my itinerary to your liking, make the trip longer or shorten it. Add the side trips or leave them out. There are many popular places I missed, partly because of bad weather. Please add them in the comment section if you like.

My journey started in Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon Territory on June 13th. Times and distances are approximate.

Table of Contents

Yukon and Alaska Round Trip Itinerary for the Route North

Even though I had no time restrictions for the road trip, I didn’t stay in Alaska as long as originally planned. Again, the reason was the miserable weather. However, this gives me a reason to return. Although, I missed the big cities and some popular destinations. I’m not keen on large cities, and tourist crowds.

And, I never visit a place just to say that I have been there. I always plan my route ahead and adapt to the situation as I go.

Whitehorse, the start of the journey

Whitehorse, Yukon’s Capital City

The first stop in Whitehorse is always the friendly Visitor Centre to use their WiFi and connect to the outside world. This is where you can pick up brochures and hiking maps for the Whitehorse region, the stretch to the Alaska border and all the side trips along the way.

Just behind the Visitor Centre, a stroll along the river trail guarantees excellent views of the mighty Yukon River. Spend a few days in Whitehorse and explore the city’s cultural attractions, such as the SS Klondike National Historic Site and the MacBride Museum. To get the most out of your visit check out my Travel Guides Whitehorse Travel Guide and Yukon Travel Guide.

I spent many days in Whitehorse during previous trips north. This time I had to stock up on groceries at the Superstore, where the prices are the most reasonable. Afterwards, I drove to the Walmart Parking lot where I spent the night with other travellers heading north. Big rigs were parked next to my RAV4, so I put up the curtains for the night for privacy. Always stop at the information desk to get permission for overnight parking at stores.

Book a tour in Whitehorse to get the most out of your trip

Day 1: Whitehorse to Haines Junction

Driving time: 1 hr 40 min (158 km / 98 mi)

Champagne Highway to Haines Junction

The stretch between Whitehorse and Haines Junction is part of the Alaska Highway also known as Champagne Highway. It was a cloudy day and a strong wind was blowing the day I hit the road. Trees and mountain views are plenty along this road.

Approximately 15 km from Whitehorse is the turnoff to Takhini Hot Springs if you have a day to spare. Takhini has been operating for over 100 years and boasts two connected hot spring pools to soak in. The International Hair Freezing Contest is an annual fun contest during the Sourdough Rendezvous in February. They also have a nice campground with 80 sites I can recommend.

The mountain and glacier views are fantastic along the Champagne Highway.

A place to stop is Canyon Creek Bridge at Mile 996 / KM 1548. This was an important link on the wagon road connecting Whitehorse and Silver City during the construction of the Alaska Highway. 

Canyon Creek Bridge and interpretive signs

Haines Junction

Just like on previous visits I stopped at the beautiful Visitor Centre at Haines Junction and walked through the large display about the region’s history, the land and the people. It’s a friendly place and the staff is always knowledgeable and helpful. There was a separate desk by Parks Canada where I got information, tips and detailed maps of hiking trails along Haines Road and up to the Alaska border.

Highlights Haines Junction:

  • Visit the Da Kų Cultural Centre
  • See the “Muffin” at the Village Square
  • Look for Our Lady of the Way Catholic Mission built in 1943
  • Stop at Saint Christopher’s Church and learn about its origin
  • Walk the 5.5 km Dezadeash River Trail

🔗 LINK YOUR TRIP ➔ 2-DAY SIDE TRIP HAINES HIGHWAY TO HAINES, ALASKA

Day 4 and 5: Haines Junction to Kluane Lake

Driving Time: Approximately 1 hr (88 km / 37.7 mi) Many stops and hikes along this stretch

Kluane Lake National Park Yukon

I arrived at Haines Junction from the Million Dollar Falls Campground on Haines Highway, where I camped last night. The rain finally had stopped but a cold nasty wind was blowing again when I left Haines Junction later in the day.

Although the wind didn’t stop all day, the sun came out a bit later in the day. It was foggy in the morning but lifted later.

I was happy that there wasn’t much traffic on the ALCAN today.

When I got to the Spruce Beatle Hiking Trail, it started to rain heavily again and I decided to stay at the pullout (with outhouse) for the night. Another car stopped there later on and spent the night. At least there was an outhouse, and garbage bin, quite a luxury these days.

Hopefully, the rain will stop in the morning and I can walk the 1400 m trail with interpretive signs about the nature of Spruce Beetles, up to the viewpoint.

Spruce Beatle Hiking Trail

Trailhead is 18 km (11 mi) north of Hanes Junction, hiking distance is 2 km (1.2 mi) to walk the loop with a maximum elevation gain of 930 m (3,051″)

Spruce Beatle Trail is an easy hike taking you to a viewing platform for a view over the valley. Interpretive signs explain how the spruce beetle contributes to the natural lifecycle of the boreal forest.

Spruce Beetle Trail with interpretive signs

I must have fallen asleep early last night, despite the rain. When I woke up, the other car had left already. I was parked next to the highway and noticed not much traffic on the ALCAN this morning.

Yes, the rain had stopped but a cold nasty wind was blowing like every day. I packed up my stuff, put on warm clothes and hiked through the spruce forest. The smell was different from the pine and cedar forests I’m used to. Spiky needles all around and small spruce cones along the trail. Interesting, reading the information signs along the way to learn about the natural circles of spruce trees and spruce beetles.

Ahead of me were people from Texas who arrived in a large trailer with their four dogs on the trail.

Today was going to be a pretty busy day. Also, the wind didn’t stop, at least the son came out a bit. In the morning it was all fogged in but lifted later on.

