Skagway back to Whitehorse with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Skagway was a lot of fun.   The South Klondike Highway takes us from Skagway, back to Canada, onto the Alaska Highway and into Whitehorse.   Our last look at Skagway is beautiful.

Skagway with cruise ship

A cruise ship is in port today and the sky is cloudy, adding a sense of adventure and uncertainty.

Birds gliding over Tiaya Inlet

Further along the Tiaya Inlet, the birds fly over the water toward the mountains.   Leaving Alaska, clearing Canadian customs, we stop at Goat Lake Hydroelectric Project.

Goat Lake Hydroelectric Project

Goat Lake is high in the mountains.   Much of Pitch Fork Falls is clear of ice.

Pitchfork Falls

We love waterfalls.   The mountain scenery is beautiful.   Such a large attraction for this drive.   Passing through Carcross, passing the Carcross Desert, we had to make another stop at Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake

We love the colors of the lake.   It seems that we are back in bear country.

Black bear

This black bear is in no hurry as he grazes by the road.   Something white is moving on the side of the mountain.

Dall sheep

Dall sheep are common in this area.   This one has been jumping around eating any available vegetation.   A sudden start from this sheep, and a few rocks slide down the mountain onto the road.   Our mini rockslide.   But enough to get us to move on.   But more animals.

Two grizzlies

Another mom and cub grizzly bear.   We certainly are enjoying seeing the bears and other animals.   The mountain scenery along this road is spectacular.

Love the rugged, snowy mountains

We were not planning on a side trip to Skagway, but we are so glad we went.   Skagway is fun, but this drive is outstanding.   And no traffic.   We hope you see this area for yourself.   It is beautiful.

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 in Canada’s Yukon Territory

Continuing northbound, we are enthralled with the winter scenery.

Frozen River

This frozen river is so beautful.   It is definitely winter weather, some snow each day, and frozen water everywhere, but the days are much longer this far north.   The sun rises before 5:00 a.m. each morning and doesn’t set until after 10:00 p.m.   A few more minutes of daylight is added every day.   And this fellow is always a treat to view.

Black bear

He is one of the first bears we saw.   Actually, the earlier bears appeared and walked into the woods before mom got her camera out.   No matter how many bears we see, we stop to admire each one.   We stop at another rest area.

Picnic area. Statue dedicated to surveyors

This one has a nice picnic area, for later in the summer, and a marker remembering the surveyors that made this road possible.   We enjoy another view of a frozen river.   Imagine this picnic area in the summer, watching the river flow.   So beautiful and peaceful.  Next we see the wild buffalo along the side of the Alaska Highway.

Baby buffalo in the spring

The precipation does not seem to bother mom and baby.   But, as usual, the rain and snow start and stop.

Buffalo along the road

There are several young buffalo with moms here.   A little distance from mom and baby, the dads remain watchful.    Further north we leave British Columbia and enter Canada’s Yukon territory.

Welcome to the Yukon

Chloe, Soapy’s mom and three Colorado Traveling Ducks are happy to see this sign, marking progress on our northern travel.   You may remember that we drove this route last year.   That trip was one way, heading south.   We bought this blue Jeep from the estate of mom’s brother.   Both this year and last year we spent the night in Watson Lake, Yukon.  This time, there is snow on the ground and it is rather cold.

Snow around church in Watson Lake

We liked the Liard Evangical Free Church in Watson Lake.   Originally built in 1942 near the airport, the building was moved here in 1963.  This church is open to all.  Leaving Watson Lake in the morning, we soon encountered snow and icy roads.

Spring time in the Yukon

Driving was trecherous.   But there is beauty with the snow also.

Snow makes trees beautiful

These trees are beautiful.   We pulled into a rest area after the snow stopped.   Our Chloe likes to get out of the car and have some exercie.   Really, we all enjoy the stops.

Snowy mountains from rest area

The mountains blurred by snow are breathtaking to us.   But it is May now and we are ready for some spring warmth and sunshine.   Soon, we think.

Watson Lake. Colorado Traveling Ducks Visit Sign Post City

We are in Watson Lake.   This will be our last community in the Yukon Territory.   But what a community!  Driving into the community of Watson Lake, we see something unusual.

Are those sign posts?

Are these sign posts?   Oh yes.   Not just a few signs, but so many.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

This is Watson Lake’s most famous attraction.

Sign Post Forest of Watson Lake

We are at the Sign Post Forest.   OK, but why are all these signposts here?

How did this start?

This sign explains the beginning.   Just think, all these signs are the result of a homesick American from Danville, Illinois.   Apparently he was not the only one suffering from a little homesickness.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

Look at all these signs.   The Alaska Highway was started March 8, 1942.   More than 11,000 soldiers and engineers, 16,000 civilians and 7,000 pieces of equipment built this 1,500 mile road through the vast wilderness of northern Canada and Alaska.   In less than 9 months Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Delta Junction, Alaska were connected.    What an accomplishment.   Once Carl Lindley put up the first sign, the idea really caught on and everyone started putting up signs.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

Even with these panoramas, there was no way mom could get photos to show the thousands of signs, everywhere.   We ducks enjoyed sitting on the bridge and reading some signs.

