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.
Yukon highways, iconic roads to adventure
Fast, wild and beautiful – a road trip on Yukon’s iconic highways.
Get behind the wheel and get ready for a road trip of a lifetime, driving the Yukon highways.
There is no better feeling than driving the northern highways and having the roads to yourself. Forget about traffic jams, busy roads and driving stress. Enjoy the fantastic scenery from desert and sand dunes to glaciated mountains and historic rivers. And finally, see wild animals in realtime. Enjoy the midnight sun during summer when the days stretch to almost 24 hours.
Alaska Highway: Yukon Highway 1
- Connects: Watson Lake to Beaver Creek
- Distance: 885 km
- Highway Condition: Paved
- Driving time: Approximately 9 hours 30 minutes
- Related link: British Columbia portion of Alaska Highway
The Yukon portion of the Alaska highway is winding in and winding out its way northwestward through wild river valleys and along tree-lined crystal clear lakes. The highway crosses many streams and rivers that are part of two great watersheds. The MacKenzie River drains to the Arctic Ocean and the Yukon River runs nearly 3,220 km to the Bering Sea.
In the west, the Alaska Highway parallels Kluane National Park and the St. Elias Range, Canada’s tallest mountains.
- Add a sign to the signpost forest at Watson Lake
- Experience the Teslin Tlingit Culture
- Camp at Kluane Lake
- Take a picture of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain
- Try to catch fresh fish dinner at a roadside stream
Klondike Highway: Yukon Highway 2
- Connects: Skagway, Alaska and Dawson City
- Distance: 717 km
- Driving Time: Approximately 8 hours
- Highway Condition: Asphalt surfaced in good condition
- Related Link: Klondike Highway Travel Guide
The Klondike Highway connects Skagway, Alaska and Dawson City, Yukon, the heart of the Klondike. From Skagway, Alaska the road climbs to the 1003 metre summit near the Alaska/Canada border.
Between Skagway and the border the road roughly parallels the old White Pass Trail, an alternative to the Chilkoot Trail. The Chilcoot was the shorter route for the gold seekers and therefore the more popular one.
- Get aboard the Scenic Railway of the World
- Visit the worlds smallest desert
- Pan for gold in Dawson City
Haine Highway: Yukon Highway 3
- Connects: Haines, Alaska, to Haines Junction, Yukon
- Distance: 235 km
- Driving Time: Approximately 4 hours
- Highway Condition: Paved, 2 line highway, open year-round
Highway 3 takes you to Haines Junction, a small community at km 1635 on the Alaska Highway. Enjoy spectacular views of mountains and glaciers, changing to forests and alpine tundra along the way. The road climbs up to an elevation of 1,070 metres at Chilkat Pass.
Although the highway is maintained year-round if you plan on travelling the route between September 1st and June 1st be sure to check weather conditions.
Check on the Canadian and US customs opening hours before the trip and bring your passport. Note different time zones between Canada and the US.
- Birdwatching – gyrfalcons, snow buntings ptarmigan, red-throated loons and other species
- Venture on one of the many hikes
- Fish for king salmon at Takhanne River in early June
Robert Campbell Highway: Yukon Highway 4
- Connects: Watson Lake to Carmacks
- Distance: 582 km
- Highway Condition: Both gravel and pavement, all-weather road, can be rough and slippery in winter
- Driving time: Approximately 7 hours
- Related Link: Robert Campbell Highway Travel Guide
The Robert Campbell highway connects Watson Lake (km 1022 on the Alaska Highway) with Carmacks (km 356 on the Klondike Highway). This is mostly a narrow, windy gravel road is an alternative route to Dawson City.
At Ross River, you can choose to take the Canol Road 210 km which rejoins the Alaska Highway at km 1345 (Canol Road Junction). Make sure to check for road conditions for the Canol Road, especially if you are driving a large vehicle.
- Travel slow and camp along the way
- Take a canoe trip down the Pelly River
- Explore the First Nations town of Ross River
- Spend time at the Campbell Region Interpretive Centre at the former mining town of Faro
Dempster Highway: Yukon Highway 5
- Connects: Klondike Highway to Inuvik, NWT
- Distance: 736 km
- Highway condition: gravel, open all year-round, ferry service or ice bridge in winter
- Driving time: Approximately 10 to 14 hours,
- Related Link: Dempster Highway – a road trip to the Arctic
The Dempster Highway (Yukon Route 5 / Northwest Territories Route 8) was completed in 1979. This is gravel and crushed stone highway which extends to Inuvik, an Inuit village 325 km above the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories.
This wilderness route takes you to extremely remote regions of the Yukon cutting through the rugged mountain ranges of the Ogilvie and Richardson Mountains.
During rain, the road from Eagle Plains to Inuvik can be pretty treacherous.