Kluane Viewpoint

Kluane Lake Viewpoint

My next roadside stop was at Kluane Lake Viewpoint with stunning views and display panels explaining the area’s history and geography.

Silver City, the largest ghost town in the Yukon

Road to Kluane Lake at Silver City Yukon

Silver City is 61 km (38 mi) from, Haines Junction and 5 km down a gravel road heading to Kluane Lake. I didn’t know what to expect. Ghost towns and history interest me, and this side trip became a special highlight of my road trip.

The road to Silver City ends up at a private property, with new houses and cabins. I walked the trail along the property line, lined with wildflowers on both sides, down to Kluane Lake. I could have driven to the lake but parked my car and walked instead. The mountain views, glaciers and the colourful landscape were stunning. It blew my mind. I was in total awe and so thankful that I came.

The old buildings at Silver City Ghost Town are slowly falling apart

The 120-plus-year-old buildings from the gold rush era slowly fall apart as the trees reclaim the land. It made me think about the people who used to live here, their lives and struggles, are all gone now.

I’m so glad Haines Junction Visitor Centre staff suggested Silver City when I asked about hikes and special places on the way up Beaver Creek and the US border.

There is no sign where to turn off to Silver City, but a mapping app will take you there if you decide to follow my footsteps.

Silver City Ghost Town and Kluane Lake

Arctic Institute/Kluane Lake Research Station

Institute of North America Yukon
Institute of North America

My next stop was at the Arctic Institute of North America where I found a gravel airstrip, large buildings and workers walking around dressed in hard-core work clothes. The large notice boards caution to watch for planes landing when driving on the road. I didn’t talk to anyone, I only took pictures and headed back to the Alaska Highway. Information about the Institut HERE

Sheep Mountain Visitor Centre and Sheep Mountain Trail

Sheep Mountain Visitor Centre

The next stop was the Sheep Mountain Visitor Center, staffed by Park Canada. I inquired how to get to the trailheads.

And off I went on a narrow 2.6 km (1.6 mi) gravel road to the Sheep Creek trailhead parking lot. I was hoping no one would come from the other direction. One car did and the passing went well. Then there was a car in front of me and its driver was worried about the road and decided to turn around. I kept going but was glad when I finally arrived at the trailhead parking lot. There were a couple of campers, vans and cars parked, but I didn’t see any people.

Sheep Creek Trail

The Sheep Creek Trail begins at the first right about 5 minutes from the gate. This popular trail climbs alongside Sheep Mountain and above Sheep Creek. It offers stunning views of the Valley as it opens up into the subalpine. It is a steady uphill climb.

The first viewpoint is about 2 km up the trail. This is a good destination and turn-around point if you decide not to go further.

Sheep Mountain Trail Kluane National Park

The return trip hike to the top is 10 km (6 mi) and takes 3 to 6 hours to complete with a maximum elevation of 1,281 m (4,200′) The trail is excellent for viewing Dall sheep in spring at lower elevations.

Soldier’s Summit Trail

Soldiers Summit Trail view of Kluane Lake
Soldier’s Summit Trail, Kluane National Park Yukon

On the road again and just 1 km (0.6 mi) from Sheep Mountain Visitor Centre on the Alaska Highway is the trailhead for Soldier’s Summit. The interpretive trail leads to the site of the official opening of the old Alaska Highway in 1942.

Soldier’s Summit Trail begins at the edge of the parking lot and follows the original Alaska Highway. It climbs until you reach a viewing platform with a large American and Canadian flag on high poles next to a remembrance stone.

This beautiful hike with benches along the trail provides stunning views of Kluane Lake and the mountains. Dall Sheep are often seen here in the spring and early summer.

Two iconic red chairs can be found on top of the hill. These chairs are placed at lesser-known stunning locations by Parks Canada.

What a great day this was. I walked in my T-shirt for a while when I was out of the wind. Mosquitoes were not a big bother today.

Wild Camping at Kluane Lake

Boondocking at Kluane Lake

It was getting late and I needed a place to camp for the night. I checked my camping app and ended up on the shore of Kluane Lake. Only one RV was parked further down and I found the perfect campsite with a fireplace between two large aspen trees, and a grand view of the lake.

This was one of the most beautiful free campsites I stayed at since I left the Okanagan. People I met earlier on the hike camped further down at the lake. Camp neighbours in sight made me more relaxed at night. I could hear the traffic noise but couldn’t see the road from my spot.

Because of the wind blowing, it was impossible to cook outside. Therefore I built a shelter inside my car for my mini stove. I left the backdoor slightly open and boiled water for coffee and tea for later on. My newest cooking station worked well, so I also cooked Quinoa, added cheese, fermented garlic and raisins and it tasted pretty good for a basic camp meal.

Congdon Creek Campground is also on Kluane Lake if boondocking is not your thing.

Day 6: Kluane Lake Yukon to Dead Man’s Campground, Alaska

Driving Time: approximately 3 hrs 30 min (281 km / 175 mi)

Car Camping on Kluane Lake Yukon
A great way to wake up in the morning

I left my idyllic boondocking site on Kluane Lake after my morning routine. After packing up camp, I tried to walk down to the lake’s edge but wet puddles between the rocks and sand prevented it.

At Destruction Bay gas station I noticed cell reception on my phone. That was the opportunity to send text messages to friends and family that I was alive.

I stopped at Burnwash Landing Museum to stretch my legs but didn’t go inside. The weather was grey, rainy and miserable I wanted to keep going to make it across the Alaska border.

Soon after Burnwash Landing the road turned horrific, rough gravel, with huge potholes and waves in the road. There were big road construction sites but I didn’t see any workers. To make the situation worse it started to rain.

