Signs, science and scenery
Watson Lake’s most recognizable landmark is unique, endearing and a little bit wacky—in a good way. A simple act by a homesick American soldier in 1942 began what would become the Sign Post Forest. While building the Alaska Highway, the soldier posted a sign pointing in the direction of his hometown more than 4,300 kilometres away. Visitors from around the world have since posted their own signs, creating a one-of-a-kind attraction—crowdsourcing decades before people even knew what crowdsourcing was. Walk the pathways lined with over 85,000 signs and find a spot to add your own.
More history waits at the Watson Lake Airport, where the original BC-Yukon Air Service hangar still stands. Built in 1941, it played a key role in the American Army’s WWII lend-lease program as well as in the building of the highway. Handsome and aging well, the hangar loves to pose for pictures.
Next up: a natural phenomenon. At the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre, summer visitors hear the legends and learn the science of the mesmerizing aurora borealis. Be awestruck as colourful northern lights dance across a panoramic video screen. This is your best chance to see the aurora in the summer when the Yukon skies swap northern lights for midnight sun.
Back outdoors, Wye Lake is a scenic park with a playground, picnic area and a 2.5-kilometre trail that loops around the lake. Right downtown, it’s a great spot to birdwatch, relax and chat with the locals. Lucky Lake, about 5.5 kilometres out of town, is a pretty getaway that’s great for swimming and wildlife watching. Hike the forest trail down to the fast-flowing river for a view of the Liard River Canyon.
With convenient services, friendly people and fascinating history, Watson Lake is a welcome stop between long stretches of beautiful highway driving.
- Wood bison, the largest land mammal in North America, can often be seen grazing along the Alaska Highway south of Watson Lake.
- Known as “The Gateway to the Yukon,” Watson Lake is the first Yukon community on the Alaska Highway when travelling from BC.
- Watson Lake is named after Frank Watson, who left California in the 1897 rush for Klondike gold.