Carcross Desert in Yukon Territory with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Today we are leaving the Alaska highway and going to Skagway.   Skagway is a port city in Alaska.   The Alaska Sate ferry, part of the Marine Highway stops here.   Skagway is a very popular cruise ship port.   It is also one of the few cities in southeast Alaska that are accessible by roads.   We will see tourist stops in Skagway, something missing from most of our road trip.   Let’s go.

Whitehorse, south to Carcross and continuing to Skagway

You have to see Carcross, Yukon Territory.   Carcross, Canadian Yukon Territory, situated on the shores of Lake Bennett, was formerly known as Caribou Crossing.

Carcross, YT on shore of Lake Bennett

But there was a problem.   The Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska all had towns named Caribou Crossing.  Mail delivery wasn’t so good.   So, now we have Carcross in the Canadian Yukon.

Carcross Visitor’s Center with Welcome Man Crest

The Yukon Visitor’s Center here has the “Welcome Man” crest.   As do the community buildings.

Carcross Community buildings

Also featured are totem poles.

Totem poles

These are made by Native carver, Keith Smarch.   Carcross was a stopping place for gold stampeders in the late 1890s.   It was also a stopping place on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad during that same gold rush.   But there is something special about Carcross.   It is home to the world’s smallest desert.

Carcross Desert

This small desert is 640 acres or 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers).   Carcross Tagish First Nation has constructed a single track bike trail which attracts international cyclists.

Carcross Desert

This desert has mountains for a background and some trees.

Carcross desert along road

Carcross desert is right along the highway.   But it is really a desert?

Desert? Ancient lake bed?

It has been called the world’s smallest desert, but we learned that really is the remains of an ancient lake.   And insects?

Rare insects

This is the home to some rare insects and some even more rare insects that are only found here, in the Carcross Desert.

Carcross desert

One more view of the world’s smallest desert, with our dog Chloe.   A few miles north of Carcross Desert is Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake

We Colorado Traveling Ducks love this lake.   It is sometimes referred to as Rainbow Lake.

Emerald Lake

Aren’t the colors fantastic?   We love the green in the water.   Our guide book says the color comes from blue-green light waves, reflecting off the white sediment of the lake bottom.   This white sediment, called marl, consists of fragments of decomposed shell mixed with clay.

Emerald Lake

But we just think it is beautiful.   If you drive between Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and Skagway, Alaska, be sure to stop and admire these lakes, and explore Carcross Desert.

Colorado Traveling Ducks Ride on the Yukon River

Captain Ken and his boat are on the Yukon River just south of downtown Whitehorse.

Captain Ken and our boat

Let’s get on the boat.   No other passengers, just 2 humans, 3 ducks and 1 dog with Captain Ken.

Heading down the Yukon

Heading down the Yukon.   The sun is sometimes out, but it is still cold.   Jackets and life vests keep the humans warm.  The wind from boating down the Yukon is cold, and rather strong.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, are staying warm and safe in our travel bags.  That first picture is our only appearance on the Yukon River boat trip.

Entering Miles Canyon on Yukon River

Entering Miles Canyon, we are amazed at the green water.   Soapy’s mom and dog are in the front of the boat.

Historic Canyon City. Not much left now

This bench and sign is the only remains of Canyon City.   Canyon City was important as early miners waited here for transport through the canyon.

The Yukon River widens

We are now at a wider part of the Yukon River.

Eagles on the Yukon

These eagles did not pay much attention to us, but we noticed them.  Captain Ken docked the boat on the banks of the Yukon so we could get out, stretch our legs, and walk around.

Chloe on ridge along Yukon River

Chloe immediately climbed this steep hill for a better view.

Chloe coming down to Yukon River

Then decided to dash back down.

Chloe in the Yukon River

Climbing and running must have made Chloe thirsty.   The water is very cold and drops off fairly close to the edge.   But Chloe was careful.   Before heading back, Captain Ken had a contest about finding something that was not natural.   A little confusing, but Soapy’s mom found it.   A faint peace sign had been put on a mountain.  Not a good photo.   Soapy’s mom’s prize was a native blue rock.

