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Nicole Amos

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Riding with BC Ferries Vancouver to Victoria

We took the ferry from Vancouver (Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) with BC Ferries and it was quite the pleasant experience.  From boarding on time, easy parking of our RV to the several surprises that awiated us when we boarded the ferry including several food options, an arcade for all ages and plenty of seating all with great views!  Our ferry ride to Victoria was probably the best ferry ride we have ever gone on! This one and a half hour ride offers breathtaking sights only seen from the water, a good chance of spotting marine wildlife and much more.

Here is our experience riding with BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria!

Riding with BC Ferries is one of the several ways to get from mainland British Columbia to Vancouver Island.  As you cruise through the Strait of Georgia the breathtaking scenery offered from both indoor areas as well as outdoors on the top deck either way it will be an experience you will not soon forget.  With a change of seeing marine wildlife including whales, seals and much more make sure to keep your eyes on the look out and cameras at the ready.

Your cruise begins at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal which is located thirty minutes south of Vancouver and lands at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in Sidney, located thirty minutes north of Victoria.  Reservations are not required but recommended especially if you are brining a vehicle or RV aboard the ferry to guarantee yourself a spot especially on weekends and busy tourist season.  If you are travelling without a vehicle you can either park your car at the terminals or there are buses that service the terminals.

There is plenty of things to do aboard the ferry on your one hour thirty minute ride including an arcade area for kids and adults alike, plenty of seating to read, relax or just watch the scenery pass by.  There is the Passages Gift Shop where you can by west coast jewellery, books, magazines, snacks, clothing and souvenirs.  If you are hungry then make sure to stop by one of the several food options including the Pacific Buffet that has a wide variety of options from sandwiches to a hot meal or the coffee shop.

Driving the Golden Circle – Alaska & Yukon

There is no better way to see some of the most scenic highways in Alaska, Northern British Columbia and the Yukon than driving the Golden Circle Tour.  Encounter snow covered mountains, majestic fjords, well maintained roads, plentiful wildlife and so much more.  The tour can start from Haines, Whitehorse or Haines Junction or anywhere in between!  We started the loop in Whitehorse, Yukon where you travel west along the Alaska Highway towards Haines Junction, Yukon.  From Haines Junction, Yukon you travel through British Columbia along the Haines Highway to Haines, Alaska.  To get from Haines to Skagway, Alaska you have to take the ferry to cross the scenic Lynn Canal.  Then from Skagway you head north along the famous Klondike Highway back to Whitehorse.  Below is a detailed breakdown of all the places to stop along the beautiful Golden Circle Tour!


Whitehorse, Yukon

Start your Golden Circle Tour journey is Whitehorse, Yukon.  The capital city of the Yukon has so much to offer sitting along the bank of the mighty Yukon River.  From the steaming Takhini Hot Springs,  the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Miles Canyon and   the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site there are so many things you will not want to miss in this vibrant city.  Here is our travel guide to visiting Whitehorse, Yukon to make sure all your questions are covered during your stop in Wilderness City.  Make sure to check out our Top 13 Things to do in Whitehorse, Yukon so you don’t miss a thing.  The hub of the Yukon has everything you need for a single night or multi night stop over including great restaurants, hotels, groceries and more.  The next stop on the Golden Circle Tour is Haines Junction, Yukon.


Haines Junction, Yukon

As you head long the Alaska Highway towards Haines Junction the snowy mountains of the St. Elias Mountian range will begin to come into view and offer an incredible view.  While in Haines Junction make sure to spend a day visiting Kluane National Park & Reserve.  From the many hiking trails in the area to the flightseeing tours that taking you soaring 6000 feet over the mountain tops your visit to Haines Junction will leave you speechless.  On your way out of town make sure to stop in Yukon’s largest ghost town, Silver City.  Haines Junction is where the Alaska and Haines Highway meet, next head down the Haines Highway for a drive you will never forget to Haines, Alaska.


Haines, Alaska

As you travel down the Haines Highway from Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska on the Golden Circle Tour you cross through northern British Columbia.  The drive down the highway takes you along the border of Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site dubbed the Kluane/Wrangell-St.Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alesk UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Once you have arrived in Haines, Alaska ensure to check out the Bald Eagle Preserve, go bear watching around Chilkoot Lake and enjoy the beauty the adventure capital – Haines! Your next stop on the Golden Circle Tour is taking the ferry from Haines to Skagway.  The ferry terminal is located right in the harbour of the town and can either take the pedestrian fast ferry or the Alaska Marine Highway System that transports cars across the Lynn Canal.


