Day 6. Dawson City, YT – Big Creek Government Campground, YT, 907 km.
We left Dawson early morning and headed back. This day we were backtracking the way we arrived – Klondike Highway to Whitehorse, then follow Alaska Highway. But instead of going back to Vancouver the same way, we decided to make a detour via Alberta! We made it almost to the junction with Stewart-Cassiar Highway, the place where we joined the Alaska highway just a few days ago.
After two nights in hotel in Dawson City, I was eager to sleep in a tent again! The Big Creek Government Campground is really amazing – it is located pretty far away from civilization, there is no cell coverage. But in return, you get a chance to sleep in wild forest, listening to river while you are asleep.
Day 7. Big Creek Government Campground, YT – Fort St. John, BC, 955 km.
In the morning we found campground full! It is pretty small and you can easily miss in when you just drive past it, but if you know about it, this is amazing place to stop! My top choice for the next trip!
We pushed east and shortly we arrived to a town of Watson Lake. It is famous for the Signpost Forest. In 1942 U.S. ARMY was building a highway to Alaska through northern Canada. Private Carl K. Lindley who was homesick erected a sign that showed direction and distance to his home town in Illinois. Few other soldiers joined him. Then it snowballed. Now there are over 100,000 signs left by passing travelers. From now on, it has a small flag of Ukraine!
Shortly afterwards we entered back into British Columbia. Man, how beautiful it is! With every new road I drive, I get more and more convinced that the slogan “Beautiful British Columbia” on car license plates is not just a marketing trick. It is really that beautiful! The Alaska Highway goes through all kinds of terrains here, forests, mountains, lakes.. It is just stunning!
By the lunch time we arrived to Muncho Lake. This is one of the most spectacular places I have seen in my life! The water of amazing greenish-blue color reminds me of Lake Louse in Banff, but this one is much bigger, and way further away from tourist crowds. There are only fellow road trippers, no buses with crowds of tourists. I don’t know if I ever smelled air as clean and fresh as there. I wished we stayed there for a night at some campsite, but it was only around noon and it was freezing cold outside, so we decided to move on. I want to say a separate “Thank You” to the guys who built this section of the road – it follows lake shore closely making it just an unforgettable drive!
The road crosses a mountain range again, and we drove through heavy rain downpour.
This day’s section of the road , from Watson Lake up to Fort Nelson is full of amazing views and unbelievable nature. I really want to drive it again, but much slower – I want to spend several days there, not just one.
After we passed Fort Nelson, BC, the scenery changed completely. The mountains were left behind, and what we have seen is endless flats up to horizon. We were getting tired and decided to start looking for a place to stop for the night. But we were unlucky. This particular section of the road, from Fort Nelson to Fort St John, almost 400 km, is the most tourist-unfriendly area of BC. There are no rest areas, no viewpoints or anything of interest. And no campgrounds! We have seen only two, but they were dirty, muddy, full of suspicious people. We did not feel like spending any time there so we moved on. This whole area seem to be mostly concerned with extraction of natural gas – we have seen lots and lots of worker’s camps and industry sites. Keep in mind when planning your trip.
Tired and hungry we reached Fort St John by 10 pm. Somehow we managed to book a hotel, and just went to sleep. Everything was closed in town and we were too tired.
Day 8. Fort St. John, BC – Snaring River Campground, Jasper, AB. 593 km.
In the morning we discovered amazing campground on a river shore just 5 minute drive further from our hotel. I was so unhappy, I wish we stayed there. More notes for next trip.
Shortly after leaving fort St John we reached the town of Dawson Creek. This is a very special place. It is a mile zero of Alaska Highway!
After taking mandatory photographs with the sign, we drove to Grand Prairie to Take Alberta Highway 40 that we expected to get us south, to Jasper. And it did. But this is not the road I will want to drive again. There is absolutely nothing interesting, I even did not turn my camera on for the whole day. We were just driving and driving and driving. There were lots of road construction, and in general it felt extremely long. We did less than 600 km in a day and were very tired.
But to our pleasure, we reached Jasper National Park by the evening. There was also a road construction going on, and we were discussing how far should we go and where should we stay for the night. The town of Jasper did not look like a good option, hotels started at around $300 for a single night! Then with a corner of an eye I have seen a sign for a campground, that was some 5 km away from the highway. We decided to go there just to take a look what Jasper campgrounds look like.
It was a great decision! The campgrounds was huge and location was amazing! I was happy to enjoy the evening and spend a night there. The last night of the trip was truly the best.
Day 9. Jasper, AB – Vancouver, BC. 1,033 km.
The main reason why I decided to drive via Alberta, is to drive the Icefields Parkway. And it was totally worth it! If British Columbia is beautiful, than Alberta is stunning! This particular road crosses some of the most beautiful mountains you can find in North America, countless lakes, glaciers. I have seen so many pictures of this road, but in reality, it is even better! I highly recommend it, it is truly unforgettable experience.
We came back to Vancouver tired but happy at around 10 pm.
We traveled around 6,500 km in 8 days plus stayed in Dawson City for the whole day. We have seen some of the most amazing roads in Canada that offer truly unique experience. But most important, I answered a question that I asked myself before this trip – do I like this way of travel, with no planning or arrangements. Yes! Totally! All the inconveniences are compensated in full by that feeling of freedom that it gives you. I thought it existed only in movies like ‘Easy Rider’. But no, I experienced it myself.
What next? I definitely want to experience same feelings as I had on this trip. And now I think I understand why people totally fall in love with the North. It is a place like no other, you need to experience it to fully understand. The life is different up there, even just experiencing it for a week gives unique perspective.
I will be back North, that is for sure. Time to plan next trips!