A bridge in Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

We went to the Visitor’s Center in Sign Post Forest.   They were very helpful and so nice.   If humans have a sign to add to the forest, the Visitor’s Center will provide a hammer and guide humans to the area where new signs can be placed.   Our moms said if we ever come here again, we will bring a sign to add.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake

Leaving the Visitor’s Center, we looked more and are still rather speechless at all the signs.   Our guide book says Sign Post Forest is one of The Yukon’s most famous landmarks and contains over 72,000 unique signs.  Looking down the main street (The Alaska Highway), we liked the international flags.

Main Street, Watson Lake

As you can see, Watson Lake is not a large town.

Main Street, Watson Lake

According to Wikipedia, the 2016 census showed a population of 790 permanent residents.   Our hotel was clean and comfortable.   The restaurant served great food.   If you are looking for an interesting place to get away from it all, you might like Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada.   Heading south in the morning, we once again saw an adorable bear along the road.   Of all the bear photos mom took, this just might be her favorite.

Favorite bear photo. Is he watching us?

Isn’t he looking right back at us as we look at and admire him.   We were thrilled to see bears along the road in the Yukon almost every day.   Continuing through the beautiful scenery, we left the Yukon Territory and entered beautiful British Columbia.

Leaving Yukon Territory and entering British Columbia

We are enjoying our scenic drive through Canada.

Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Here in the Canadian Yukon Territory, we discovered a Heritage Center and it is located on beautiful Teslin Lake.   The Yukon is beautiful!   Let’s stop and explore the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center.

Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre

It was cool and cloudy, so the walk to the entrance is rather dark.

Walkway to enter Heritage Center

But we loved these totem poles.

Totem Pole

If you have visited southeast Alaska, you may have seen some items from the Tlingit Indians.   There are many totem poles in Ketchikan, Alaska and other Alaskan towns.   Entering the Heritage Center, we stopped to look in the gift shop.   They have many beautifully made items, but we wanted to see the exhibits here.

Great masks

These masks are fantastic.   Remembering that -40 temperatures are common, we really liked the furs.

Such beautiful work. Love the boots

We would love those boots in our Colorado mountains.   Of course, other items are also needed.

All made carefully by hand

Things must be hand made.   No nearby shopping mall.   There were so many fascinating exhibits and we hope you visit here.   But the setting of the Heritage Center is breath taking.

Picnic anyone?

From the back of the center, you can access the lake and enjoy a picnic.   Or just sit and admire the view.   The view from the side is equally beautiful.

Another picnic area by Teslin Lake

And the building has beautiful large windows for year around viewing.   We love these canoes.

Canoes

Aren’t they large and attractive?   Too bad no canoe rides for us today.   So many picnic tables and areas here.

So many picnic areas

This is perfect and so many people can enjoy the lake and the beautiful Yukon views.   Ducks and humans are so in awe of the beauty of nature here in the Yukon.   A few miles south of Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center is Nisutlin Trading Post and Motel.

Police car. Officer looks so real

Of course, we, like most drivers on the Alaska Highway, stop for gas at every gas station.   You never know if the next one is open or if it has gas.   This police car is great and the officer looks so real from the road.   No speeding here.   We loved our time outside today, but our favorite Canadian was enjoying a snack along the road.

Happily eating

We saw a bear about every day and we always pulled over to watch them eat and admire them.   This drive is beautiful.   And both relaxing and invigorating with the incredible Yukon scenery.

Yukon Transportation Museum with Colorado Traveling Ducks

A short walk and here we are at the Yukon Transportation Museum.

Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse

After paying our admission fee, we wandered through the gift shop.   Soon you will see what we bought.   Focusing on transportation here, we immediately were attracted to this canoe.

A canoe. Introducing Yukon Duck

Yes, there are now 4 Colorado Traveling Ducks.   Our newest addition is an engineer for the train, but we call him Yukon Duck.  During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the train connected Whitehorse on the Yukon River with Skagway, Alaska.

Train between Whitehorse, YT and Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is a little over 100 miles away and is a seaport.   Miners needed to get supplies and gold was often shipped out of Alaska.   Here is an early car for the Yukon Territory.

Early car

Most of the year it is winter here, so travel was done by sled.

Sled for traveling

Conditions were not safe for travel if the temperature was -40 (the same temperature for F and C).   How to know if it was too cold?  A bottle of Perry Davis Pain Killer was placed outside by the window.   If the bottle became frozen, it was “too damn cold for man or beast.”  We ducks don’t want to be out when it is -40.   There is more than one famous dog sled race in the area.   This sled is from the Yukon Quest.