Skagway

Once you have crossed the majestic fjords of the Lynn Canal on the ferry from Haines to Skagway you arrive in the gold rush town of Skagway, Alaska.  Make sure to spend a least a day in Skagway to enjoy the rich Klondike Gold Rush history.  Skagway was the boomtown gateway to the Trail of ’98 and the Klondike Gold Fields.  Skagway is the northern-most point in Alaska’s Inside Passage.  Home to the White Pass and Yukon Route one of Alaska’s most popular visitor attractions, as well as the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and many more historical landmarks that bring the Klondike Gold Rush back to life for each and every visitor.  Take a step back in time and experience what it was like for each and everyone of the fortune-seekers that headed north in search of fortune and the new frontier.


Drive Back to Whitehorse

From Skagway you are less than three hours drive back to Whitehorse.  As you drive northbound on the Klondike Highway towards Whitehorse this highway takes you along the historical gold rush route.  You will be crossing back through the Canadian Border in Fraser, British Columbia make sure to pull over and take in the scenery and ever go for a quick kayak ride before you continue on towards Whitehorse.  Make sure to stop mid-way in Carcross for incredible First Nations culture as visit the worlds smallest desert!

 

Top 6 Things to do in Carcross, Yukon

Carcross, the charming lakeshore village that is teeming with gold-rush and First Nations history is only a short 40 minute drive away from Whitehorse.  Its name may lead you to believe it is a hotspot for automobiles it is actually a shortened form of the name Caribou Crossing.  This name came from the herds of Caribou that once migrated through the narrow strip of land between Bennett and Nares lakes in the days prior to the gold rush.    This quaint town is booming with history and is just waiting for tourists to stop in and visit.  From the home of Skookum Jim, one of the men credited with finding gold that spawned the Klondike Gold Rush, the oldest operating building in the Yukon, the worlds smallest desert and so much more Carcross, Yukon has so much to offer.

Here are the top 6 things to do while visiting Carcross, Yukon!

Carcross Desert

Carcross is home to the worlds smallest desert – one beautiful mile of rolling sand dunes.  Although technically not a real desert as the area is considered too humid, this geological anomaly is a must see sight while in Carcross.  Approximately 10,000 years ago the great ice sheets that covered the majority of North America began to melt and ice dams created a series of glacial lakes that submerges some valleys under as much as 300 metres of melt water.  The glacial Lake Watson disappeared during this time and with the Watson Lake cut through the bottom sediments now allows for sand and silk into Bennet lake.  This constant supply of sand makes the Carcross Desert a very unique and dynamic system.


Mathew Watson General Store

The historic Matthew Watson General Store was built in 1898 as the Vandome Hotel and was eventually converted over to the Matthew Watson General Store.  This is the oldest continually running business in the Yukon Territory.  The Watson family ran the store for many years and it still is open and operating today.


Sternwheeler SS Tutshi Remains

The SS Tutshi was built by the British Yukon Navigation Company in 1917 at Carcross and was in service until 1955.  In 1971 the SS Tutshi began a restoration project to bring it back to its original beauty when it caught fire near the end of the restoration.  The skeletal frame and what was left of the sternwheeler is left sitting along the lakeshore in Carcross with a wooden frame show casing what the ship would have looked like if it remained whole today.


Visit the Duchess

The Duchess was once part of a matched set – her and her partner, the Duke were built in 1878 to haul coal and then later tourism.  She went out of service in 1919 and moved to Carcross for all to see in 1950 where she has stayed ever since.


Visit Carcross Commons

Make sure to spend sometime exploring the Carcross Commons with 20 artisans that make unique and locally made souvenirs.  This unique retail village features beautifully, hand crafted Tlingit-inspired totem poles, jewellery, art and much more.  Grab a bite to eat or drink or just explore the beautifully decorated shops.


