We had spent the morning finishing our exploration of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. By noon, we were ready to head south on the Klondike Highway to Skagway, Alaska. In the distance we could see Montana Mountain.
We stopped at Emerald Lake also known as Rainbow Lake. The colors of the water…WOW. They are the result from blue-green light waves reflecting off the white sediment bottom, called marl. It consists of fragments of shell mixed with clay.
The Klondike Highway has the distinction of being home to the world’s smallest desert. The Carcross Desert is an International ecological studies site. It is composed of sandy lake bottom material left by a glacial lake. Jim wanted to make sure we got a picture of the pick-up sitting in the smallest desert.
The town of Carcross sits on the shore of Lake Bennett. It was formerly known as Caribou Crossing but was shortened due to duplication of names with other towns in the area. It also is near the Nares Bridge that crosses the narrows between Lake Bennett and Nares Lake. This area was important to the Gold Stampeders of the Klondike Gold Rush, as after they climbed either the Chilkoot Trail or White Pass from Skagway, they would have to build a raft to navigate Lake Bennett before floating the Yukon to Whitehorse. We walked across the bridge and got a great view of the railroad bridge at the narrows of Lake Bennett.
The highway winds along Tagish Lake’s Windy Arm. We stopped for a picture at the Bove Island turnout. The Island was named for an Italian naval officer who was with a 1872 exploration party.
Windy Arm was beautiful with the clear weather and the abandoned mine building only added to the scenery.
We enjoyed a hint of fall colors and a small spring.
It seemed that we had endless views of the lakes. Tutshi Lake was exceptionally impressive with the mountains in the distance.
We crossed over the White Pass and Yukon Route tracks. This is a Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site. Stampeders would stop here to rest after their difficult climb from port. The cabin was for the North West Mounted Police customs checkpoint.
Just before the Canada and US border is Bernard Lake. Tormented Valley is seen behind the lake. It is a very harsh landscape.
Fraser is where the current Canadian customs checkpoint is now located. This is also the turnaround point for the Scenic White Pass and Yukon Route train that come out of Skagway. It mostly used for cruise passenger tours. The US checkpoint is far down the road.
The area around Summit Lake is often referred to an a “moonscape”.
After Summit Lake, you start a sharp decline toward Skagway. There is a unique suspension bridge on the South Klondike, known as the William Moore Bridge. It spans 110 feet over the top of Moore Creek, 180 feet below. The bridge is currently being renovated, so no really great pictures as it was a no stopping zone.
We stopped to admire a waterfalls. The mist coming off of it was insane….
There was a display about Dead Horse Trail. It pointed out that you could see part of the old trail across the canyon. It is just below the train cut. Stampeders would load the horses with supplies. Many horses did not survive the climb. The horses were discarded along the trail, hence the name. They say the stench was horrendous.
We decided to stop in a turn-out to have lunch. As luck would have it, the WP-YR train came by on the opposite side of the canyon. In 2006, we went on a family cruise to Alaska, with Skagway being one of our stops. We drove up the highway and then at Frasure boarded the train for the trip back, so it was fun to watch the train.
We stopped for pictures at border. There is an interesting “statue” that has been erected by the Kiwanis Club, we really like what was written on the plaque.
We made it to Skagway in the late afternoon. We had our daughter’s college mascot with us and figured this was a good place to take his picture. We found a tent spot at Garden City RV park. You had to pay $1.00 extra per for a shower, but the wi-fi was free.
After getting settled in, we thought about doing some laundry, but it closed at 7:00pm, so we headed to town to watch the sunset. The cruise ships were still in port and the train had beat us to Skagway.
We walked across the foot bridge over the Skagway River. There were several trails, we decided on Yakutania Point.
It was quiet and beautiful. We sat on the rocks and watched the fog roll in. It doesn’t get any better than that….
We stopped at the store and bought some chips. It was the end of the season, so only one variety left…blue corn tortilla chips. Went back to the campground and had chicken taco salad. We had a beautiful view of the valley, a great way to end the day.
Tomorrow, we would explore Skagway in the morning and catch the vehicle ferry to Haines in the afternoon.