Leaving Teslin Lake Yukon Government Campground in the morning, we weren’t planning to cover a ton of ground on this day, but instead squeeze as much out of it as we could.
We decided to take a slight detour down 8 to the Carcross area, where there were a few fun little stops we wanted to make. We could have continued another two hours from here to the Alaskan town of Skagway, but since nothing in particular was drawing us there, we didn’t feel like it was worth another international border crossing, at least at the time.
Carcross – A “Desert”, Turquoise Lakes, and Tourist Traps
Our first stop in Carcross was to the “Carcross Desert” – a one square mile area of sand dunes that were deposited by the adjacent lake over time. Not quite a desert by scientific standards, it’s a unique phenomenon to take off your shoes and climb big sand hills to alpine views! It is apparently a biologically-rich area, too – scientists have found several insect species completely unique to this tiny ecosystem! Here, we ran into a local Yukon couple picnicking on the dunes who really talked up Dawson City and got us even more excited for Alaska, saying that despite growing up in the vast wilderness of the Yukon, the magnitude of Alaska blew them away. I was starting to salivate!
Our next stop was at the tourist trap of Caribou Crossing. We don’t usually stop at these types of places, but we had seen them promote their resident Alaskan husky sled dogs and I’m always up for a good petting zoo, so we shelled out the $8C/person to check it out. They had a cute gift shop and some mock historical buildings to check out, but we most liked feeding the goats and alpacas and getting to pet a couple of sled dogs! They did a quick demo of the dogs pulling a cart full of visitors, which was kind of cool to see. Not the most impressive place overall but a cute stop nonetheless.
We also checked out another nearby popular stop for tour buses out of Skagway – Emerald Lake. We were a little disappointed that there didn’t seem to really be access to it other than an overlook on the road, but it was worth a stop. Just look at that blue water!
Whitehorse, Capital of the Yukon
We finished our side trips by noon and took the afternoon to explore historic downtown Whitehorse. The population of the entire Yukon territory is around 36,000 and just shy of 30,000 live in Whitehorse, so it is safe to say it is the heartbeat and lifeline of the Yukon!
The beautifully restored S.S. Klondike is a centerpiece of downtown. Formerly having served as an important transportation method for cargo and travelers alike, this beauty was retired in the 1960s and is now accessible for free tours. The video they have running on loop has some really awesome footage from the ship’s heyday in the early 20th century and the staff is extremely knowledgeable.
We then parked at the visitor’s center all hitched up, though we had to park on the street because the RV spots around back were all taken. The facility was one of the best we’d seen, offering private workspaces, free wifi, and great resources! We were sent away with a bag full of maps and some good recommendations for local food. It was a quick walk away to a tasty shawarma counter that also served local draft beers, called Big Bear Donair. My beer was brewed with honey made from Alaska’s signature wildflower – fireweed. So good!
We could have easily parked for the night with dozens of other RVs in the uber popular Whitehorse Walmart, but instead just took advantage of their generous free dump station and fresh water fill, and landed at one of the prettiest Canadian campgrounds we’d found yet – Fox Lake. About an hour north of Whitehorse, we squeezed into one of the last sites in this popular local’s spot on a Friday night. We chatted it up with our neighbors while taking in these spectacular views. For less than $10USD, we couldn’t ask for more!