Visit St. Saviour’s Church

This quaint white church was formed in 1901 and is one of the earliest influences of Chirstianity in ths area.  Sookum Jim’s daughter, Daisy Mason, was the first person to be baptized in this which is 1901.  The actual white uilding was build in 1094 and was floated across the river in 1917 to its current resting plae.  The church still holds service every first and third Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

Visiting Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site

Visiting the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site is a bucket list experience for a lot of people. Situated along the legendary fifty-three kilometre Chilkoot Trail that takes you from the tidewaters in Dyea to the shores of Bennet Lake.  The trail is managed by Parks Canada and is the exact same trail that was tried and tested the First Nations traders and the stampeders heading north to try their luck at finding gold.  The pull off for the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site Log Cabin Rest area is located at kilometre 43.9 along the South Klondike Highway where the White Pass and Yukon Route railway crosses the highway.  There is very little left along of the once booming settlement but if you head down the railway tracks you will see remnants of some of the old buildings standing next to the train tracks.

Here are some of our photos from our visit to Parks Canada’s Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site!

Driving through Fraser, British Columbia

Beautiful Fraser, British Columbia is a Canadian Border port of entry and has no permanent residences nor businesses.  Fraser began as a location of a water tower for the steam engines of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway connecting Skagway to Whitehorse.  The water tower still stands, but today the railway is used as a mode of transportation for tourism and travellers.  Fraser is located a kilometre 36.5 of the South Klondike Highway in northwestern British Columbia and is 34 km north of Skagway, Alaska and 69 km south of Carcross, Yukon.  If you plan on visiting Fraser, British Columbia make sure that you bring along your passport as you will be crossing between Canada and the United States of America.

Even though Fraser does not have any permanent residences or businesses it is sure worth pulling over after you have gone through the Canadian Border to stop and admire the breath taking mountains reflecting in the water.  If you are up for an adventure there is a company right next to the border crossing that rents out Sea Kayaks and can take you on a tour of Bernard Lake.  Whether you spend five minutes of a few hours exploring the area it is well worth the stop in Fraser, British Columbia! Be sure not to blink or you will miss this beautiful stop.

Here are some photos from our time driving through Fraser, British Columbia!

Visiting Dyea, Alaska – A Photo Guide

The quaint town of Dyea (pronounced Di-eee) was once a place of thousands of gold seekers ventured through to continue their journey on the Chilkoot Trail and now is a quiet town filled with natural beauty.  Located at the foot of the Chilkoot Trail, Dyea was established centuries before the gold rush as a summer camp by the Tlingit Natives from more populated villages down the inlet near present-day Haines.  The Tlingit built the trail over the mountain pass to allow for trade with Yukon and Alaska interior First Nation tribes.In July 1897 the first ships of gold seekers arrived and the city instantly grew to 10,000 amongst the thick spruce and hemlock forest at the edge of a long tidal flat, connected by two mile-long wharves to the ships in the inlet.  Dyea’s boomtown status was short lived and almost completely disappeared how you will find it today – two major events played in this: the avalanche on the Chilkoot Trail in April 1898 and the construction of the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad out of Skagway.

Today as you drive along the winding road that takes you into Dyea you find the entrance to the Chilkoot Trail, the old town site, cemetery for all the avalanche victims and the beautiful tidal flats.  Dyea now exists for independent travellers to explore and often will not find many others around.  Spend some time watching the salmon swim up the river during the summer and watch out of bears who may be looking for their next snack of fresh fish.  Watch the tides go in and out around what is left of the old remains of pilings from the ‘mile long dock’ that are still visible at the south end of the Dyea Flats.

Our drive into Dyea at sunset was incredibly peaceful and would highly recommend this short trip from Skagway, Alaska to anyone who enjoys the peace and quiet and natural beauty of Alaska.

Here are our photos from our sunset adventure in Dyea, Alaska!

All Aboard the White Pass and Yukon Route Train!

Hop aboard the vintage passenger coaches of the White Pass and Yukon Route train and enjoy one of the most spectacular trains rides you will ever take.  From breathtaking panoramas of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, trestles, tunnels and so much more!  This narrow gauge railway that runs from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon Territory is designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and it is easy to see why.

Here is our experience riding the White Pass and Yukon Route Train!