Sled for Yukon Quest

The race is between Whitehorse, YT and Fairbanks, Alaska.  The starting point alternates between Whitehorse and Fairbanks each year.   Spectators can see the beginning one year and the finish the next.   This exhibit was something new to us.

Lost in the Yukon

Lost in the Yukon was about a plane crash in 1963 and a great survival story of two people.  These two, Ralph Flores and Helen Klaben survive for 49 days.   They endured painful injuries, starvation, weeks of -40 or colder, and the long dark Yukon winter.  In March, Ralph stomped SOS on a frozen snow covered swamp.   The SOS was seen and they were rescued March 26, 1963.   In 1975 Helen wrote a book about the survival titled, “Hey, I’m Alive”  A movie was also made in 1975.   Maybe we will watch it this winter??  In the airplane hanger, we admired many airplanes.

Planes in Yukon Transportation Museum

Flying is often the only way to travel in the far north.   We liked this helicopter, also.

Helicopter. Yukon Transportation Museum

The Yukon Transportation Museum is next to Whitehorse International Airport.

Whitehorse International Airport

We we impressed by the Plane Vane.

Plane weather vane

This sign explains it best.   A real plane with a long history and now a weather vane.   We want to show you that it really does move.   It was not very windy the day we visited, but you can see from these 2 photos that the plane did move.

Side view of plane

 

Wind moved plane

According to http://www.RoadsideAmerica.com   this is the world’s largest weather vane.  We are getting hungry.   After a great day in Whitehorse, it is time for dinner.   Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant is next to our hotel.

Klondike Rib and Salmon

The reviews were great and the food was fantastic.   The humans ordered salmon and also halibut.   Both were very fresh and cooked to perfection.  Humans and ducks loved it.   The restaurant is housed in the 2 oldest operating buildings in the Yukon Capital.   The menu had a history of the building.  The dining room was originally opened as a tent frame bakery called, MacMillian’s Bakery around 1900.   The main building was Klondike Airways, a mail and flight business.   In the 1930’s the building was used as a carpentry shop and coffins were constructed for a mortuary in downtown Whitehorse.   Today we have this Quaint Little “Northern Klondike Theme Restaurant.”  With winters of -40, this little wall tent buttons up in the fall and goes into hibernation each year until Mother’s Day.  We ducks like menus that tell us about the restaurant, so this is a favorite with us.

Klondike Rib and Salmon tent area

There really is a tent area of this restaurant.   Great in the summer, but too cold in the winter.  This was a great day in Whitehorse, and we welcome Yukon Duck to our duck family.

Whitehorse Museums with Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are still in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.   We love it here.   This morning we wandered around town, found a grocery store and purchased snacks for our room.   Yep…Humans and ducks love to snack.  Now we are heading to Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center.

Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center

This is a great cultural and historical place.   We didn’t go inside, we just looked at and admired the vast outdoor exhibits.   Never enough time to do everything.  Meet Woolly Mammoth.

Woolly Mammoth

He used to live here.   Doesn’t he remind you of a shaggy elephant with smaller ears?   I think so.   Oh look.

Young Woolly Mammoth

This Woolly Mammoth is closer to our size.     Can we go for a short ride little Woolly Mammoth?   Apparently not.   The sign says carcasses of Woolly Mammoth have been discovered here.  Carcasses, complete with hair, skin and internal organs have been preserved in the Beringia permafrost.   These giant animals lived here tens of thousands of years ago.   They survived periods both hotter and colder than today’s temperatures.   This is the biggest beaver we have ever seen.

Giant Beaver

These giant beavers lived in the Yukon’s Old Crow basin region.  They were 8 feet (2.5 meters) tall and weighed 480 pounds (218 kilos).   These giant beavers roamed this area 130,000 to 60,000 years ago.   Now what is this?

Pay phone

A pay phone?   Once very popular and common in the United States, it is rare to find a pay phone at home.   Now most people carry a cell phone.   We like to see phone booths.   Here is an Eskimo in his canoe, or kayak.

Eskimo

The common way to travel the Yukon River and other bodies of water during the summer when the water is not frozen.   OK, what other animals formerly called this Beringia area home?

Statues of former residents

We recognize this musk ox.  We ducks are in front of him.  He resembles Africa’s Cape Buffalo.   Notice that these animals all need heavy skin and thick coats to survive the brutal Yukon winters.   We like seeing animals.   There are many signs here explaining the permafrost.   The ground never thaws a short distance from the surface.   One result is surface water cannot penetrate the permafrost, so the soil above permafrost is quite wet.   If the permafrost does melt, due to natural weather or human actions, the melting permafrost causes the ground to be unstable.   This place makes us think about so many new things.   Also, signs show how to read the story of climate change in riverbank layers.

Riverbed layers of earth

We can see several layers in this riverbank.   These are natural layers, not things cemented together.   So much to learn.   So little time.   We are now headed to the Yukon Transportation Museum.   We will show you what we find next time.