The Five-Must-See-Destinations On Your Way to Alaska
Getting to Alaska is never easy, especially when you drive. Instead of just getting out the compass and heading blindly north, why not take some time to plan and make stops along the way. See the sights, eat the food, drink with the locals, and take out the camera. The road is long, but that doesn’t mean the drive has to be. Enjoy the journey to the destination as it is part of the vacation. Consider stopping at these five-must-see destinations the next time you head to the land of the midnight sun:
1. Bell 2 Lodge
Originally little more than a gas station, Bell 2 Lodge has come a long way. While it still sells gas, it goes far beyond that. Located in the wild Skeena Mountains in northwestern BC on the Stewart Cassiar Highway, it’s the only sign of civilisation for miles. This northern wilderness retreat has become a local staple and a vital stop-over for travellers. Stay in luxurious cabins, soak in the hot tub, enjoy the proclaimed best burger north of Smithers, and perhaps even glimpse some northern lights. They also have full service camping, and RV hook-ups. Watch moose munch past the cabin windows and salmon jump in the Bell River, while sipping wine and enjoying a multicourse dinner in the newly renovated dining room. Need I say more?
Back in its day, Stewart was home to a couple thousand residents. Its prosperity came from mining, however when the mine shut in the 1990’s, almost 200 families left in a weekend. Although the town is quiet, it’s still charming and a great place to explore. Nestled in a deep valley, surrounded by striking peaks and beside the Portland Canal, Stewart makes a great base to explore the sea and land. Hike in old growth forests to rocky summits and alpine tarns or wonder the historic streets.
3. Watson Lake
Home to the famous Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake is the first stopover for many in the Yukon. Named after Frank Watson, an American seeking gold during the Klondike Gold rush. He was the first white-man to settle the area. Located in the rolling hills of the southeast, it’s a perfect staging point for fishing, white water canoeing, horseback riding, and the only man-made water slide north of 60°. The town even has a park downtown, so you don’t have to go far to surround yourself with nature. Wye Lake Park provides opportunities to see a Great Horned Owl, Bald Eagles, and Wood Peckers.
4. Haines Junction
The small town of Haines Junctions is the gateway to the vast and spectacular Kluane National Park. Kluane, together with Tatchenshini-Alsek Park in British Columbia, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska form the largest internationally protected region on earth. If you’re seeking wilderness, you’ve found it. Climbers and skiers come from around the world and use Haines Junction as a stepping stone to the mountains. Imagine range after range of unnamed peaks and unclimbed rugged summits. It doesn’t get much more epic than this.
5. Dawson City
Boasting a mixture of First Nations Heritage, Gold Rush History, and tourism industry, Dawson City is a vibrant northern town beside the Yukon River. Founded with the discovery of gold in 1896, the town has continued to flourish and preserve its past. Wonder the Klondike Gold Fields and try your luck gold panning. Perhaps you’ll even strike it rich in Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino, the first legalized gambling hall in Canada. And if you’re slightly mad, get a toe shot at the downtown hotel.
While Alaska is pretty awesome, these five stop overs are comparable rivalry. Don’t always focus on the destination, or you’ll miss the in-between. In some cases, that may be the best part of the vacation.