Driving the Top of the World Highway from Dawson City, Yukon to its intersect with Alaska Highway, there are few places to stop for lunch if you’re thinking of purchasing something. After the road changes names to Taylor Highway and descends into the 40 Mile Valley, you’ll discover the community of Chicken, the ONLY place to stop while driving the Top of the World/Taylor Highway. Luckily, there are several business that do it all—food, lodging and fuel.
When Alan and I traveled to this funky part of Alaska, we followed advice that we read in The Milepost, the self-proclaimed “bible of North Country travel.” So where did we go? Beautiful Downtown Chicken. The trio of businesses—Chicken Mercantile Emporium, Chicken Creek Cafe, and Chicken Saloon and Liquor are the creation of Susan Wire, who bakes a delicious chocolate chip cookie, although she’s even more famous for her cinnamon buns. Susan could also be called a master at promotion and entrepreneurship. About 20 years ago, she followed a boyfriend out to the Alaskan wilderness from back East and saw possibility when she had a chance to buy three run-down buildings in Chicken. So Susan went for it, according to the faded magazine article on the bulletin board, and Beautiful Downtown Chicken has become a must stop when driving in this part of the world. Even the tour buses stop here.
Standing at the lunch counter of the Chicken Creek Cafe, it was hard to decide what to order. Although the chicken pot pie looked scrumptious, Alan settled for a sandwich and I tried the bison chile. The male cook (wish we had asked his name), delighted us with stories of gold mining and life in Chicken as he prepared our food. We had finally met a true Alaskan character. How many people do you know who summer in Chicken and winter in Barrow, Alaska?
The counter literally groaned with homemade pies and cookies. Being sensible, Alan and I chose one exceptionally large chocolate chip cookie and shared it. Next time, even though there’s no indoor plumbing, telephone or internet, we’ll find a place to stay—there are a couple of cabin rentals in the area. Maybe we’ll take a guided gold panning trip, fish the creek or explore the many dirt roads that thread the valley. Or perhaps we’ll hang around Beautiful Downtown Chicken listening to the stories of the real Alaska.
Read the entire collection of Alaska Highway road trip articles to plan your own trip. Boomer adventure guaranteed.
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