We like native rocks. This is Soapy’s mom’s prize

It is pretty, but here it almost looks like and M & M candy.   The contest was fun and made us really look at the river bank.

Practicing for Yukon River Quest

We are heading back now.   These people are practicing for the Yukon River Quest.   That is the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race.  Stand Up Paddleboarding is also included in the race, beginning in 2016.   They race 444.28 miles (715 km) from Whitehorse northwest to Dawson City, Yukon Territory.   The race began Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at noon.   The race will end 9:00 pm Saturday June 29, 2019.   This, the 21st year, there were 117 vessels, a new record, that competed.

Still patches of snow along Yukon

Back in Miles Canyon we again admire the green water and see the snow still on the canyon wall.   The canyon wall is basalt lava flows and cones that erupted and flowed across an ancient pre-glacial landscape in south central Yukon.   This was formed 8.5 million years ago.   Captain Ken said the lava seeped through the rock walls.   These balsalt walls are fascinating to see.  During the gold rush days, cruising this canyon was trecherous because of the White Horse Rapids.

Generating power on the Yukon

This hydroelectric power plant has tamed the White Horse Rapids, and provides power to the city of Whitehorse.

Almost back to our Jeep

Almost ready to dock and return to our Jeep.   We loved our trip on the Yukon River.   It was chilly, but we are so glad we went.  A great 3 hour trip!   You would enjoy a river trip also.

Kluane Lake to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are leaving the beautful Lake Kluane.

Leaving Kluane Lake

About an hour later we arrived at Haines Junction.

Passing through Haines Junction. With mandatory stop for gas

We stayed here on the way north.   This is really is a Junction.   You can drive to Haines, Alaska, a port city, or continue south on the Alaska Highway.  A rule of travel in the far north.   Never pass a gas station.   The next one may be closed or out of fuel.   So we stopped in Haines Junction for gas and fresh sodas.

Alaska highway heading to Whitehorse, Canadian Yukon

We are continuing south towards Whitehorse.   Arriving in Whitehorse, we walked along the Yukon River.

Evening on bench along Yukon River in Whitehorse

We appreciate the many benches along the river.

Totem Pole. Downtown Whitehorse

This totem pole downtown by the river, is such a wonderful reminder of the native Athabascan history.

Stools near Yukon River. Whitehorse

These nearby stools are dediated to the Whitehorse Mission School, 1947-1960.

White Pass & Yukon Route Train station in Whitehorse

The White Pass and Yukon Route train station was the end of the train between Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse during the gold rush of the late 1890’s.  The narrow gauge train stopped running in 1982.   When my mom was younger, she and Soapy’s mom, her daughter, flew from Fairbanks to Whitehorse and took that train to Skagway.   They say it was beautiful!

Whitehorse train station also start and finish line for Yukon Quest dog race

This Whitehorse train station is also the Official Start/Finish line for the Yukon Quest.   That is a 1,000 mile dog sled race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks.   The race takes place in February and alternates starting and finish destinations each year.

Honoring firefighters

We liked this firefighter statue here in Whitehorse.

Firefighter’s Prayer. Whitehorse

And the firefighter’s prayer plaque.   We certainly appreciate firefighters everywhere.

Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant. A favorite!

We enjoyed dinner at the Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant.   This restaurant closes for the winter and just opened a couple days before we arrived.   Our moms ordered salmon and halibut.   Everything is delicious here.   Of course, desserts were ordered.

Huge brownie desserts

They each ordered brownie a la mode with caramel sauce.   These brownies are huge!  And so good.

Yukon Information Center Whitehorse

In the morning we visited the Yukon Information Center.   We got information on a tour that is operating in May.   We will show you where we went next time.