History of the White Pass and Yukon Route

The White Pass and Yukon Route was built in 1898-1900 during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush to open up a transportation network in the north.  The railway was considered an impossible task but was successfully built in only 26 months and opened on July 29, 1900.  The White Pass and Yukon Route became a fully integrated transportation company, provided essential infrastructure servicing the freight and passenger requirements of Alaska and the Yukon’s population and mining industry. The White Pass and Yukon Route suspended their operations in 1982 when the mining industry in the Yukon collapsed due to low mineral prices, but was reopened in 1988 as a seasonal tourism operation.  It is easy to see why the White Pass and Yukon Route is Alaska’s most popular shore excursion that carries over 400,000 passengers each season (May-September).  The White Pass and Yukon Route offers lots of combinations of tours from day trips, hiker services, one way train trips and train and motorcoach trips to see which one suites you the best you can visiting the White Pass and Yukon Route website. 


White Pass Summit Excursion

The White Pass summit excursion takes you on this fourty mile round trip excursion that climbs from Skagway to the Summit of the White Pass Mountain at 2,865 feet.  The tour is narrated by a guide that can be heard throughout the train and is very helpful pointing out when and where you should be taking photos!  Passing by several waterfalls including Bridal Veil Falls and other areas of interest include Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch .  This three hour train ride will keep you interested the entire way passing through glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites.  You see throughout your journey the original Klondike Trail of ’98 that thousands of men attempted to climb to try and find gold in the Yukon.


What To Expect on the White Pass Summit Excursion

Choose either side of the train when you walk into the vintage car as both sides of the train offers breathtaking views.  Some people declare that if they don’t sit on the left side of the train they will miss out on all the grand views but sitting on the right side offers views of the waterfalls, the upcoming bends and much more.  Regardless of what side you choose to sit from you get to switch sides on the way back down so don’t miss watching the view from either side on this round trip!

Make sure to have your camera handy and don’t be afraid to go outside to the front or back of each of the cars to capture all the picturesque landscapes and historic landmarks on the journey to the summit and back.

Make sure to bring some food on the train as you will be on there for three to three and a half hours and they do not offer any food for sale.  There is free bottled water on the train for everyone to drink!


Here are some photos from our White Pass and Yukon Route White Pass Summit Excursion!

Top 6 Things to do in Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, Alaska the Klondike Gold Rush’s boom town.  Skagway was the boomtown gateway to the Trail of ’98 and the Klondike Gold Fields.  Skagway is the northern-most point in Alaska’s Inside Passage.  Home to the White Pass and Yukon Route one of Alaska’s most popular visitor attractions, as well as the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and many more historical landmarks that bring the Klondike Gold Rush back to life for each and every visitor.  Take a step back in time and experience what it was like for each and everyone of the fortune-seekers that headed north in search of fortune and the new frontier.

Here are our top 5 things to do in Skagway, Alaska!

Ride the White Pass and Yukon Route

While in Skagway one of the top things you have to do is ride the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad which is Alaska’s most popular shore excursion that carries over 400,000 passengers each season (May-September). This narrow gauge railway that runs from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon Territory is designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and it is easy to see why.  Whether you take the White Pass Summit excursion or opt to take the full route to Carcross, Yukon this is a train ride you will not soon forget.  Make sure to read our experience riding the White Pass and Yukon Route here! 

Explore the Historic Downtown

Stroll down the historic streets of this gold rush town.  The main street has lots to offer including visitor information centre, gift shops and historic landmarks like the Red Onion Saloon.  The city still bustling with frontier freedom that welcomes all guests to a step back in time to what it was like for the thousands of fourtune-seeking prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush.  Take in the Days of 98 Show or take an interpretive tour to see all that the historic downtown has to offer.

Eat at the Red Onion Saloon

A trip to Skagway would not be complete without a trip to the Red Onion Saloon.  Sitting on the corner of 2nd and broadway this original gold rush building once operated as one of the finest brothels in the area. Although the times has changed and the Red Onion Saloon is now a restaurant the spirit felt within the restaurant is still well and alive.  Come in for a bite to eat and a drink or take a tour into the brothel museum either way this is a place you cannot miss as how many times can you say you’ve had a meal in a brothel?

Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park preserves and shares the history of the Klondike Gold Rush.  The park consists of four different pieces including the six-block historic business district in Skagway, the Chilkoot Trail, a corridor comprising the White Pass Trail and the visitor centre in Pioneer Square in Seattle, Washington.  Explore as much or as little of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park as you would like throughout your trip through Skagway.

