Include Dawson City on Your Alaska Highway Road Trip

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One of the beauties of an Alaska Highway road trip is the diversity of alternate routes. There are so many options! That’s how Alan and I ended up exploring Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

View along the Klondike Highway on the way to Dawson City. Read our boomer travel tips for getting there.
View along the Klondike Highway on the way to Dawson City.

We left the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse for the 330-mile-drive on the Klondike Highway to Dawson City because that’s where access to Top of the World Highway begins—after a ferry ride across the Yukon River. It took six hours but, during the Klondike Gold Rush, prospectors arriving by stagecoach would have traveled five days on a similar route before reaching the gold mining town.

Can you imagine? When gold was discovered at Bonanza Creek in 1896, a stampede of an estimated 100,000 prospectors rushed to the Klondike to claim their share of the riches. And 30,000 to 40,000 of them made their way to Dawson City. If you’ve ever traveled in this remote region of Canada, then you know just how astounding those numbers are. Talk about tough men and women!

Tips for visiting Dawson City as part of an Alaska Highway road trip.
A colorful scene in Dawson City.

Today, Dawson City is the jumping off point for a drive on the Top of the World Highway—our goal. It’s also a base for exploring Tombstone Territorial Park or a rest stop before driving the Dempster Highway all the way to the Arctic Ocean—a boomer adventure that’s definitely on our bucket list.

Alan and I found Dawson City to be an interesting two-night stopover. Arriving in September meant that some of the shops and facilities had already closed for the season. But we still found enough facilities open to accommodate our stay.

Traveling to Dawson City, Yukon Territory? We recommend staying at Westmark Inn.
Colorful buildings of Westmark Inn, wooden sidewalks and dirt streets give Dawson City an historical feel.

During our two nights in Dawson City, we stayed at the Westmark Inn. The hotel, owned by Holland America, is a series of brightly painted, rambling wooden structures. We enjoyed a clean, comfortable room in the annex that included decent Wi-Fi.

Since the Westmark Inn Dawson City is the hotel that Holland America uses for post and pre land excursions on Alaska cruises, expect a crowd when their tours are in town.

On a visit to Dawson City, enjoy a bowl of salmon chowder.
Be sure to try the salmon chowder.

We enjoyed Belinda’s Dining Room in the Westmark Inn for a convenient breakfast and dinner location. Klondike Kate’s is another good choice. Or stroll until you see an appealing restaurant. What dishes should you try in Yukon Territory? Salmon, Arctic grayling, halibut, and moose burgers are good choices. I highly recommend a bowl of salmon chowder.

Strolling the Waterfront Trail in Dawson City is a great way to exercise on a long, road trip.
After long days on the road, stretching our legs on the Waterfront Trail feels great!

One downside to our “stay two night” road trip rule is that we didn’t have enough time to explore Dawson City. After so much driving, Alan and I spent the free day walking the wooden sidewalks of this historic Yukon town and strolling on the Waterfront Trail by the Yukon River dike.

Learn about Dawson City and gold rush history by riding the Klondike Spirit paddle wheeler.
Learn about gold rush history by riding the Klondike Spirit paddle wheeler.

Next time, we’ll build in at least one more day to tour a gold mine, take the scenic drive to Tombstone Territorial Park or climb the summit of Midnight Dome. Riding the paddle wheeler, Klondike Spirit, is another option. Did you know that some prospectors arrived in Dawson City by riverboat to reach the gold fields?

Interested in driving the Alaska Highway? You need a copy of The Milepost.

On our next Alaska adventure, Alan and I would like to ride the Alaska Marine Highway to Skagway to access the southern end of the Klondike Highway and drive it all the way north to Dawson City. Wouldn’t that be a fun travel adventure?

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

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