Wildlife Watching on Taylor Highway

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Wildlife on the Top of the World Highway
A reindeer stands in brilliantly colored fireweed.

When Alan and I planned our Alaska Highway road trip adventure, we hoped to see lots of wildlife. Were the highways brimming with animal sightings? Not really. Our total count of wildlife viewings on the road were 3 black bears on the Cassiar Highway, a bald eagle near Dawson city and the reindeer pictured above.

We saw this fellow as he bolted across the Taylor Highway on the drive from Chicken to Tok in Alaska. According to The Milepost, the Fortymile caribou herd roams the area as well, but we didn’t see a single member of the 40,000 caribou in the herd.

What we did see was a stupendous display of fireweed. The pink wildflower, which thrives in burn areas, turns to red and gold in the autumn blazing across the landscape in a fiery display of color. Lucky for us, this reindeer was standing on a small patch of the 1.3 million acres burned by the 2004 Taylor Complex fire. Where there once was an abundance of trees was now a prolific stand of fireweed and the perfect setting for this photo.

Alan slowed the truck to a stop in the middle of the highway—we didn’t pass a single car during the drive—while I grabbed the Panasonic Lumix and zoomed in as closely as possible. The reindeer paused to stare at us at just the right moment. I stuck my head out the window and thanked him. But, then again, I’ve been known to talk to the deer on our Montana dirt road. The reindeer? He pranced away with a snort.

Read the entire collection of Alaska Highway road trip articles to plan your own trip. Boomer adventure guaranteed.

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