Take a Short Trip to Dyea

A few miles away from Skagway is a place where local residents and visitors alike cherish for its local beauty.  This quaint town is home to the trailhead to the famous Chilkoot Trail and was where thousands of gold seekers arrived to head north.  Drive through the old town site and visit the Slide Cemetery where many of the 1898 avalance victims are buried.  Make sure to head out to the Dyea Tide Flats and watch the tide come in and out, see the salmon swimming in the river and you may even catch site of a few bears looking for their next meal.

Visit Bridal Veil Falls

One of the portions of this beautiful, long, steep cascade of Bridal Veil Falls can be partially seen from the White Pass Highway just outside of Skagway on your way to the Canadian border.  This portion of the waterfall is directly next to the White Pass Highway with a pull off just before the waterfall.  The vast majority of the waterfall is out of sight from the roadside as it goes through a tunnel under the road to continue to cascade down the mountain.  To be able to view the waterfall in the majority of its entirety you can either see it on the White Pass Summit excursion or on the Bridal Veil Falls and Valdez Goat Trail.

12 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Haines, Alaska

This quaint town of Haines, Alaska is a charming port town situated on the Chilkat Intlet.  Here it is no uncommon to have Bald Eagles soar overhead, black bears and grizzly bears catching salmon out of the stream in the local lake and rivers, snowy mountain tops all around you and Arctic tundra meets temperate coastal forest. Haines, Alaska is located at the upper end of North America’s longest and deepest fjord, Lynn Canal.  Home to abundant wildlife including over 260 species of birds that pass through the Chilkat Valley each year as well as black bears and grizzly bears.   Take a walk along the waterfront and take in the crisp blue water along the mossy green rocks as the tide is out or go for a walk at the base of the mountains and breathe in the fresh mountain.  A place for those looking for a peaceful getaway, hikers or adventurers at heart looking for beautiful scenery there is something for everyone in Haines, Alaska.  We did not get a chance to spend a ton of time before we took the ferry over to Skagway but we will be back to spend more time in Haines next time we visit Alaska!

Here are 12 photos that will make you want to visit Haines – The Adventure Capital of Alaska.  

Visiting Haines, Alaska

Haines, Alaska is a small town with big heart.  So many things to do in this beautiful mountainous town it is a must stop on your journey to either British Columbia or Alaska.  From spectacular hikes, wildlife viewing to relaxing in a quaint coffee shop and enjoy the scenery.  This charming port town on the Chilkat Inlet is perfect for both land and sea based exploration.  Haines is known as the ‘Adventure Capital of Alaska and it is easy to see why! Below are our top things to do while visiting this beautiful port town of Haines, Alaska.


Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site

Located only 8 miles south of Haines on Mud Bay Road this incredibly scene state park is a must see while visiting Haines.  One of the best places to see grizzly bears eating salmon out of the river is right here in the park.   Make sure to drive to the end of the road in the park that follows the river to the beautiful emerald green Chilkoot Lake where you can rent canoes, kayaks or even try your hand at fishing.


Bear Viewing

Nothing provides a thrill quite like seeing bears in their nature habitat.  In Haines you can find black bears and grizzly bears.  Bears can be found anywhere throughout the Chilkat Valley but there are specific areas that are better known for optimal bear viewing.  The Chilkoot Lake and Chilkoot River offer some of the best bear viewing in Alaska.  The bears can be found anywhere along the river but often are seen on the bridge pulling salmon right out of the river.  To see all our photos from our bear viewing in Chilkoot Lake make sure to check them out here!


Take the Ferry to Skagway for a Day Trip

Take the fast ferry for pedestrian serve between Haines and Skagway during the summer season to visit the gold rush town of Skagway. There is plenty to do in Skagway including mining for gold, have a bite to eat or drink in an old brothel, exploring the historic buildings from the gold rush or taking the White Pass & Yukon Route up the mountain to name a few things.

 


Visit the Hammer Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit the first museum in the world that is entirely dedicated to hammers.  The museum was opened in 2002 thaChilt features over 1,400 hammers and related tools that range from -re-historic hammers, to colonial days to current day.  If you enjoy tools or just are interested to see what it is all about make sure to swing by the museum and try counting all of the hammers while you are in there!


Visit the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagle and their critical habitat.  Additionally it protects the natural salmon runs and allows for traditional uses.  Bald Eagles are attracted to the area by the wide available of the spawned-out salmon and open waters in late fall and winter.  The eagles can be seen along the Haines Highway in several different pull offs where you can stop and view them on the flats in their natural habitat.