Alaska RV Camping Travelog – Day 26
Today we leave Alaska for Canada. What starts out as a sunny day quickly deteriorates into what we’ve come to expect each day…..RAIN!
The Taylor Highway becomes a gravel road just before we arrive in Chicken. This place is NOT to be missed! I’m glad we can say we’ve been there because it’s unique. As we pulled into town we saw a sign for the Post Office and according to the sign, mail is only picked twice a week! Lucky us, it’s today!
We pulled into the “town” of Chicken, via the Chicken Loop. This road takes you to a small café/gift store, and past a large gold mining dredge. We stop to check out “Pedro’s Dredge” which was last used for gold mining in 1967. An interesting part of Alaska’s gold mining history!
The café had a laptop with internet access, but we don’t recommend it! SLOW and UNRELIABLE are two words that come immediately to mind. Okay, okay, I had to buy another t-shirt! By the way, the gold rush founders of Chicken originally wanted to name the town Ptarmigan but no one knew how to spell it, so they settled on Chicken which they knew how to spell!
After about an hour of unsuccessful e-mail attempts, we give up, pack it in and head over to another milestone of Chicken, The Chicken Café! It’s west of the dredge and also is a liquor store and gift shop. We recommend the Cherry Pie and the Cinnamon Rolls!
Back on the road to the Boundary, this is the worst road we’ve traveled so far! The first 25-30 miles from Chicken were wet, muddy, potholes, and narrow. Also many RV’ers were crossing the center into our lane of traffic and our shoulder was non-existent and the road looked to give way at any time! We did pass a very old gold dredge that had been left and not moved in a very long time.
We came upon a BLM wayside rest and stopped to get rid of our trash as there was no place for us to do that where we’d been camped the night before.
The Top of the World Highway is just that! With the Northernmost Border crossing in North America to boot! The road runs along the very spine of the mountains and gives some spectacular views!
When we arrived at customs, the border guard was female, very professional and asked if she could come inside our rig. Probably because the wind was kicking at the top of the world! She was very courteous as she asked us questions about how long we would be in Canada and if we would be leaving anything there. She also asked about alcohol and tobacco products and sent us on our way.
The road on the Canadian side is paved all the way to Dawson City with just a couple exceptions. We stopped within sight of the border crossing for lunch with a spectacular view in all directions.
When the clouds finally break, we are at the Yukon river and have to take a ferry across! This is a scary proposition considering everything we own is in our motor home! The ferry is free and takes vehicles from one side to the other as fast as they can load. We arrive and are the 1st vehicle in line, as it turns out most of the traffic is going east to west. The water looks very intimidating as it’s high, fast, and dirty from spring runoff. Only takes about 10 minutes to load, cross, and disembark. We drive past 15 motor homes waiting on the east side, I bet it takes them a couple hours in line!
As soon as the ferry lands you are in Dawson City! We have a map given to us by one of the ferry operators, and head over to the Robert Service and Jack London cabins to see where these famous writers lived and wrote. We then headed downtown to walk around the old boardwalks and buildings! The Canadian Government has done a fantastic job of restoration and preservation of the old town to look like it did in it’s Hay Day! There are historical plaques on various places to let you know what they used to be.
Several gift shops and café’s in town, and many have signs saying “We Support the Placer Mining Industry”. Placer mines don’t dig mine shafts, rather they use sluice boxes to separate the gold from the dirt using water primarily.
After wandering around town for a couple hours we head towards Bonanza Creek, site of the famous Discovery Claim and home to Historic Dredge # 4. We see many placer mines, both past and presently used. There must be a LOT of gold still to be found. Dredge # 4 is the largest gold mining dredge in North America and when you see it you’ll be amazed–it’s Huge! It is also open to the public for tours as a Canadian historic site, but we’re too late for the tour.
The Discovery Claim is the spot where the Canadian Gold Rush started! This is the site of the first gold mining claim to be made, and is held by the Canadian Government as a historical place and offers visitors the opportunity to pan for gold and keep what ever they find!
Mom, Brian and I all try our hand with the gold pans and we do come up with some flakes of the precious metal! Oh, to find that fist sized nugget! Lots of people have tried and there are many holes dug all around near the creek. There are vault toilets, picnic tables, trash cans, and no one else around….looks like the perfect place to spend the night!
Total miles on Gozer 78041 – Miles today 141
Road Notes: Today was slow going! We traveled 30 miles at only 15 mph and many more at a top speed of only 30 mph! The road past Chicken to the US/Canada Border was wet, slippery, full of potholes, and scared drivers that wouldn’t give us our share of the road! Several times we had to stop and inch past drivers that were too afraid of the edge of the road to move over for easy passage. The road from US/Canada Border to Dawson City was pretty good! Very scenic at the border crossing with some pot holes, frost heaves, and steep grades. Canada doesn’t believe much in guardrails along the roads, so if you are afraid of heights, don’t know where your wheels are on your vehicle, or aren’t comfortable driving a big vehicle you may want to avoid this road. We saw many drivers with looks of total fear in their eyes, and that would take all the fun out of a challenging road like this one.
Tomorrow – Cinnamon Rolls and Whitehorse
Yesterday – Do You Know The Road To Chicken?