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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
NEXT UP: Steward/Hyder - Back to Alaska!