Alaska Highway on the way to the Alaska border

Broken windshield wiper

And would you believe it, the windshield wiper on the driver’s side of my car fell off while it was in use. I stopped at the side of the road and stuck it back on, remembering that a cover piece fell off a long time ago and I had forgotten all about it. Now another piece broke off.

While driving the disastrous part of the Alaska Highway during a heavy rainstorm, I used the wipers only in slow motion. And then the wiper came off again and I stuck it on again. The rain got harder. I stopped on a side street and waited. Once the rain eased, I used duct tape to tape the wiper back on, just before the next downpour.

Snag Road Junction

Snag Road Junction came up shortly before arriving in Beaver Creek. If you’re up for an adventure detour, Snag is calling you. Snag is known for having the coldest recorded temperature in North America, at -63˚ C (-81.4˚ F) in February 1947. Snag Road is a 15-mile long narrow dirt road best travelled with four-wheel drive.

Beaver Creek and US Customs

Entering Alaska, here I come – Time change, Alaska is one hour behind Yukon.

I made it to Beaver Creek Tourist Information Centre. The friendly lady there offered to share some tips with me for the road ahead and gave me a crispy apple to take along. There was no Internet at the Beaver Creek Tourist Centre.

Once the sky lifted I left for Port Alcan U.S. Customs and Border Protection station, open 24/7 year-round.

Beaver Creek is a border community with a population of 110. Canadian customs is located north of town beside the airport. This place is also the scene of the contact point of the northern and southern construction crews maintaining the Alaska Highway. This border official wasn’t as friendly as the one on the Haines Road border crossing into the US a few days earlier. He asked twice whether I had food with me, eggs or chicken.

After I entered the USA I had to deal with more construction sites on the Alaskan side. I made a short stop at Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Centre.

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Alaska Visitor Center

The Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is a “must-see” on your list of stops in Alaska. Arriving in the US from the south on the Alaska Highway, you won’t miss it!

Tetlin Nationa Wildlife Refuge is nestled within the Upper Tanana River Valley. Abundant of wetlands and forests the Refuge is home to thousands of birds. Crowds of people crossing the border visit every year.

I arrived late in the day when the centre was already closed. The centre is open from mid-May to mid-September.

Dead Man’s Lake Campground, my first overnight stop in Alaska

I arrived at Dead Man’s Campground, Tetlin’s Refuge Campground Alaska around 7 pm.

My campsite at Dead Man’s Lake Campground, Alaska

The place looked just like the reviews I read. I drove the loop through the campground but all the spots were taken. I parked and knocked on the trailer of the Animal Rescue Park Volunteer and asked where I could park. He sent me to a lot close to the lake next to a trailer loaded with canoes. My RAV fitted next to it, and apart from the mosquitoes attacking, all was good.

Clean outhouses, garbage bins, park information panels, canoes and vests for anyone to use all for free. That was a great start to Alaska.

The sky was grey and looked like rain again. I was exhausted and settled into my mini car camper for a good night’s sleep.

Day 7: Dead Man’s Lake Campground

A beautiful boardwalk trail to Dead Man’s Lake with interpretive signs

I planned to leave and continue my journey on this grey-looking morning. When I got up, I tried to eat breakfast while fighting off the bloodsucking mosquitoes. Then the clouds started to lift a bit. I talked to a woman from Colorado who has been up here a few times and she suggested what Alaskan route to take. I then decided to stay another night and do some route planning. When the Colorado Woman left, I took her spot at the lake, #5, the best one in the park.

Then I walked the quarter-mile trail on the boardwalk and studied the signs explaining the boreal forest and plants. I learned about black spruce, labrador tea, prairie grass and more. Back at my car camper, I read in the Alaska Lonely Planet for a while.

The weather cleared up later in the day. Because of Sunday, many local families with kids arrived to use the canoes and swim near the dock, driving around with ATVs and having fun. It was loud because my site was close to the dock. By 7 pm they were all gone.

Dead Man’s Lake Dock with free canoes for use

Later I watched a huge camper bus pulling a car arrive at the dock. To turn around he had to unhitch the car from his big rig which was entertaining to watch.

Deadman’s Campground is a magical place and so peaceful. Birds were singing, squirrels were jumping around, and loons were giving their concert out on the lake. Yes, there were plenty of annoying black flies and mosquitoes around. This didn’t keep me from enjoying my surroundings. Mosquitoes and blackflies are part of the great white north. While writing this, I watched a small spider make a web across the pathway.

I wanted an early night, leave for Tok in the morning and spend time at the Tok Visitor Centre to use their WiFi.

The strong winds from the last few days were gone. Now it was just a comfortable breeze blowing. What a difference when the weather plays along. I bathed my feet in the lake. I would have had a dip in the lake without the locals taking over the dock.

In the evening other locals arrived with their kayaks. This is the perfect lake for it, the lake was so calm and pretty shallow close to the shoreline.

Day 8: Deadman’s Lake Campground to Tok

Driving time: 1 hr 20 min (103 km / 64 mi)

I left the campground fairly early in the morning. The park wasn’t that busy anymore, so it must have been crowded because of the weekend when I arrived. A cyclist arrived last night. I watched him filter water from the lake with the same filter I have.

Deadman’s Lake was one of the nicest official campgrounds I stayed at during this road trip. And Free! There was a box for a voluntary fee for supporting the Animal Rescue Centre.

On the way to Tok, Alaska

Alaska Highway, another gravel section

Heading to Tolk, the road was in bad condition with potholes, deep cracks and roller coasting in any direction. Partly there was no coating on the road, a rough road with no centerline.

The drive to Tolk on Alaskan soil was not as spectacular after the stunning Yukon scenery the past few days. I could see the Rangell Mountain Range in the distance but it was cloudy and hazy. The landscape was filled with the typical thin matchstick trees, ponds and boggy places.

