Driving up the Alaska Highway, 2019 Edition

 
After a few days in Langley (a suburb East of Vancouver) where we went to a garage we really like to get the bus ready for the long drive, we stopped in Hope and slept at the Othello Tunnel trailhead for the night (the exact location is in iOverlander). It’s a section of the Kettle Valley Trail that leads you along this beautiful baby blue river through many tunnels. Unfortunately the tunnels were closed for the winter season.

After a few days in Langley (a suburb East of Vancouver) where we went to a garage we really like to get the bus ready for the long drive, we stopped in Hope and slept at the Othello Tunnel trailhead for the night (the exact location is in iOverlander). It’s a section of the Kettle Valley Trail that leads you along this beautiful baby blue river through many tunnels. Unfortunately the tunnels were closed for the winter season.

It was still a short pretty bike ride. And there was a bear on the trail!!

It was still a short pretty bike ride. And there was a bear on the trail!!

When then started our way North and were rewarded with incredible views. And snow, which felt pretty exotic to me.

When then started our way North and were rewarded with incredible views. And snow, which felt pretty exotic to me.

And lots of wildlife too.

And lots of wildlife too.

Stone sheep on the side of the road (and on the road licking minerals) in the Stone Mountain Park.

Stone sheep on the side of the road (and on the road licking minerals) in the Stone Mountain Park.

Such a spectacular drive! It’s the first time we drive up that early and it truly is the best time of year to do it!

Such a spectacular drive! It’s the first time we drive up that early and it truly is the best time of year to do it!

Muncho Lake, usually turquoise, was still frozen.

Muncho Lake, usually turquoise, was still frozen.

The Liard Bison herd. There were lots of brand new calves too!

The Liard Bison herd. There were lots of brand new calves too!

Liard Hot Springs!

Liard Hot Springs!

Paradise!

Paradise!

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10 o’clock sky after leaving Liard toward Watson Lake.

10 o’clock sky after leaving Liard toward Watson Lake.

We saw lots of cariboos since it was still so early in the season.

We saw lots of cariboos since it was still so early in the season.

We slept at the Watson Lake territorial campground boat launch parking lot since the campsites were still covered in snow! You know what struck me the most this time driving up North: the complete utter silence. It's probably because most of the lakes are still frozen here, but it's as near as the Yukon winter silence as I've been in many many years.

We slept at the Watson Lake territorial campground boat launch parking lot since the campsites were still covered in snow! You know what struck me the most this time driving up North: the complete utter silence. It's probably because most of the lakes are still frozen here, but it's as near as the Yukon winter silence as I've been in many many years.

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And we made it to our friends’ place in Whitehorse! This is their backyard on Kookatsoon Lake, our view from the bus for the next few weeks!

And we made it to our friends’ place in Whitehorse! This is their backyard on Kookatsoon Lake, our view from the bus for the next few weeks!

Camping in BC can be pretty expensive, but it is also fairly easy to find free camping spots as long as you are not on the islands or the coast. We used a combination of iOverlander, Park4night and Campendium (where I posted many reviews years ago about many spots in Northern BC) and were able to not pay for a site once after leaving the island. Granted, there were quite a few parking lot and industrial area nights, but as soon as you get North of Prince George, there are many rest areas and pull outs on the side of the roads where you can sleep for free, all the way to the Yukon!

 

Northward bound!

Martine has started a tradition to give me a mug evertime I visit. I LOVE this new one!

Snow fight at Lake Louise. The Lake was still frozen, but still a stunning turquoise!

Driving the Icefield Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Park. One of the most stunning drives in BC.

I love that we are following Spring all the way up North (remember the cactus in bloom in Tucson in February and the lilacs in Virgin in March?) and fall all the way down South! My two favorite seasons! Never too hot or too cold to play outside!

Aïsha and I could not resist peaking into this abandoned café and hotel. You probably know by now that I have a thing for abandoned place. This one was pretty sketchy, but fascinating. There is something about witnessing this life frozen in time... Of course, when your selling points to attract clients were clean rooms and cable TV, no wonder you went out of business...

Aïsha and I could not resist peaking into this abandoned café and hotel. You probably know by now that I have a thing for abandoned place. This one was pretty sketchy, but fascinating. There is something about witnessing this life frozen in time... Of course, when your selling points to attract clients were clean rooms and cable TV, no wonder you went out of business...

As usual, we were treated to a real show on our way North. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, a wolf, cariboos, moose, lots of bears and even brand new bison babies...

Oh and we stopped at Liard Hot Springs, of course! As close to paradise as you can get!

If you are planning to drive North, I recommend that you come up through Glacier National Park (crossing near Babb), check the Canadian side of Glacier (Waterton Lakes National Park) and head towards Calgary on Highway 2, then to Canmore on the TransCanada Highway (spend some time there, it's a super cool city, lots of biking, hiking, climbing), then a stop in Banff and Lake Louise, and then onto the Icefield Parkway. That's a must! Know that there is no connexion at all in Banff and Jasper National Parks, but there is some in Lake Louise, in Banff and Jasper (town). There are tons of nice hikes to do in these two parks. Our friend Melissa who knows the area pretty well recommended these hikes: Cirque Peak, Parker Ridge, Fish Lake (2 days), Bow Falls, and the little stops like Peyto Lake, Sunwapta falls and Maligne Canyon. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do any of these this time, but are planning to take some time off work next time to explore more.

Then, take the 16 to Prince George and head North on the 97 to Fort St. John, and all the way up to Whitehorse! The drive between Fort Nelson and Liard is the nicest. Make sure to do it by day as you are likely to see many animals. There are pullouts along the road where you can spend the night. There is a nice flat pullout just before Summit Lake and a few more between Summit Lake and Muncho Lake. There is no signal from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake (you'll get some in Steamboat a little after Fort Nelson). Then, no signal from Watson Lake to Teslin. Make sure to have enough fuel or carry a jerry can of gas with you since the gas stations are far and few, some are closed and some are sometimes out of gas.

I am publishing this post from Teslin, 3 hours from Whitehorse. We'll be there tonight! So excited to be back!