Beaver Creek to Kluane Lake, Yukon with Colorado Traveling Ducks

This was a great traveling day.   We didn’t travel several hundred miles, but we saw animals and a huge gold pan.   Leaving Beaver Creek, the most western Canadian community, our first stop was to see the world’s largest gold pan.

World’s largest gold pan

Here we are in Burwash Landing, Canadian Yukon.   This gold pan is 21 feet in diameter and features a gold miner panning for gold.   The picture of the gold miner is painted occasionally.   The last time was about 10 years ago.   It could use a new painting.   We  saw the Kluane Museum of History; not open while we were there.

Kluane Museum of History

Outside we enjoyed a great display of life after fires.   After fires, small plants and trees begin to emerge, attracting insects and small animals.   Then larger vegetation and larger animals.   The circle of life is regenerated after forest fires.

Outdoor museum

Also there is the outdoor exhibits of original buildings.   Burwash Landing was the traditional home of Southern Tutchona Athabascan Indians and was their summer camp.   In the early 1900’s, a trading post was established here by the Jacquot brothers.   Of course, for a short time gold mining was a major source of income.   We enjoyed the statues around the museum area.

Working on tractor

The tractor was rather surprising, but we liked it.   Food must be grown everywhere.   Burwash Landing, according to the 2011 census, has a population of 90 permanent residents.

Lake Kluane

Located on the southern shores of Kluane Lake, Burwash Landing is the administration center of the Kluane First Nation people.   Continuing down the Alaska Highway, we were happy to see this grizzly bear.

One grizzly bear

Isn’t she wonderful?  But wait.

Three grizzlies.   And motorcycle

Not one grizzly, but three.   Mom and her two cubs.   They stopped to roll and play in the road.   Then to the lake.

Mom and cubs heading to Kluane Lake. Bath time

After crossing the road, they approached Kluane Lake.   Here they will bathe and have a short swim in the cold Kluane Lake.

Kluane Lake

The few other vehicles that were on the road also stopped to watch this fabulous grizzly bear family.   Continuing south on the Alaska Highway, we soon reached Thachal Dhal Visitor’s Center.

Thachal Dhal Visitor’s Center

Unfortunately the Visitor’s Center had not yet opened for the season.   Most places on the Alaska Highway open in mid or late  May.   But there are enough motels, campgrounds and restaurants that are open year round that travelers can be comfortable any time.   Winter in the far north is the determining factor for most tourists, and when they want to travel.  Last year we stopped at the Thachal Dhal Visitor’s Center.   It is very interesting and definitely worth a stop.   It is a great place to see the Dall Sheep, during spring and fall.

Dall Sheep on mountain side

We did see some Dall Sheep on the mountain side.   They are fun to watch as they run and jump around the rocky mountain areas.   Also on our drive, we saw three caribou or reindeer playing in the woods by the road, and a moose in a lake, too far away for a photo.   We love seeing all the animals, the lakes, snow capped mountains and very little traffic.   We hope you drive the Alaska or Alcan Highway in late May or early June.   It is beautiful.

Leaving Fairbanks and Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are heading home??  What?? There is so much more to see.   We ducks do not want to go home yet.   Our moms say, don’t worry.   We will stop often on the way home to see different things than last year.   And a few of our favorites that we want to experience again.   OK.  Leaving Chena Hot Springs, our first stop is Salcha, Alaska at The Knotty Shop.

The Knotty Shop.

This is a great store, featuring items made in Alaska.   The name, Knotty Shop, comes from the knots or bumps (burls) on the trees.   Last year we stopped here so you can read more about it in older posts.   This year we purchased some clothing, t-shirts, sweats, and socks.   Also another Ulu knife.   A hand carved wooden basket, jewelry, Alaskan made jam and, of course, ice cream cones.  Lots of time shopping, so we spent the night at Alaska Steakhouse and Motel in Delta Junction, Alaska.

Alaska Steakhouse and Motel in Delta Junction, Alaska

At Delta we officially began driving on the Alaska Highway.