I passed the Tetlin Junction turnoff to Chicken, Eagle and the Yukon border. This will be the road to Dawson City following my Alaskan round trip.

Tok, Alaska

Tok Visitor Centre Alaska

I stopped at the Tok Information Centre, a beautiful log building, and inquired where to get windshield wipers in town. I was in luck at Three Bear Sports Store and a friendly young staff member mounted the wiper for me. They sold single wipers, not sets like in Canada. Okay, that’s done.

At the Visitor Centre, I checked emails, posted on Social Media and sent out text messages to keep everyone up to date on my travels.

I stopped at Three Bear Grocery store to fill up on supply and my bank card was rejected. Fortunately, my Visa Credit card worked. Then I drove around the streets of Tok and noticed that they were all gravel.

For now, I wanted to continue the Alaska road trip and explore more of Tok later on the way back.

From Tok, I continued on the Tok Cutoff Highway towards Glennallen on another horrific road. Still, it was a slight improvement from the stretch before Tok. It ended up being a long day again.

Boondocking near a river

Lakes, rivers, mountains, and Alaskan landscape

I stopped overnight next to a river on the side of the highway. There was a day-use-only site further down, pretty nice but no overnights allowed.

The mosquitoes were awful, even with the slight wind blowing. I could hear the river from my site, but also the highway. Not the best place but okay for a night.

The sky was cloudy and grey again and it looked like more rain was coming.

It was a scary thought to use the outhouse up the hill. I visited first when I arrived and it was disgusting.

Tomorrow will be another day. Hopefully more enjoyable and I won’t be just driving.

Day 9: Matanuska Glacier Recreation Site

Mile 101 Glenn Highway

Walkway to Matanuska Glacier Recreation Site
Matanuska Glacier Recreation Site

Today’s drive started with grand mountain vistas; it rained on and off. Later the fairly busy road cut through mountain passes with various lookout sites along the route. It was another windy Alaskan day.

Exhausted I finally arrived at Matanuska Glacier Recreation Site after a long, tiresome drive. The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site is at Mile 101 on Glenn Highway. The recreation site has 12 campsites on a gravel loop road, water, pump toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables on platforms. My site was US$20/night and close to a clean outhouse.

The wooded camp area is close to a lookout with excellent views of the Matanuska Glacier. I met Brenda from California and we hiked the Edge Nature Trail, a 20-minute walk through the forest to glacier viewing platforms. Glenda travelled solo in a van and shared tips on where to go next.

Tonight’s camp meal was a lentil soup with dehydrated vegetables.

Day 10: Matanuska Glacier to Hope

Driving Time: 3 hrs 30 min (292 km / 181.5 mi)

Arctic Cup Coffee Shop near Matanuska Glacier
In Alaska, you never know what’s around the corner

Brenda left the Matanuska Glacier Recreation site before me the next morning.

It was good that I didn’t know what to expect when I finally was on the road. It ended as an unpleasant day with lots of driving through rainstorms and strong winds. I stopped at a small town called Satton to look for an Internet connection and found it at the town library.

The WiFi password was written outside the door, which is common at most libraries in Alaska.

The next place I came to was Palmer, a larger city. I didn’t stop and continued to Anchorage. That was a scary drive. I’m not keen on city driving and traffic jams on a busy four-lane highway. Across Anchorage, I stopped for gas and withdrew US cash from the bank machine. Because my card didn’t work at a store the day before I was worried it got blocked by the bank.

It was still raining when I was on the Stirling and later on the Seward Highway, which follows the Turnagain Arm. Amazing views of mountains and water but the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t even stay out of the car long enough to take pictures. This would be a stunning drive on a sunny nice day. I started to wonder whether there were any nice days in Alaska.

Driving on Seaward Highway on a windy day

I was out of luck with the weather and had to remind myself that I was in Alaska after all. The forecast was pretty bad for the next few days. I noticed many hiking trail signs through the splashed car window, but who would want to hike on a miserable, windy, wet day.

Once I passed through the chaotic city of Anchorage, I decided to drive on to the small town of Hope, on Hope Highway, about 20 km on a paved roller costing road.

If you are staying in Anchorage, check out the Portage Glacier Cruise and Wildlife Explorer Tour.

Hope, one of Alaska’s first Gold Rush towns and my new Scientist friend

Historic Village of Hope Alaska
Welcome to Hope Alaska

Hope was just like I imagined Alaskan towns to be, wooden surroundings, old log cabins, goldrush era relics, a general store and a museum. The charming Kenai Peninsula community also has a library and anywhere between 150 and 250 friendly people, depending on who you ask.

Hope Alaska hasn’t changed much since the gold rush ended. Today, Hope is a quiet, historic trip back through time. It is worth a side trip anytime on your way to Kenai Peninsula.

Unfortunately, the resident I met in front of the library turned out not to be a friendly one. First, he introduced himself as a Scientist, writing a book on how to influence people’s brains through Social Media.

After listening to him for a while, I interrupted and said that in my opinion, not all scientists apply facts and that Dr. Fauci was a good example during the pandemic. When I said that, the guy started to swear at me and scream to get out of the US. In the end, he took pictures of my number plate and a video of me and said he would call the police. He freaked out big time.

Hope Alaska

I never made it into the library. So I just wished him a good day and drove off. Unfortunately, this was a short visit to Hope and I wasn’t brave enough to explore the rest of the town.

If you get to Hope on a nice sunny day, stay for a while and explore the town. You might even be up for a 3-hour Turnagain Pass Rafting Float Trip leaving from Hope Alaska

Porcupine Campground, Hope

After this strange incident, I drove another 2 km to the end of Hope Road to the Porcupine Campground.

