Canada’s Yukon Territory is preparing to welcome UK road trippers as the world-famous Alaska Highway, one of North America’s most scenic drives, celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2017
The historic Alaska Highway winds through eight Yukon communities, including the capital city of Whitehorse, and travels from Watson Lake, gateway to the Yukon and home to the world-famous Sign Post Forest, to Beaver Creek, Canada’s most westerly community. Along the way, the route travels through some of the North’s most iconic destinations, including UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kluane National Park, home to Canada’s tallest mountain (Mt Logan, 5920m) and the world’s largest, non-polar icefield.
The Alaska Highway also connects with several other iconic driving routes, including the Klondike Highway, which links Skagway, Alaska with Dawson City, home of the Klondike Gold Rush, the stunning Top of the World Highway, and Canada’s only road to cross the Arctic Circle, the Dempster Highway.
The Alaska Highway 75th birthday coincides with Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, a national year-long celebration. The Government of Canada has announced free admission to national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas throughout 2017 to mark the occasion, saving visitors more than $100.
UK travellers now booking their 2017 trip to the Yukon can take advantage of this year-long offer to explore some of Parks Canada’s 168 National Historic Sites at no extra cost, including the Klondike National Historic Site Complex in Dawson City, the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site (Whitehorse), Kluane National Park (Haines Junction), and Ivvavik National Park (North Yukon).
The Alaska Highway was built during World War II by 16,000 American Army personnel and Canadian civilians in just eight months, under the command of the US President. This new military lifeline connected the ‘Lower 48’ US states and Canada to the top of the continent as one long road running through the untouched wilderness of Northern British Columbia, the gold rush country of Canada’s Yukon Territory and the remote Alaskan Territory. The crew fought sub-Arctic weather, dense forests and grizzly bears to create what became known as ‘the biggest and hardest job since the Panama Canal’, costing more than $100 million. Originally 1,678 miles in length, today it is 1,387 miles due to road re-routing over the years.
The once-rough route can now be enjoyed from the comfort and safety of a modern, mostly paved two-lane highway. Its rugged beauty gives the term ‘scenic drive’ a whole new meaning, with road trippers assured vistas of snow-covered mountains, spruce forests, wildflowers, tundra, ancient glaciers, and endless wildlife, from bears and caribou, to eagles and moose.
Charming Yukon communities, set within the traditional territories of Yukon’s 14 First Nations’ (indigenous) people, provide comfortable rest stops, unique attractions, and plenty of services for the road traveller, making the Yukon a true road trip paradise that can be experienced on a self-drive programme. Then again, you could always leave the driving to someone else and take a comfortable group escorted tour programme.
For the ultimate six-day sample driving itinerary, visit www.travelyukon.com/alaska-highway
Frontier Canada offer motorhome packages to the Yukon from £1392 per person based on two persons travelling, including return flights from London Heathrow to Whitehorse on Air Canada, one night at High Country Inn, Whitehorse, and seven days 24-28ft Canadream motorhome for up to six people (includes 3,400km and convenience packs). Extra passengers cost £858 each. Telephone 020 8776 8709 or visit www.frontier-canada.co.uk
Discover The World feature an 11 night ‘Yukon Highlights’ self-drive tour from May to September with a lead-in price of £1,310 per person (land only) based on two persons travelling. Telephone 01737 214 250 or visit www.discover-the-world.co.uk/destinations/canada-holidays/yukon-highlights
- Main image: Kluane Lake (Paul Mantle)