Welcome to the top of the World. During your Alaska Highway roadtrip, you can try dog sledding, panning for gold, ice fishing, bear hunting, flightseeing, heli-hiking and/or touring glaciers.
When gold was discovered on Bonanza Creek in the Klondike in the 1890s, the world quickly heard about it and 100,000 treasure-seekers dropped what they were doing and set off on the journey of their lives to get rich in the frozen north.
Today, we have the Alaska Highway, a paved passage through the wilds that crosses the dangerous and tangled routes of many of the Klondike gold seekers. Whitehorse, on the Alaska Highway, played a pivotal role in the Gold Rush.
There’s still gold in the hills! You can learn the history of the adventurers and the dancehall girls while panning for your own share of the wealth!
Europeans got the idea for dog sledding from First Nations peoples and then replaced the flat-bottomed sled design with designs that featured two rails for ease of gliding over deep snow. This is still the standard design.
You can usually visit dog sledding operators any time of the year in the Yukon and Alaska. You’ll get a chance to meet the dogs (sometimes several teams of 12 animals), tethered and waiting for their chance to run as a pack. When the dogs know there’s a team being assembled by the operator, the level of excitement – leaping, straining and barking – will reach a fever pitch and howling furor before they are harnessed and given the go ahead to run with each other and the sled (or four wheel vehicle). If you’re on it, prepare for an adrenaline-fuelled romp!
Streeper Kennels located in Fort Nelson (historical mile 300 of the Alaska Highway) is home to generations of world winning dog sled teams. The kennel consists of 150 dogs, with 50 puppies (raised each summer), 50 yearlings and 50 adult race dogs. In the beginning of March of each year the Canadian Open Sled Dog Championship is held in Fort Nelson. During the off-season, stop by Streeper Kennels for a full tour and an opportunity to meet the dogs and puppies.
Hiking up a mountain is challenging and fun, but up here along the Alaska Highway you have another option: Get dropped off on a peak by a helicopter, enjoy your hike and then get picked up again a few hours later in time for dinner in the valley below.
Heli hiking operators can be found in many location throughout northern BC, the Yukon and Alaska. There are several companies to choose from, in Whitehorse and Delta Junction, for alpine tours that follow pre-existing routes or let you customize the flight plan. Many helicopters feature full view windows for every passenger that provide panoramic views of the scenery below.
Planning your adventures
With so much to choose from — year-round fishing, bear hunting, flightseeing, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, dirt biking and motorcycling, canoeing, paddle boarding, camping, kayaking and more… make sure you:
- Go with a guide and research your choices online
- Get fit, prepare yourself mentally and plan for safe adventures
Chris Gale – Wild North Photos