Set in a beautiful birch forest overlooking Turnagain Arm, this campground in Chugach National Forest has 34 sites with several sites directly overlooking the Arm, offering unique and spectacular views.

In nice weather, this would be a great place to camp. The campsites were paved and tables and firepits were located on the next terrace, steps leading up to it. I put the $13 camping fee into the envelope and dropped it into the payment box.

The miserable wet weather was starting to affect me. It was too wet and ugly to enjoy outdoor activities. I didn’t care to see the rest of the Kenai Peninsula in the rain, or Homer and other tourist places along this route. The weather was miserable, the traffic extreme and too many people on the road. Therefore I decided to head in the other direction instead.

Another windy, rainy and miserable night. There was a large warning sign that there were bears and moose sightings in the park. I couldn’t see the water from where I was. I stayed in the car, apart from a walk up to the outhouse.

Day 11: Hope to Girdwood and Susitna State Park

Driving Time to Girdwood: 1 hr (83 km / 51.4 mi)

I left Porcupine Campground pretty early, driving along Hope Road again. I noticed a place along this stretch where I could have parked for the night with a great view of Turnagain Arm.

No stopping at the Hope Village as I wasn’t keen to meet my Scientist friend again.

Girdwood

Girdwood to Palmer driving time: 1 hr 20 min (128 km / 79.5 mi)

From Hope, I drove back to Alyeska Road at Hope Turnoff and kept going towards Girdwood.

Girdwood Alaska - famous laundry and shower building
Girdwood laundry and shower, voted best in Alaska

Originally named Glacier City, Girdwood is a small ski resort in Alaska and on a nice day you can take the chairlift up the mountain and hike. It reminded me of a Swiss mountain town.

Highlights:

  • Girdwood Library – Free Internet connection
  • Shower and laundromat – The most expensive shower I ever had for US$ 8, but it was worth it.
  • Ride the tram at Alyeska Resort to the top of Mount Alyeska

According to a Canadian woman I met while doing the laundry, the rest of Alaska is fairly quiet.

I didn’t stop anywhere along the Seward Highway again because of the rain, but not as bad as driving it South. There were many signs for hiking trails, but hiking was not an option for me in the rain. Even driving through chaotic Anchorage was not so nerve-wracking this time.

This dreaded drive through Anchorage back to Palmer went well and was less stressful than the first time I came through here. There was less rain and a bit less traffic heading that way.

Palmer

Driving time from Palmer to Susitna Park: 1 hr 11 min (90 km / 56 mi)

Palmer is located on the Glenn Highway in the Matanuska Valley. With the backdrop of towering Pioneer and Twin Peaks and the surrounding Chugach Mountains, this agricultural community offers access to countless recreation opportunities if you decide to stick around.

I stopped at a supermarket to stock up on food. I didn’t drop in at Starbucks next to the Supermarket after I saw the US$7 price tag for a cappuccino. Before I left town it started to rain again.

Highlights:

  • Palmer Museum and Visitor Center
  • Colony House Museum, an original farmhouse from the 1930s
  • Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine State Historical Park
  • Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive – take this 81.6-km seasonal road forPalmer to Willow for a backcountry drive
  • Knik Glacier – Enjoy the amazing Alaskan backcountry while riding an ATV

Park Highway

Because the weather conditions improved, and there was less traffic, I decided to take the Park Highway towards Denali. The first stretch after leaving Palmer was still busy, probably because of work traffic at 5 pm. It thinned out after Wasilla, another larger town.

Willow, town in Alaska
The small Alaskan town of Willow

After that, I stopped in Willow and checked out their community campground but didn’t stay. The entrance road to the park was next to the Firehall. I had trouble finding the way out of the campground to get back onto the highway.

Willow is the place to book a Summer Dog Sledding Adventure, also suitable for kids.

From there I passed Nancy Lake and some other state campgrounds

Susitna State Park

Susitna State Park Alaska campground on the lake
Campsite at Susitna State Park Alaska campground

Susitna State Park is where I ended up for the night, right on the river used by local fishermen. Only one other camper and one tenter were there. It said $15/night but there was no place to drop off money so I didn’t pay.

Beautiful place but muddy streets and mosquitoes were a nuisance. The toilets were clean. I was pretty tired and nearly fell asleep while studying the map. Therefore I fell asleep early, but woke up again and chased mosquitoes for half of the night.

Day 12: Susitna State Park to Talkeetna and Denali

Driving time from Susitna State Park to Talkeetna: 39 min (49 km / 30.4 mi)

I left by 8 am and was back on Park Highway northbound towards Wasilla and Talkeetna. Park Highway was not that spectacular, compared to what I saw. Still, it’s world-famous because the road takes you to Denali.

Talkeetna

Driving time Talkeetna to Denali South Viewpoint: 58 min (81 km / 50.3 mi)

Funky Alaskan Town of Talkeetna

I turned off for a side trip to Talkeetna, a historic village, nestled at the base of North America’s tallest peak, Denali. The old railway town of Talkeetna is where miners, prospectors, and adventurers used to live.

Worldwide known as a mountaineering town, it’s the base for many sightseeing tours into Denali Park. On a clear day, you can see Denali from Talkeetna town.

Many old buildings and funky places were along the main street, but there was nowhere to park. The roads off the main street were unpaved and muddy from all the rain. An Alaskan R train was parked in the centre of the village.

Talkeetna Highlights:

Mile 115 Park Highway – Mikes Fleamarket

Thrift store Trapper Creek Alaska
Trapper Creek Alaska where you find Mike

Back on Parks Highway at Mile 115, I noticed some interesting old buildings looking like a flea market. A huge sign “Alaska loves Trump” was spread over an oldtimer car. After what happened to me with the Scientist in Hope, I had to stop to check this out.

