Whitehorse is a destination on many a bucket list. The Klondike history inspires dreams of the Wild West, dusted in gold flakes, with a pinch of rugged wear and tear. Modern transportation has made Whitehorse far more accessible at only a short flight away from Edmonton. But you’ll agree, taking away the travel takes away a little of the allure. Slow your pace a little and appreciate just how far away the Klondike really is. This itinerary takes your from Edmonton and through farm country, into Grand Prairie and onto Dawson Creek. You will start your trek onto the Alaska Highway at Mile 0 – Dawson Creek. After Dawson Creek you will travel through a handful of eccentric northern towns until you reach the beautiful Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park. Finally, after a solid rest in the Hot Springs, you’ll make your final voyage through northern BC and southern Yukon until you reach your final destination, Whitehorse, Yukon.
If you are driving to Alaska from Yukon, see: Road Trip: South Klondike Highway from Whitehorse, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska
Edmonton → Dawson Creek → Liard Hot Springs → Whitehorse
Depending on your driving style, your road trip plans, and your vehicle, you may want to drive as little as three hours a day, or as much as twelve.
This itinerary is divided into three parts:
- Edmonton to Dawson Creek;
- Dawson Creek to Liard Hot Springs;
- Liard Hot Springs to Whitehorse.
With this itinerary a single driver can comfortably reach each destination without driving fatigue, while allowing time for meals and a bit of sightseeing. Of course, driving times will change depending on road conditions, speed, and preference. Use this guide to plan where you will stop, and how long you want your road trip to last. Pack up and get on with it – this is going to be the trip of a lifetime!
Edmonton to Dawson Creek ~ 584 kms, 6 driving hours
Follow Highway 16 out of the city centre and turn off onto Alberta Highway 43. Here you will meander across the rolling hills and through the harvest fields until you reach Whitecourt. On this drive, the landscape will change faster than the sunrise, so be sure to appreciate everything you see before you.
Whitecourt – 180 km from Edmonton
Whitecourt is a small town of approximately 10000, but compared to the farm towns you’ve just driven through, it’s positively a metropolis. The town is driven by three major industries: forestry, oil & gas, and tourism. You’re not going to be chopping down trees on this trip, and you probably won’t set up a pumpjack along your way, so help out the local economy with some good old fashion sightseeing:
•Visit the Forest Interpretive Centre, home to the Visitor Information Centre, Interpretive Gallery, and Heritage Park
• See breathtaking views of the area from Coal Mine Hill Lookout, accessible either by foot or by car
• Stand at the Geographical Centre of Alberta – You’re about to drive its length, so might as well find the centre!
Grand Prairie – 280 km from Whitecourt
Continuing on Highway 43, make your way through more farmland north to Grande Prairie. With a population of over 60,000 Grande Prairie is a great spot to stop at all those services you didn’t know you’d need. Pick up your forgotten groceries, top up the fluids you missed before you left, and of course set aside some time to check out the city!
Located in southern part of Peace River Country, Grande Prairie is the idyllic vision of pioneer-era descriptions of central Canada. The rolling hills, fertile soil, and abundance of cowboys make it the picture of Alberta! Here is a list of some of GP’s greatest highlights:
• Take a walk on the wild side at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum where you can walk amongst real dinosaur skeletons excavated in the area!
• If you’ve been driving this far, it’s time to switch with your passenger. Tour the GP Brewing Co. and really get a head start on this vacation.
• Stretch your legs and breathe in the rich prairie air at Muskoseepi Park in the heart of downtown.
Dawson Creek – 130 km from Grand Prairie
This is your last leg of Alberta highway! Continue on the 43 until the BC border, where the same highway will become Highway 2, and keep driving North West. Dawson Creek is Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, and thus a great junction for your Klondike Road trip. This important intersection also hosts a number of historical and cultural attractions:
• Take a historic walking tour through the city and learn about Dawson Creek’s important World War II History.
• Visit Alaska Highway House to learn about the engineering feat that took 30000 US Army soldiers and civilians to build – and that will now take you up to Whitehorse!
