Vancouver to Whitehorse via the world-famous Alaska Highway is a 12-15 days road trip that takes you through history and untamed wilderness of BC’s north.
Note: This post is for travellers that have limited time and cannot travel for a long time on an RV. We are working professionals and have access to limited vacation days. We have to take advantage of every vacation day. So, we planned to drive to Whitehorse via Alaska Highway, and car camped throughout the trip of two weeks.
We were able to comfortably make this trip in two weeks while stopping at many spectacular viewpoints, historic sites, museums, towns, wildlife viewing, and parks. We broke down our journey so that we can drive between destinations 6-8 hours apart each day. However, we would drive slow and make frequent stops to enjoy the trip and complete those destinations in a longer time. We started our journey in the first week of August when the weather was perfect, and the daylight was still long in the north.
In only eight months, the construction of the 1600 mile Alaska Highway was completed (1942-43). It linked the community of Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska.
The highway project was deemed a military necessity to transport supplies and equipment from the USA to Alaska. The construction began on March 8, 1942. More than 11,000 soldiers and 16,000 civilians worked through harsh conditions while battling fatigue and hypothermia. Each day workers would complete eight miles of the road. The terrain was rugged and impassible as it passes through dense forest, permafrost, muskeg, and five mountain ranges. The surveying was another challenge, so it required the help of local first nation members, trappers, and bush pilots.
Originally the highway was named Alaska-Canadian Highway, which was shortened to Alcan Highway. Presently, it is the only land route to Alaska and called the Alaska Highway.
“Winding in and winding out, leaves my mind in serious doubt, as to whether the lout who built this route, was going to hell or coming out.” A poem by Retired Sgt Troy Hise, who was a worker on the Alaska Highway construction project.
How to get there
Sample of the Trip Plan (Two Weeks)
The table below is just a sample to get you started, and you should customize it based on your preference and time available for the road trip.
The map below is a breakdown of towns that you can stay to even your travel time between destinations.
Highlights of the Road Trip
Part 1: Vancouver to Dawson Creek
The drive from Vancouver to Dawson Creek will take you through Fraser Canyon, and beautiful landscape of rolling ranch-lands. You will have an opportunity to stop and enjoy interesting towns with many antique shops. If you can spare some time for a short side trip, visit Barkerville Historic Town (1 hour east of Quesnel) – Read our other post.
Likewise, we highly recommend that you should stop in Chetwynd to enjoy amazing chainsaw carving sculptures.
Part 2: Dawson Creek (Mile 0) to Stone Mountain Provincial Park
Mile 0 in Dawson Creek is the start of your Alaska Highway adventure. Don’t forget to take a photo with the Mile 0 Sign for your memories. The first few hours of your drive on Alaska Highway between Fort St John and Fort Nelson is an average drive through some flat area. There will be a lot of bugs on this stretch of road.
We reached Fort Nelson in the afternoon and stopped for lunch. After lunch, we restocked our supplies, including beers and continued towards our next stop Stone Mountain.
The real joy of driving on Alaska Highway was felt once we went past Fort Nelson. The roads became very interesting, surrounded by serene nature, and lots of viewpoints. After Fort Nelson, the traffic on the highway is drastically reduced. You will drive over the highest elevation pass on Alaska Highway, Summit Pass (elevation 4,250 feet/ 1,295 m).
Upon arrival in Stone Mountain Provincial Park, we were amazed by the beauty of the campground and the lake. . It is a self serve campground with a camping fee of $20 per night. We highly recommend camping here.
Summit Lake Campground was one of the most spectacular campgrounds of our trip.
Part 3: Stone Mountain Provincial Park to Liard River Hot Springs
Stone Mountain Provincial Park offers breathtaking views and remarkable wildlife viewing opportunities. Once you are back on the Alaska Highway, you will drive along McDonald Creek and Toad River through the spectacular landscape. There are many viewpoints on this stretch of Alaska Highway.
Your next stop will be Muncho Lake Provincial Park, which offers great trails and water recreation activities. There is a great campground and day-use area to relax and refresh.
The next stop is a must-see Liard River Hot Springs. These surreal hot springs are the second largest in Canada and offer a relaxing experience in a natural setting of the beautiful lush boreal spruce forest.
Read my other post for more information about Liard River Hot Springs. To stay in the campground, make a reservation between May and September. Reservation takes place through the Discover Camping website.
Note: This road trip is through remote and isolated places. Make sure to pack food, water, clothing, and extra supplies. There are no fancy restaurants or drive-throughs for the most part. Always try to keep your gas tank up to mark or carry extra fuel. In some areas, the gas stations are apart from each other.
Part 4: Liard River to Watson Lake
The drive between Liard River Hot Springs and Watson Lake has an abundance of wildlife. You can easily spot moose, bears, and herd of Bisons along the highway. Likewise, this stretch of road offers some spectacular views of the Liard River.
At Historical Mile 627, there is an official BC-Yukon border. After a short drive from the BC-Yukon border, you will arrive at Watson Lake.
Part 5: Watson Lake to Teslin
Watson Lake is ‘gateway to the Yukon’. It is the first Yukon community on Alaska Highway. We highly recommend that you should visit the Sign Post Forest, a unique attraction that has more than 90,000 signs installed by visitors from all around the world. Read our other blog post to know more about Watson Lake.
After visiting Watson Lake, continue on the Alaska Highway. After Swift River, you will enter British Columbia for about 65 km before entering Yukon again. There are many interesting stops along the highway.
From Watson Lake, you have to drive for about 3 hours to reach Teslin (260 km). Teslin is located at 1244 km (804 Mile) of the Alaska Highway.
As you enter Teslin, you will cross the last original steel bridge remaining on the southern Yukon stretch of the Alaska Highway.
Part 6: Teslin to Whitehorse
In addition to getting your gas and supplies, you can visit two interesting places in Teslin, George Johnston Museum and the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre. Read my other post for complete details about Teslin.
Now you are at the last stretch of your trip to Whitehorse. The city of Whitehorse is only 178 km from Teslin.
Whitehorse is a bustling community located along the Yukon River. It offers a great blend of wilderness, magnificent landscape, and history. Two major highways (the Alaska and Klondike) connect Whitehorse, which makes it a hub for transportation and a popular tourist destination. Read our post to know more details about Whitehorse.
For Mile to Mile information of the Alaska Highway visit The Mile Post.
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