And what a place it was! After entering the store I was greeted by Mike, an interesting old fellow wearing a Trump hat! He sat behind a desk and blended in with all the antique artifacts surrounding him.

Best of Yukon and Alaska - Mike's,store on Park Highway
Mike and his thrift store on Park Highway Alaska

He lived there over 60 years, he said, seven years before the road was built. At that time, they had to fly in. I had a great discussion with Mike and he gave me his business card and said, to contact him after the 2024 US election. What a guy. A few teeth in his mouth were missing, but it suited the character. That’s the types I was hoping to find in Alaska.

Meeting Mike was a highlight of my Alaska trip. A couple from North Carolina arrived while I was there, so I said goodbye and left.

Mile 134 Parks Highway: Denali Viewpoint South

Driving time to Denali Viewpoint South: 31 min (45 km / 28 mi)

My next stop was Denali Viewpoint South with a view of Mt. Denali, the highest mountain in North America. It didn’t look that impressive after all the mountain scenery I’ve seen lately, especially on the Haines Highway.

I walked a short trail up the hill to another lookout. Sucking mosquitoes were attacking me. Several large RVs, all of the same brand were parked in the parking lot. Overnight camping is free with picnic tables, fire pits and nice toilets.

I decided to continue as it was early in the day and head to Denali Viewpoint North, hoping to find the same setup there. And I did.

Grand view of Denali Mountain Range Alaska

Mile 162 Parks Highway: Denali Viewpoint North – camping

Several other campers were parked here for the night. This large parking area had picnic tables along the edge and great bathroom facilities just like Viewpoint North. The wind came up and helped to keep the mosquitoes at bay. I boiled water in my new camp stove I bought at Canadian Tire in Quesnel. The rocket camp stove was out of gas.

Sitting outside in my comfy camp chair, laptop hooked up to the Jackery and sun shining through the clouds enjoying the mountain views. Between the clouds, I got a glimpse of the mighty Denali, the tallest mountain in North America at a height of 20,310 feet (6190 m),

Camper’s view from Denali North

Trying to kill buzzing mosquitoes most of the night I woke up tired. A quick walk to the edge of the parking lot to take early morning pictures of the mountains and I was on the road by 8 am towards Denali National Park.

Day 13: Denali National Park to Nenana

Driving Time: 1 hr 8 min (52 mi / 83.8 km)

Denali National Park and Reserve entrance

Denali is six million acres of wild land, with a road leading through. The landscape consists of taiga forest, alpine tundra, snowy mountains, and North America’s tallest peak Denali. Wild animals large and small roam un-fenced lands. This is a place to find solitude, tranquillity and wilderness pure.

A short stop at the park entrance sign, before I continued as far as they let private cars go. A bus runs to the end of the park and stops at sights on the way. I parked the car at the gate and walked the Salvage River Loupe Trail. This is one of the few trails around Savage River. The loop takes you alongside its namesake river for a total distance of 2 miles.

When I returned to my car, the parking lot was packed and there was no space for newcomers. Get active early to miss the large crowds. A short stop at the Park’s Visitor Center before leaving the park to use the Wifi.

This was a short visit to Denali National Park and the weather was fantastic for a change.

If you like to experience the park more intensely, camp at one of the campgrounds inside the park and book ahead.
Buses take Denali’s visitors into the Park on tours, day trips, and camping excursions.

Savage River Loop Trail
Hiking Savage River Loop Trail Denali National Park

Popular hikes at Denali National Park

  • Savage River Loop Trail – 2-mile lope along the river
  • Triple Lakes Trail North to South – 9 miles / 14.6-km point-to-point trail, a challenging route, it takes an average of 4 h 30 min to complete. Triple Lakes is the longest trail in Denali, with a trailhead near the Denali Visitor Centre and another on Highway 3.
  • Mount Healy Overlook Trail– This trail brings you about halfway up Mount Healy. Great views await if the skies aren’t cloudy!

To recognize Mount Denali, look for the mountain covered with snow, it never melts up there. During the Gold Rush, the United States officially named the mountain “Mount McKinley” after President William McKinley. President Obama ordered the U.S. Department to adopt “Denali” during his visit to Alaska in 2015. For more information on the dispute over Denali’s name see this article.

Mile 248 Healy Alaska

Healy is located about 17.7 km / 11 miles north of the entrance to Denali National Park with a population of 970.

The town originally came alive as a coal-mining town in the early 1900s. Many of Healy’s residents still earn their living from the nearby Usibelli Coal Mine.

"Magic Bus" used in the film Into The Wild in 2007
“Magic Bus” used in the film Into The Wild in 2007

I stopped at the 49th State Brewing Company near Healy to see the famous “Magic Bus” used in the 2007 film Into The Wild, telling Christopher McCandless’s story. The Bus is located in the beer garden outside the brewery. I wondered how many visitors were unaware that this was a movie prop, not the bus Christoper lived in before he died.

The real bus, where McCandless spent the last months of his life, was taken to the Museum of the North in Fairbanks. That was after many incidents with tourists heading on the Stampede trail to the place where on September 6, 1992, the body of Christopher McCandless was discovered by moose hunters.

After the brewery stop, I continued another 56 mi (90 km) and considered staying at a road pullout but checked into Nenana RV and Campground instead.

