We stayed in Dawson City a couple of extra days waiting for the rain to subside before heading to our next destination, Tombstone Territorial Park in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The road to the park, the Dempster Highway, is a gravel road with a terrible reputation. So ideally we wanted to drive there when the road was dry. But ultimately we decided to move on even though it had rained the previous night and the road was sure to still be wet.
Fortunately, it was only 44 miles on the Dempster Highway to our campground. The road was not as bad as we expected. In fact many times we asked others about it, their answer was “it’s not that bad”. That is because the overall perception is that “the Dempster” is horrible from beginning to end. And that is not true. There are bad sections, very bad sections and the “not that bad” sections with maybe a couple of “hey, pretty good” sections thrown in.
Road Name: Klondike Highway from Dawson City
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: Pretty good
Road Name: The Dempster Highway
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: Well-graded gravel road with minimal washboard, but plenty of potholes, very muddy after a rain
Miles Today: 83 (includes a drive back to town from our campground for gas)
Driving Time: 2 hours
Total Miles in Canada: 2217
Total Miles since entering Canada: 4405
After arriving at our campground, we had to clean up our car, the Coquí, which was covered in mud and rocks. Fortunately, we had covered the windshield with a tarp, which helped just a little bit. Our collection of mud-covered rags keeps growing.
We were excited to have made it and eager to explore but since we left kind of late in the day and drove very slowly, it was pretty late. But we had just enough time to take a short walk on one of the campground’s trails, get settled, have dinner, and get some rest.
We had thought that it might be tough to find scenery that rivaled Denali. But this place changed our mind. The colors in the tundra were dramatic, and they were not even at their peak!
The vegetation mix at different elevations was all pretty low to the ground but very varied and all beautiful. Hector once again was crawling around.
There is a specific caribou herd, the Porcupine Herd, that passes through this area during their migration north in the spring and also during their migration south in the late fall. I had hoped that our timing would coincide with the migration but unfortunately, we were way too early. It must be an amazing sight.
Back at the campground, we checked out the Visitor Center and saw lots of birds flying around including some raptors. This area is known for birds in particular but they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.
When we headed back out, we did get a close-up view of some willow ptarmigan, still wearing their summer colors.
As we walked on the tundra by Two Moose Lake, we realized that we were surrounded by the ptarmigan, who were perfectly camouflaged against the tundra when they stood still. If we concentrated, we could make them out all around us.
Ponds of various sizes dot the landscape.