Tag

Haines Junction

Browsing

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!

 

Glacier Flightseeing Over Kluane National Park

Flightseeing through the Saint Elias Mountains over Kluane National Park and Reserve towards North America’s tallest and largest mountain, Mt Logan, was the adventure of a lifetime.  As we travelled down the Alaska Highway towards the dirt airfield that is home to Icefield Discovery, we couldn’t help but be excited – we were going to get to see the beautiful Kluane National Park and Reserve from the air, which really is one of the best ways to experience this breathtaking National Park.

The glacier flightseeing tour with Icefield Discovery over the park is such a special trip as many people never reach the south-west corner of the Yukon Territory to experience it.  Icefield Discovery has been operating out of the region for over 30 years now initially supporting research needs to discover and understand the mountain region and beyond.  Overtime Icefield Discovery branched out to include flights for climbers and flightseeing for tourism.

As we rolled in to the airfield we were met by Tom who would be our pilot and the individual who would be instrumental in providing us with one of the coolest experiences we have ever done!  We quickly got all of our gear ready for our flight (GoPro, Osmo, two Nikon D610 cameras) and could not wait to take off!  Tom took us over the flight plan – we would fly over the St. Elias Mountains passing many of the main peeks along the way including Mt. Steele, Vancouver, King George, Kennedy, Hubbard, Lucania, Pinnacle, Mt. St. Elias and lastly would land in front of Mt. Logan, North Americas largest peak, on the worlds largest non-polar icefield.  Did you know that a glacier is only called a glacier when moving through a valley? Otherwise it is called an icefield!

Chris jumped in the front seat next to Tom and I got in the backseat behind them! I was happy to sit behind the two of them so I could take photos from both sides of the plane.  Our bright yellow Helio Courier C-GXFB headed towards the end of the runway, spun around and we were off in the air!

As we took off we were immediately greeted with views of Kluane Lake and Williscoft Peak.

We began to climb up the Slims River Valley, something that now looks like a dried up river bed was once the place where the glacier’s meltwater drained into Kluane Lake.  In 2016 this glacier receded turning the meltwater towards the Pacific ocean and drying up the Slims River.

Slims River Valley

Shortly after climbing through the Slims River Valley we entered into the Kaskawulsh Glacier which appeared to go on forever.  This vast, temperate valley glacier in the heart of the St. Elias Mountain Range covers more than 39,000 square kilometres.  The Kaskawulsh Glacier is a result of two converging outlet glaciers and has been measured as wide as 4 – 6.5km at its boardest point.  The glacier has slowly been receding, which resulted in the meltwater changing from draining down the Slims River to towards the Pacific Ocean.

Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier

Kaskawulsh Glacier

Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier

As we soar over the Kaskwulsh Glacier and head west towards Mt. Logan the snowy mountains that had been sitting in the distance finally came into full view!  These beautiful snow covered mountains against the bright blue sky make for a stunning view!

View from the Cockpit

We followed the glacier bends and turns and we were shortly in the heart of the snowy white St. Elias Mountain Range.  The mountains appear to go on forever with peaks of various size everywhere, and then Mount Logan came into view! All 11 peaks of Canadas highest mountain, Mount Logan, were in view during our morning flightseeing tour.

Mount Logan in the Distance

Mount Logan is surrounded by other giants including Mount Kennedy and Mount Washington both standing at over 5000 metres tall.  We really felt like we were on the top of the world, and we began our descent down onto the icefield.  Tom began to lower the skis for landing – one that was much smoother than we initially expected for landing on a rough icefield!

Coming in for landing on the Icefield in front of Mount Logan

Once we exited the plane, the complete silence other than the wind whistling through the mountains was like nothing else we had ever experienced.  There was no one else on the icefield with us, and to our right was a white and orange tent used for overnight experiences offered through Icefield Discovery.  We explored the area and enjoyed the warm sun beating down on the frozen icefield.

Icefield Discovery Helio Couier on the Icefield
Chris & Icefield Discovery Helio Couier on the Icefield

Icefield Discovery Helio Couier on the Icefield
Mount Logan
Chris & Nicole with Icefield Discovery Helio Couier on the Icefield
Nicole & Icefield Discovery Helio Couier on the Icefield

We spent about 30 minutes on the icefield which was the perfect amount of time to see everything within a close walk of the plane.  Standing on ice that is over 700 metres thick, and seeing areas that no man has ever walked before is an experience you will not soon forget.

Heading away from Mount Logan with Tom and Chris in the Front

As we re-board the plane and have an incredibly smooth take off, we say goodbye to Mount Logan and head towards Icefield Discovery’s hangar.  We take a similar route back, but this time Tom takes us much lower to the ground so we can get a different perspective of the Kaskawulsh Glacier and surrounding mountain range.

Flying over the Kaskawulsh Glacier
Pools of Glacial Ice on the Kaskawulsh Glacier

The ever changing Kaskawulsh Glacier has thousands of cracks, ridges and even pools of bright, turquoise blue pools.  These turquoise pools are rich in oxygen making the water turn this colour.

After we re-enter the Slim River Valley we are almost back in Silver City at the Icefield Discovery airstrip.  We fly over Kluane Lake.

Flying over Kluane Lake
Flying over Kluane Lake

As we land back on the dirt airstrip another group is waiting for Tom to take them on their own adventure of a lifetime.  We could not thank Tom and the Icefield Discovery team enough for such an incredible adventure!  Without a doubt this was the highlight of our road trip through the Yukon and should be a bucket list item for everyone travelling through the territory.

As we leave the plane we can see the excitement in the next group’s eyes – we turn to them and say “Have fun your going to love it!’ – How couldn’t they? It’s the ultimate ride of a lifetime.


Make sure to watch the video of our flightseeing trip below!

Beaver Creek to Haines Junction

As we left Alaska and headed back into the Yukon, Canada we encountered some incredible landscapes between Beaver Creek and Haines Junction.  Some of our favourite memories are spent while on the road with some of the landscapes that sit on either side of the highway.  You will frequently see us pulled over at a rest stop or on the side of the highway taking photos of these amazing landscapes! From the time we crossed the boundary line between Alaska and the Yukon to reaching Beaver Creek, Canada’s most westerly community, we knew we were in for an amazing drive.  Beaver Creek sits about 300km northwest of Haines Junction with the Alaska Highway being the only major road to connect the two cities.  As we travelled southeast down the Alaska Highway the Saint Elias Mountains begin to grow bigger and bigger as you drive towards Kluane National Park.

Below are some of the photos from our drive between Beaver Creek and Haines Junction!