Nenana Alaska campground office
Nenana Campground, Alaska

Day 14 – Nenana to Tok

Distance Nenana to Tok 255.7 mi (411.5 km)

I slept well at Nenana RV and Campground, 75 miles (120.7 km) north of Denali National Park. The campground seemed to be a family business, with a log cabin for an office. I filled up my large water jug, had a bite to eat and disappeared in my car. A couple of tenters were nearby. I was exhausted from the busy days, so I hung up the curtains for privacy, fell asleep quickly and never woke up till morning.

I headed for the shower in the morning, using the code to get into the shower and laundry building. What a great nice campground this was, I can fully recommend it.

Nenana Alaska

Taku Chief, the last commercial wooden tug boat on the Yukon basin

Before heading out on Parks Highway again, I wandered around Nenana, an old town with charm. In the main part of town, there was a dry-docked ship on display The Taku Chief was, according to its sign, the last commercial wooden tug boat to ply the Yukon River basin. The ship has been beached in this little park since the late 1970s.

I walked past a small grocery store and a closed coffee shop. A bus with German tourists parked nearby and they all took pictures of the boat.

Nenana is famous for its Ice Classic, a lottery based on guessing when the ice in the Nenana River will break up in April or May of each year, a tradition since 1917. 

Then I headed out towards Fairbanks. The first stretch was down a canyon on a windy road. The rest of the drive towards Fairbank was pretty boring. I didn’t stop in Fairbanks. The highway doesn’t go through town so it was easy driving.

North Pole Alaska

Driving time from North Pole to Big Delta Historic Park: 1 hr 16 min (118 km / 73.4 mi)

Giant Santa at North Pole Alaska in front of the Christmas Store

After Fairbanks, I was on Richardson Highway with beautiful lakes and rivers to stop along the way.

Arriving at North Pole I had trouble finding the famous Christmas Store. Streets have names like Santa Claus Lane, Mistletoe Land, and Kris Kringle Drive, and Christmas decorations and ornaments colour the city with Christmas themes all year round.

The famous largest Santa looks pretty weathered. The store has a large collection of souvenirs and Christmas items. The walls are covered with Dear Santa letters from children around the world.

At the North Pole Post Office, thousands of letters from all over the world arrive annually, addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.” Each year, community volunteers work hard to respond to each letter.

Big Delta State Historic Park

Driving time from Big Delta Stake Park to Tok: 2 hrs (187 km / 116 mi)

Big Delta State Historic Park

Before Delta Junction, officially the end of Alaska Highway, I stopped at Big Delta State Historic Park.

It’s a 10-acre historical park on the banks of the Tanana River, eight miles north of Delta Junction. This place lets you explore Alaska history on a self-guided walking tour through the roadhouse, several restored buildings, and a museum. A lady was there handing out pamphlets and a sign asked for a 5-dollar donation.

I continued to Delta Junction and connected to the Alaska Highway heading towards Tok to close the circle.

The tiny church at Dot Lake

After Delta Junction, the drive was nothing spectacular. I stretched my legs at Dot Lake and walked to the tiny old church. Closer to Tok, the scenery improved and mountains came back into view.

I noticed small, primitive cabins along the road. Houses are small in Alaska, maybe because it’s cheaper to heat small places during the long winters. Simple, small two-story places are common. I wonder whether it is because of the amount of snow.

I arrived in Tok Late afternoon.

Day 14 – 17: Tok Alaska

The Tok Visitor Centre was closed when I arrived last night but WiFi was working in front of the building.

Afterwards, I drove another 2 km to the Alaska Stove campground which I read great reviews about. I wasn’t disappointed.

Alaskan Stoves Campground and Hostel, Tok

Alaskan Stoves Campground in Tok

Located by a bush pilot airstrip in Tok at mile 1313, it is the first Campground on the Alaskan Highway when you arrive from the South, once you leave the Canadian border.

This unique campground had an open-air basic kitchen, a gathering place for campers. It reminded me of Robert Service Campground in Whitehorse before the Government took over.

Other campers showed me where to go because the campground was self-contained. Code for washroom, $20 fee into an envelope. Laundry and showers. Every campsite was equipped with a cast iron, wood-burning Alaskan stove.

A unique ‘Wood Stove’ cabin is also for rent, sleeping up to two people.

Outdoor kitchen at Alaskan Stoves Campground in

If you’re not into camping, check out the hostel, located at a different location, but not far from the campground.

Two more days in Tok

I had such a good sleep here at Alaskan Stoves Campground. I had coffee offered to me in the outdoor kitchen. No surprise I decided to stay another night.

Mid-morning I walked into old friends at the Visitor Centre. We spent the next two days together catching up on travel stories and enjoying great camp cooking.

Camp cooking at its best at the Alaskan Stove Campground

I met Chris, the campground owner, who shared his life story with me. He arrived in Tok in an old van coming from California many years ago. His van broke down in Tok and he had no money for repair, so he stayed in Tok. Now he owns the campground and the Youth Hostel in Tok. He owns the welding shop next to the campground where he fabricates all the Alaskan Stoves.

Day 17-19: Tok to Walker Fork River Campground to Eagle Alaska

Without the side trip to Eagle, Alaska, follow the Taylor Highway to Jack Wade Junction and continue on the Top of the World Highway.

🔗 LINK YOUR TRIP ➔ TOK TO EAGLE ALASKA ON TAYLOR HIGHWAY AND BACK TO JACK WADE JUNCTION

Day 20: Jack Wade Junction Alaska to Dawson City Yukon

Coming back from my side trip to Eagle Alaska to Jack Wade Junction I turned left onto the Top of the World Highway East to Dawson City, a distance of 78 miles/125 km. The Top of the World Highway is an extension of the Taylor Highway.

The Top of The World Highway to Dawson City

The road was paved to the Little Gold/Poker Creek border crossing, 21 km (13 mi). What a smooth drive after all the rattling of the Taylor.

