Tombstone Territorial Park

tombstone 28We 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.

tombstone 2Fortunately, 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.

tombstone 1tombstone 6Alaska Day driving day 12 recap:

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

The signs are a little scary

The signs are a little scary

tombstone 7After 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.tombstone 27

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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.tombstone 16

Early the next morning we set out to explore further. Our initial exploration was a drive to the area just north of the campground.tombstone 22tombstone 20

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!

tombstone 26tombstone 19We were awestruck by the spectacular scenery. Once again we found ourselves in a wild place with valleys and rivers and lakes and ponds and mountains galore.

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.

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tombstone 15tombstone 36We watched some resident caribou running across the road, they were going pretty fast so Hector just caught a couple of photos. We do love to watch them run.

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.

tombstone 38Back 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.tombstone 39tombstone 37

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.

tombstone 41Tombstone Park is a place of dramatic vistas.  A new one after every bend it seemed.tombstone 30tombstone 29tombstone 50

tombstone 43tombstone 31tombstone 34tombstone 33There were miles and miles of tundra in all directions, all beginning to turn bright colors.

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tombstone 54Hector got to use his wide angle a lot 🙂tombstone 25tombstone 51tombstone 56

Ponds of various sizes dot the landscape.

tombstone 40tombstone 49tombstone 48tombstone 47tombstone 57One evening we were treated to a cloudy and mysterious sunset. That night the rains returned, so we took a rest day before our big day outing to the Arctic Circle.

~ Brendatombstone 24

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  1. Thanks to your adventurous spirit , Hector and Brenda , you shared with us what we won’t be seeing in our lifetime. This is a big WOW! Breathtaking! The place is worth the mud and the apprehensions of getting there.

  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful adventure! I missed my chance to go up the Dempster in 1989 when I was living in my little Subaru wagon; I was too chicken (or wise?) to do it alone & couldn’t find anyone in Dawson or Whitehorse who wanted to share the ride. Oh well, maybe some day. But this post is the next best thing! Looking forward to your trip to the Arctic Circle; another bucket list item!

    • Thank you! I would not drive up there alone either. Hope you do get to see it for real someday, but glad you enjoyed it in the post.

  3. Nice landscape shots once again, Hector! Guess if my Prius is actually fixed by rhe weekend, I’ll have to go back up the Top of the World and see if the color there matches your shots, since it’s probably too late to catch any bears in Hyder anyhow.

    • Bob, we are headed to Hyder and will probably take two days to get there, so will be there on Tuesday or Wednesday. The color should be incredible now at Tombstone!
      Brenda

  4. Long days but so much to see. I am surprised at the colors and yet the B&W pictures are so very dramatic. What an adventure!!!