Heading southeast on Alaska Highway toward Canada

Beautiful scenery as we head toward the Canadian Yukon Territory.   We stopped at roadside rest areas often.

Roadside pullout. Great areas for walking and enjoying scenery.

Stopped to appreciate the breathtaking views.   Also, Chloe likes to get out of the car and do a little exploring.   So do the humans.   While driving, as we completed a curve in the road we startled a black bear and he ran down a path into the woods.   He was so cute to watch.   Of course, too fast to get a photo.   We arrived in Tok, Alaska, the last Alaskan town on the Alaska Highway.

Burnt Paw gift shop. Tok, Alaska

Our first stop was the Burnt Paw.   This is a great gift shop, a snack area, motel with cabins, and source of eqipment for dog sleds.

Tok, Alaska. Burnt Paw

Isn’t this a great dog sled at the store entrance?  More shopping.  Souvenirs, gifts and treats for Chloe.   Next stop in Tok was Fast Eddies.

Fast Eddies in Tok, Alaska

We stopped for food and it was delicious.   Since it was Mother’s Day, Fast Eddies was treating mothers to free dessert cupcakes.

Mother’s Day complementary dessert from Fast Eddie

We had Red Velvet and Lemon Meringue cupcakes.   Very tasty and we enjoyed them.   Thanks Fast Eddie!  Continuing toward the Yukon, we crossed the Tanana River a few times.

Tanana River in Alaska

We like this river.   You may remember last June we rode on the Tanana River while on Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks.  We have arrived in the Yukon.

Enter Canada’s Yukon Territory

We cleared US and Canadian customs.   We stayed in Beaver Creek in the Yukon.   Beaver Creek RV and Motel was our home for the night.  Camping is a very popular way to travel but we prefer to stay in hotels.   At the campground we did enjoy these carved statues of early pioneers.

Historic figures in campground

The Visitor’s Center is across the street.

Yukon Visitor’s Center

The lady there was very friendly.   She even invited Chloe, Soapy Smith Duck’s dog, to come inside.  She likes dogs and told us about her sled dogs.   She told us much about Beaver Creek now and about Beaver Creek in the past.   Very interesting.   She suggested we stop at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church built around quonset hut

Isn’t it a quaint little church?   This church was built around a quonset hut left over from the days of the Alaska Highway construction.   Please take a little time to explore any town you visit.   We always find some interesting and unexpected things.

Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, Alaska with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Today is a nice day, in the 50’s, but we are going into the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, near Fairbanks, Alaska.   Chena Hot Springs, located 60 miles from Fairbanks, is a year round destination.   Today we will show you the Aurora Ice Museum.

Aurora Ice Museum

Made of over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, all havested at the resort, the Aurora Ice Museum opened in January 2005 and is still frozen.   You can visit with a guide only and the inside temperature is 25 degrees F (-7 degrees C).   For much of the year, inside the Aurora Ice Museum is warmer than the outside temperature.   Our guide opened the door, admitting us and our group to a small room.   Here we put on parkas, free for our visit inside.   Opening the next door, we are ready to go inside.

Entering through second door

There are many ice sculptures.

Ice sculpture

Most of them are lit, colors reminding us of the Aurora, or Northern Lights, visible only in the winter.   The lights in the sky are not visible in the summer, as it does not get dark enough.  The interior ice walls are also carved.

Interior ice wall

The walls, everything within the museum and the museum itself are all made of ice.   There are many ice sculptures.

Ice sculpture. Jousting

Jousting forms in ice here.   Face of ice.

Ice sculpture

Inside the ice museum are a few bedrooms to rent.

Entrance to bedroom

Let’s enter one of the rooms.  Intricate bed.

Ice bedroom

Yes, that really is a bed made of ice.   Lots of furs and blankets needed to sleep here.

Another bedroom. Ice bed

And another room.