The Canadian border lady was super nice. She asked about my favourite place in Alaska, and I replied Eagle. Welcome back she said. Please note that Customs is only open seasonally and NOT all day.

The Top of the World Highway was in great condition, gravel but wide and fairly smooth. I only stopped a couple of times to take pictures as this was not the first time I came through here.

Yukon River Territorial Park

Late afternoon I made it to the Yukon River Campground, on the Westside of Dawson, close to Dawson’s Black George ferry landing.

A rainy night at the Yukon River Territorial Park, West Dawson

The campground was pretty occupied but I found an empty spot after driving the loop. And then it started to rain and it didn’t stop all night and into the next morning. My car was parked in water puddles and mud.

This reminded me of another wet night a couple of years earlier when I was here at the Yukon River Campground sleeping in my tent and waking up under a dripping sleeping bag.

It had been a long day and I was tired. I had problems staying awake on the drive here, it was a scary feeling.

Day 21: Dawson City

When the rain finally stopped mid-morning, I drove down to the Black George ferry to take it across the Yukon River to Dawson Town.

Black George Ferry Dawson City

Not much had changed in Dawson since my last visit. A delicious cappuccino at the coffee shop on Main Street and a stroll around town made it a great day.

At the Visitor Centre, I talked to a guy from Ontario I met 4 years ago here at the Dawson City Visitor Centre. The guy recognized me, and what a coincidence. It’s a small world.

At noon was the Canada Day First of July Parade. It was pretty small but the streets were busy with tourists.

I stopped at the only food store in Dawson to buy fresh produce, in case I would detour on the Silver Trail to Keno City. Then I hiked on the 9th Avenue Trail, past the dog park up the hill and walked above Dawson City past old pioneer cabin remains. There wasn’t much left to see. The trail was muddy and wet and at some parts, water ran down the trail like a little stream.

The rest of the day I walked around Dawson and enjoyed the vibe.

The lady at the visitor centre allowed me to camp at their parking lot for the night because the campgrounds in the area were full.

Day 22: Another Day in Dawson City

Busy streets during the Canada celebration on July 1st

Other vans were parked at the Visitor parking lot last night. So the toilet at night was a bit of a problem. Fortunately, my curtains were up for the night and I could use my emergency toilet.

It’s hard to get bored walking around Dawson City. In the afternoon I drove up to the Midnight Dom for the great view over Dawson and noticed the No Overnight sign. Later I met up with friends from the Okanagan BC and joined them across the ferry to the Yukon River campground. They came up the North Klondike today and complained about the condition of the highway.

Make sure to check out my Dawson City Travel Guide.

Side Trips from Dawson City

Day 23: Dawson City to Keno City, Yukon

Driving Time to Keno City: 3 hr 30 min hours (287.8 km/ 178.8 mi) via Klondike Hwy

Driving time from Dawson City to Stewart Crossing and the start of the Silver Trails to Keno City is 2 hours (179.3 km / 111.4 mi).

Start of the Silver Trail at Stewart’s Crossing

Spend at least one night in Keno City to get a feel for one of the last frontier towns in Yukon.

  • Klondike Highway Travel Guide – for the trip from Dawson City to Whitehorse, use this guide in the opposite direction
  • The Silver Trails – At Stewart Crossing take the Silver Trail to Mayo and Keno City, 1 hr 30 min (110.4 km)

Day 24: Keno City, Yukon

Keno City Mining Museum

Keno City, the end of the Silver Trail – Explore my favourite Yukon City, population 20. Drive up to spectacular Keno Hill (camp up there if you like), hike up Mount Haldane, have a pizza at Mike’s Snack Bar, a beer at the pub, and visit the museum. Spend a night at the Lightening Creek Campground or ask Mike at the Snackbar for rustic accommodation.

Day 25: Keno City to Whitehorse

Driving Time: 5 hrs 25 min ( (464.2 km /288.4 mi)

Take the Silver Trail back to Stewart Crossing, 1 hr 3 min (110.4 km) and continue on Klondike Highway #2 to Whitehorse.

Suggested Side Trips from Whitehorse

🔗 LINK YOUR TRIP ➔ SKAGWAY ALASKA, 2 NIGHTS

Tips for Yukon and Alaska Road Trip

  • Border Crossings – Make sure your travel documents are in order. Crossings between Yukon and the USA are usually easy and fast. Don’t bring meat or eggs. Check the government sites for up-to-date information.
  • Tourist Information – Visitor Centre, always my first stop in Canada and the US. They offer local information, free maps and brochures.
  • Cell phone – Long stretches of Yukon and Alaskan Highways are without cell phone service. Service will also depend on your U.S. provider’s coverage in Canada or your Canadian provider’s coverage in the U.S.
  • Libraries – Most of the libraries offer free Internet. Unless they have an open network, you often find the password at the library entrance (in Alaska).
  • Currency – Many campgrounds and some businesses along the way only take cash, Bring cash in both currencies! Don’t rely on credit cards unless you’re in a larger place.
  • Camping – Many private and government campgrounds are available in Yukon and Alaska. For Government Campgrounds, you will need cash. Check out Free Camping in Canada and Ultimate Canada Camping Guide for the Canada portion of the trip.
  • For booking other accommodation and best prices, I suggest booking.com
  • Don’t forget Travel Health Insurance for your trip to Yukon and Alaska

Related links

Taylor Highway Itinerary Tok to Eagle AlaskaWildlife – 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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Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

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Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are looking for accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

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Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

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Top Tour Companies for Best Tours
Get the best out of your vacation and check out GetYour Guide and Viator for the top tours available at your destination. Book tours in advance for a unique and hassle-free journey.
TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
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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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