- Venture on a day or overnight hike in the Tombstone mountains
- Learn about permafrost and the tundra vegetation
- Pick cloudberries for breakfast
- Spend a night near the Arctic Circle
- Look out for caribou, grizzlies and other wildlife
- Visit the gravesite of the Lost Patrol at Fort Pherson
South Canal Road: Yukon Highway 6
- Connects: Johnsons Crossing to Ross River
- Distance: 220 km
- Driving Time:
- Road condition: gravel, rough, narrow winding road, one-way bridges and sometimes road closure due to washouts, closed to traffic in winter
- Related Link: 5 epic gravel highways
The Canol Road leaves the Alaska Highway at kilometre 1345 and cuts through the wilderness to Ross River, where it intersects with the Robert Campbell Highway.
The seasonal road takes you above treeline with scenic views of south-central Yukon’s wilderness. You will be travelling through the traditional territory of the Kaska and interior Tlingit First Nations.
The South Canol Road turns into North Canol Road past Ross River across the river and ends at the border of the Northwest Territories.
North Canol Highway
- Connects: Ross River to Macmillan Pass at the Northwest Territories border
- Distance: 206 km
- Road condition: Rough, summer road only
This north section of the Canol Highway is a summer road only with no services or facilities beyond Ross River. It provides access to the wilderness of eastern central Yukon and the Canol Road Heritage Trail.
The road parallels the famed and short-lived Canol, or Canadian Oil pipeline. Until the end of the war, it carried oil from Camp Canol near Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Johnsons Crossing, Yukon.
The North Canol Road is steep and narrow at places and can be extremely slippery when it rains.
- Grayling fishing on Ross River and dinner in the wilderness
- Driving one of the most challenging Yukon highways
- Test your wilderness skills in real-time
The Atlin Road: Highway 7
- Connects: Atlin, British Columbia, with the Tagish Road and the Alaska Highway at Jake’s Corner
- Distance: 94 km
- Driving time: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes
- Road Condition: Narrow and windy at some section but in good condition
- Related Link: Atlin BC Travel Guide
The Atlin Road turns south from the Alaska Highway (Yukon Highway 1), at 1.6 km from the junction with the Alaska Highway at Jake’s Corner, km 1393. The road parallels the eastern shore of Atlin Lake, the largest natural lake in British Columbia.
The road ends at the community of Atlin, located in the extreme northwest corner of British Columbia. Like other northern towns, Atlin was born during the great gold rush of 1898 when gold was discovered in nearby Pine Creek. Many historic buildings are still standing. To this day, there are active mining operations in the area.
- Discover the gold rush history
- Plan a kayak trip to the southern shore of Atlin Lake and hike to Lewellin Glacier
- Book a floatplane for a spectacular sightseeing adventure
Top of the World Highway: Yukon Highway 9
- Connects: Dawson City, Yukon to Alaska-Yukon border, where it becomes the Taylor Highway (Alaska Route 5) and continues to Tetlin Junction, Alaska
- Distance: 281 km
- Travel Time: Minimum of 4 hours
- Road Condition: Gravel and paved section, open from mid-May to mid-October, but possible to close earlier due to snow
- Related Link: 5 epic Travel Highways
As the name reveals, for most of the journey you drive along the peaks and crests of mountains and hills, leaving the valleys below. These mountains are rich with minerals and gold rush history and are the home to moose, caribou, and bear.
This gravel highway is winding and narrow in many places. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. The road is maintained only during late spring to early fall, depending on the ferry service at Dawson City. Border crossings are only allowed when customs offices are open (9 am to 9 pm Pacific time).
- Take a detour to the historic town of Eagle, Alaska
- Explore Chicken, Alaska, the frontier town with a special charm
The Nahanni Range Road: Yukon Highway 10
- Connects: 107.8 km on the Campbell Highway north of Watson Lake to Canada Tungsten Mine
- Distance: 200 km
- Road condition: Gravel, no services along this road
Shortly after leaving the Campbell Highway, the road winds through a pass between 2,100 m mountains and then the road parallels the Hyland and Little Hyland rivers towards the Northwest Territories border at Km 188.
The town of Tungsten (Cantung) is not accessible to the public and there are no services along the road. There are places to camp along the way as well as the small government campground at Km 84.
- Fish for Arctic grayling
- Paddle down the Hyland River
- Camp under the midnight sun
Silver Trail: Highway 11
- Connects: Klondike Highway at Stewart Crossing to Kino City
- Distance: 110 km
- Travel Time: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
- Road Condition: Asphalt-surfaced to Mayo and rough gravel to Keno, open year-round
- Related Link: Silver Trail Travel Guide,
The Silver Trail to Mayo follows the Stewart River through an area that once was the richest silver mining region in Canada. Pick up a Mayo Historical Buildings Walking Tour booklet at the Binnet House to have a peek into the history of the settlement.
After Mayo, the road turns to gravel and can be rough after a couple of days of rain. The road takes you to the old mining town of Elsa and ends at Keno City, the most unique frontier town in the Yukon.
- Visit the Binet House in Mayo
- Learn about the mining history at Yukon’s largest mining museum
- Hike up to Sourdough Hill
- Drive up to Keno Hill Signpost for a million-dollar view
- Stop in at Keno’s Snack Bar for the best pizza in the Yukon
- Find out about mushroom hunting in the Yukon
- Yukon Travel Guide
- MILEPOST – Alaska Travel Planner is the only Travel Guide you need for your northern road trip.