Ice bed in different light

Let’s see this bed without the effect of colored lights.  We loved seeing this place, but we don’t want to sleep here.   It could be exciting, but we think it might be too cold for small ducks.   Heading back toward the entrance, we stop at the ice bar.

Aurora bar with ice bar stools.

Of course the bar is of ice.   The bar stools also are ice, but with fur cushions for more comfortable sitting.   Appletinis are available from the bar.   They are served in these ice glasses.

Martini glass made of ice. Yours with purchase of martini

You purchase the drink and the glass is yours.   To leave, we must be escorted back to the small room where we return our parkas, and then out the front door.   The Aurora Ice Museum is fascinating, but pretty cold.   The doors must be kept locked at all times to insure the proper temperature to preserve the ice.   There are world recognized ice sculpturers on staff here.   They are usually making new sculptures and also making many ice glasses.  You really should see this when you are in the area.   This is a great Alaska place to see.

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Chena Hot Springs, discovered in 1905, is about 60 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Chena Hot Springs Resort

The resort at the hot springs has so much to offer guests.   After leaving Fairbanks, we decided to spend a couple days here.   The main attraction for us was sitting in the hot water.

Entrance to hot springs pool and hot springs rock lake

This is the entrance to the hot springs indoor pool.   In the pool area you can access hot tubs.   If you forgot, swimming suits and pool sandals are for sale at reasonable prices.   Also, follow the enclosed walkway to an outdoor hot tub and to our favorite, the rock lake.

Hot Springs Rock Lake

The water in the rock lake varies from about 103 degrees to 106 degrees.   Move around the lake and you will find your perfect temperature.   We loved sitting in the lake.   We saw a couple reindeer on the surrounding mountain side.   There are other activities for guests.   You can join an ATV tour.

ATV tours here

ATVs are fun.  Younger humans enjoy this playground.

Playground for small humans

And this tower of antlers is so Alaskan.

Antlers

We enjoy seeing things that are not in our yard in Colorado.   It is difficult and expensive to find good fresh vegetables here most of the year.

Greenhouse. Fresh salads were delicious

So the resort uses this greenhouse and garden to grow most of their own vegetables.   Our fresh salads were delicious.   Near the greenhouse the ducks enjoy a small pond.

Ducks by pond and greenhouse

We love seeing our feathered relatives when we travel.  There are many trails to hike, a location for gold panning, two souvenir shops, a snack shop and a restaurant.

Creek through resort

We enjoyed this creek passing through our resort.   Guests can stay in the main lodge, in multi room cabins, or yurts.   Camping sites are also available.   We stayed in a cabin.

Our cabin. Number 98

We were cabin 98.   Soapy, Chloe and their mom stayed in a front room.   Mom and I stayed in a rear room.   We liked the yurts.

Yurt with really tall trees

Aren’t these trees tall?  From our cabin window we could see a wild, wooded area.

Pretty pond

The path through the area took us to this small lake.   Also a few reindeer, or caribou, lived here.

Reindeer or caribou at Chena Hot Springs resort

This is a protected area for the wildlife.   In May it was still rather chilly.

Stilll partially frozen in May

This lake had not thawed yet.   We liked the snow and ice on part of the lake.   But, it was spring in the far north and although the ice and snow were not all gone, there were many hours of daylight.   Sunrise was 4:43 a.m. and sunset was 10:54 p.m.   Even after midnight, there was not total darkness.   One night we stayed in the hot springs rock lake until after 10:00 pm and it was very light.   It is a little difficult to adjust to so many hours of daylight in the summer.  At the lightest, in late June, sunrise is 2:53 a.m. and sunset at 12:37 p.m.   It never gets really dark.   But, remember in the December they have many hours of darkness.   In several areas of the resort there are benches for guests to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Carved bench

Some of these benches are very ornate.  We love the carved wooden benches.   In the winter, this is a great area to view the Aurora, or the Northern Lights.   Also fun to ride on a dog sled through the snow and wooded areas.  Chena Hot Springs is a great year round resort.