Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Cassiar Highway

blog 3

The title of this post is somewhat misleading. Rolling out of Dawson City, we still had many miles to cover before we would reach the Cassiar Highway, 601 miles to be exact. Our plan was to do one overnight on the way to Whitehorse and then spend a couple of days exploring there before moving on to the Cassiar. It didn't work out that way at all, to our surprise.

As we drove south, the small communities where we had considered overnighting just weren't all that appealing. We kept going until we finally reached a small Yukon Government campground at Twin Lakes, a couple of hours north of Whitehorse and seemingly out in the boonies. What a great little place! It has a total of 19 spaces, a few of which have views of the lake. Those spots were taken when we arrived, so we took a nice long and level spot facing the opposite direction. We had no neighbors and it was so peaceful, we decided to stay for two nights. The next morning everyone left and we could have moved to a lakefront spot, but we were happy where we were so we stayed put.


Two views of our little hideaway at Twin Lakes Campground.

After two days in the boonies, we arrived at Walmart in Whitehorse to find a chaotic parking lot that was nearly impossible to navigate. We got in okay, but several times trucks or RVs would park in such a way that we would get blocked in. I had read about how busy it was, but I guess it just didn't register. The energy of the place was not very enjoyable, so we decided to get our stuff done and get out while we still could! We were there fairly early in the day, so I can only imagine that, as the day wore on, it would only get busier. We spent the next couple of hours grocery shopping (at the Canadian Superstore just a few of blocks away, which is awesome!) and running some errands, then came back home to Scoopy in the Walmart parking lot, ate lunch, took showers and bugged out!

Eh, no thanks. The busy Walmart parking lot was not an option to stay overnight.

Speaking of Walmart… I swear the GPS said “Turn Right!!!” Ooops!

We saw a group of people on a bridge with cameras and discovered this Caribou was causing all the fuss!

A couple of hours later we were set up in yet another Yukon Government campground just outside Teslin. You cannot beat Yukon Government campgrounds. They are so well-kept and clean, offer free firewood and cost a whopping $12 CAN ($9.60 US) per night. There are no hookups, of course, but there is usually a beautiful lake or river nearby, so they offer great views. Most do have water you can pump by hand, but you are advised to boil it before use. We didn't avail of the water, but it's there if you need it. All in all, we have stayed at four of these campgrounds and enjoyed every single one!

Campsite at Teslin Lake Campground. Teslin Lake is just through those trees.

The next morning we drove the final leg of the Alaska Highway to the turnoff where the Cassiar Highway begins, just outside Watson Lake. Within minutes, we were back in British Columbia! Goodbye, Yukon!

We had a long day of driving about 335 miles in nine hours. I guess we could have stopped sooner, but honestly, there wasn't much to stop for, or much to see. It was raining at times and while there were some terrific sections of highway (and I use that term VERY loosely), there were also several long sections of gravel breaks and construction. It was tedious and not a very enjoyable day of driving overall.

blog 1
Despite the inconsistency of the Cassiar Highway, it still had much to offer in the way of natural beauty.

blog 4
Hints of fall colors.

blog 7
This stretch of the highway was newly resurfaced due to two fairly recent fires and smooth as butter.

blog 8  blog 12
We had to deal with a couple of waits in construction zones. Those electrical towers stretch nearly the whole way.

blog 5
Here’s the thing, you just get a nice speed going and, all of a sudden, you gotta slow down again…Argh!

blog 15
More beautiful colors along the drive!

When we did finally stop for the night, we chose one of the more gorgeous places we've ever stayed, a pullout overlooking the Lower Gnat Lake. Wow, it was so pretty! But (you knew that was coming, right?) the pullout was next to the highway, right on a curve and it was tiny. We were facing opposing traffic, and when they came toward us, it looked like they were going to drive right into our living room! But that view . . . we stuck it out for the view. I actually slept pretty well, but Steven, not so much. We were up and back on the road at 7:30 the next morning.



blog 9

blog 10

blog 11
Our fabulous boondocking stop at Lower Gnat Lake on the Cassiar Highway.

Poor Toadie Hopper got an involuntary mud bath! She’s wearing her yoga mats over her windshield!

It was a three-black bear day! I love British Columbia. It is such a gorgeous place, and when it comes to black bears, it reigns supreme. I don't think we even saw a bear in the Yukon, and only saw one in all of Alaska (with the exception of Denali NP). But in BC, we've seen 15! If you want to see bears, come to British Columbia, they are right on the roads practically waving at you!

blog 16

blog 17
BC Black bears!!

We still have a bit of the Cassiar to go, but I have to be honest and tell you, I am not impressed. I supposed as a "Bucket List" item it's good to get it checked off but, if not for visiting Stewart/Hyder and all the offerings there, I can't see any reason why we would take this route again. For me, the Cassiar has much less to offer than the Alaska Highway and the road certainly not a better one. And, while it may be a shorter route, it isn't a quicker one. Fuel is also less available and more expensive than on the Alcan. So, yeah. It has been my least favorite part of our otherwise epic trip.

blog 18
Bear Glacier - a sneak peak at some of the amazing landscape in Stewart and Hyder.

NEXT UP: Steward/Hyder - Back to Alaska!


  1. We felt the same way about the Cassier, loved the smooth blacktop. saw a few bears and a couple great campsites. Other than that not much to see, we just kept on truck'in as well. We are now in Lake Louise for the day, headed to Glacier soon!

    1. It seems like the Cassiar is a "bucket list" item, otherwise, why bother, particularly when "out of season". There were great boondocking places, for sure, but knowing what we know now, we might have skipped it. Eh, JK. The Salmon Glacier was totally worth it!

  2. That is one looong drive. Gnat Lake looked amazing and love the bears. Poor toadie needs a cover or something.

    1. Toadie is such a trooper, I can't even . . . The Cassiar was a tedious drive, but it got better along the way. Tons of boondocking, which is always great.

  3. Good to hear your thoughts on the Cassier. It's really helpful for those of us planning our own epic Alaska journeys. Bears waving at you from the roadsides—love it!

    1. Of course, after I wrote that, we only saw one more bear! I can't say I would totally discount the Cassiar, it depends on the season. Stay tuned for more info! :)

  4. 335 miles and nine hours - you're such a warrior! That truck driver was living my nightmare :-( Love the views at the little lake, and of course the wonderful bears.