• Dawson Creek is also the beginning of your venture through northern boreal forests; start exploring today at The Radar Lake Community Forest only minutes away from Dawson Creek’s urban centre,
Dawson Creek to Liard Hot Springs ~750 kms, 8.75 driving hours
Fort St. John – 75km from Dawson Creek
As you drive further north, the landscape will become more rugged but also more breathtaking. In the vein, the road becomes that much less populated. The further the distance between towns, the more spirit the towns must have! Fort St. John – The [self-proclaimed] Energetic City – is no exception. With under 20,000 people, Fort St. John boasts an impressive activity list:
• Take in some local culture at the North Peace Cultural Centre, regularly featuring local performing artists and entertainers
• Wander through Fish Creek Community Forest to get a taste of the great outdoors, within city limits
• Visit the Fort St. John North Peace Museum and learn about local indigenous history, as well as the impact the oil and gas industry has had on the area.
Fort Nelson – 380km from Fort St. John
Now that you’ve got your tires firmly planted on the Alaska Highway, you’ll be noticing the rapidly changing landscapes; while you began in the prairies, you are now teetering on the edges of mountain cliffs and summiting snowcapped peaks. These are some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Canada, so stop often and take it all in. Fort Nelson is a small community deep within the Northern Rockies. It is a great spot to stop and service your vehicle, grab a bite to eat, and appreciate the journey you’re on.
Toad River – 185km from Fort Nelson
Remember when I said the towns get more spirit the further they are away? Well Toad River made that rule! Less of a town than a highway stop, Toad River is everyone’s favorite Alaska Highway stop. At the Lodge you can fill up your tank, then come into the lodge for a delicious home-made meal. Don’t forget your hat! The ceiling and walls are lined with 10000+ forgotten hats already!
Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park – 110km from Toad River
Liard Hot Springs is a great place to stop on this road trip, not because it is a service centre or particularly well-trodden, but because it is beautiful. And after all this driving, you deserve a soak in these natural outdoor hot springs. If you need to stretch your muscles a little more, there are a number of hiking trails around the springs, but be bear aware; Liard is notorious for Black Bear activity.
Liard Hot Springs to Whitehorse ~645 kms, 8 hours
Watson Lake – 205 km from Liard Hot Springs
This is it! Your final journey! After Liard Hot Springs, you will continue heading North West to Watson Lake. There are very few services between communities now, so take advantage of each as you come to them. Watson Lake is Yukon’s southernmost community. This is small community has a number of outdoor recreation activities, restaurants, and service stations. But its claim to fame is its infamous Sign Post Forest. Take an hour or so out of your day to peruse through this unique Yukon site and maybe leave a sign of your own!
Teslin – 260km from Watson Lake
The Village of Teslin is home to approximately 125 Teslin Inland Tlingit First Nation. At the Nisutlin Trading Post on the highway you can fuel your vehicle, pick up a few groceries, and grab a coffee to go. The village is particularly known for its excellent fishing, so if you’ve brought your tackle box set some time aside to cast your reel into the great Teslin Lake.
Johnson’s Crossing Lodge –50km from Teslin
Johnson’s Crossing is one of those places every Yukoner will stop at every time they drive by. Here you can find home cooked meals and local artisan products, all alongside the normal fuel, grocery, and lodging amenities. Start your Yukon adventure here, at Johnson’s Crossing Lodge.
Whitehorse – 130km from Johnson’s Crossing Lodge
You’ve made it! Your final destination! The top of your bucket list! Your Klondike crusade kick off! After nearly 2500km of driving you have overcome the Rocky Mountain Range, traversed countless Provincial Parks, and hopefully seen hundreds of wildlife. Now that the driving’s done, sit back and relax in Whitehorse, the Wilderness City.
Mountains, and bears, and miles, oh my! This Road trip is one for the bucket list! You’ve seen more of Canada’s great outdoors in a few days than most will see in a lifetime. And by taking the scenic route, you’ve had plenty of time to reflect back on just how magnificent Canada’s outback truly is. Why stop the fun now? Keep going north and add the Alaska and Dempster Highways to your road tripping repertoire.