|Regions: Southern Lakes, Whitehorse Region||Communities: Carcross, Tagish, Teslin, Whitehorse|
|Themes: Touring||Categories: Activities, Camping, Canoeing, Dogsledding, Fishing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Heritage & Culture, Museums, Shopping, First Nations Culture, Arts, Dining, Klondike Gold Rush, Touring, Iconic Drives, Sightseeing, Wilderness & Wildlife, Wilderness Parks|
Relax and enjoy the scenery
This route offers easy driving through a landscape of deep blue lakes, coastal mountains and historic villages. You can explore First Nations culture as well as local arts and crafts. For the outdoor lovers there’s plenty to keep you busy with hiking, biking and boating—all just a short drive from Whitehorse. Short driving distances mean you can base yourself in Whitehorse and explore from there, or spend each night in a different location. For those of you who want to put your cell phone away and not hear from it again for a few days, check into a wilderness lodge. Tucked away in stunning locations, you can wake up to lake views and the blissful sounds of silence. During the day, depending upon the season, you can paddle a canoe, relax on the sandy beaches, land a trout for dinner or even learn how to mush a dog sled team.
A Day Exploring Historic Carcross
Leave Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway and turn onto the South Klondike Highway towards Carcross. Along the way, the photogenic Annie Lake Road makes for a pleasant detour.
Back on the highway, you’ll pass one of the most photographed places in the Yukon—the spectacular turquoise-hued Emerald Lake. Nearby, meet sled dog puppies, try gold panning or get up close to a woolly mammoth at the Caribou Crossing Trading Post—a Yukon favourite.
When you think of the Yukon, the word “desert” doesn’t generally come to mind. But at just one square mile (2.6km2), the Carcross Desert claims the title as the world’s smallest desert.
You’ll find Carcross to be a wonderful mix of history, friendly people and outdoor fun. Sip a latte at the Carcross Commons before wandering through the town’s historic buildings. Enjoy an eclectic shopping experience at the Matthew Watson General Store, the Yukon’s oldest operating store. And take a walk along the beautiful beach of Lake Bennett.
Carcross is also the terminus for the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad—an iconic Yukon experience. This historic narrow gauge railway clings to mountainsides and crosses trestle bridges with stunning views on its way to Skagway, Alaska.
Nearby Montana Mountain is also widely known for its world-class mountain biking trails and spectacular hiking trails.
Driving Time: 1 hour (73km/45mi.)
Drive to Tagish and Atlin
From Carcross it’s just a short drive along Tagish Road to the village of Tagish, situated at the meeting point of Tagish and Marsh Lakes. Keep your eyes open and camera at the ready for sightings of bears, moose, deer and caribou.
The area is a popular cottage retreat with locals who congregate for trout fishing and summer holidays. Tagish is geared to water activities with visitor services that include a few restaurants, a café, a campground, cabin rentals and guided fishing. If you want to get out on the water, you can rent a small boat at the Southern Lakes Marina.
From Tagish, head south to the town of Atlin. Often called “Little Switzerland of the North,” this remote community in northwestern British Columbia has accommodations, attractions and natural warm springs. The area was the site of one of the richest gold strikes made during the Klondike Gold Rush. You can find out more about the area’s history at the Atlin Historical Museum, located in the town’s original one-room schoolhouse.
Breathtaking Atlin Lake is the focal point of the town and Atlin Provincial Park is a wilderness destination for boaters, paddlers, hikers and heli-skiers.
Driving Time: 2.5 hours (146km/90mi.)
Drive from Atlin to Whitehorse
Head back up the Atlin Road to the Alaska Highway and then east towards Teslin.
This lakeside community was a traditional summer camp for the Tlingit people from Southern Alaska and a former Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. It’s still a place where people gather in the summer because of its location along the Alaska Highway, and beautiful Teslin Lake and Nisutlin Bay.
For an insight into Tlingit art and culture, head over to the striking Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre on the lakeshore to watch demonstrations of traditional crafts such as beading, salmon smoking and moccasin making.
Photographers and local history buffs should not miss the George Johnston Museum. The extraordinary collection of photographs by George Johnston is just one part of this fascinating museum that celebrates the lives and culture of the Tlingit people. One of the more unusual things you’ll learn here is how to keep a car running at 60° below zero, without the aid of anti-freeze.
Cross back over the seven-arched Nisutlin Bay Bridge—the longest bridge on the Alaska Highway—on your return trip to Whitehorse. On the way, pull into Army Beach campground on Marsh Lake to sink your toes in the sand.
Driving Time: 3 hours (176km/109mi.)