Chicken Alaska to Dawson City

We have been going back through our old blog site that was taken down several years ago and we found that some of the posts might be interesting for people to see. We traveled to Alaska in 2010 and hope to do it again in the future. Here is the first post from that old blog. The cameras were not as refined back then, but the pictures and videos are still interesting to see.

While we were planning our trip to Alaska we kept hearing about Chicken, Alaska and the road from Chicken Alaska to Dawson City called Top of the World Highway. It was a must see! we were very fortunate in our timing. The road had washed out just a few weeks before we arrived in Chicken. It was reopened just the day before we arrived, but only passable by convoy.

Everything in Chicken has to do with chickens. In fact if you don’t go to chicken you’re considered chicken.

Chicken Alaska

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chicken-1-8The bar on the top of the hill in Chicken shot off a black powder canon every so often when things got rowdy. The guys in the bar would try to get the women to donate their underwear, then they would stuff them in the canon, fire it off ( a VERY loud boom!!) and then everyone would run out pick up the underwear and hats etc and take them back into the bar and staple them to the walls and ceilings. The famous saying in Chicken is “what happens in Chicken stays in Chicken”. This was definitely a fun place!!

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The caravan out of Chicken Alaska to Dawson City on the Top of the World Highway the next morning was beyond spectacular. It’s a part of our Alaska adventure that we will never forget. The washouts and deep culverts that closed the road for a couple of months were amazing. They definitely had experienced a LOT of rain in a just a few days to do that much damage.

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Chicken Alaska to Dawson City

The road from Chicken to Dawson City called the Top of the World Highway is a 127-kilometre (79 mi) long highway, beginning at a junction with the Taylor Highway near Jack Wade, Alaska and traveling east to the end at the ferry in Dawson City, Yukon.  The highway is so named because, along much of its length, it skirts the crest of the hills, allowing views down into the valleys. It is also one of the most northerly highways in the world at those latitudes. The views along the way are spectacular.

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When we were there in 2010 most of the road was gravel, but as of July 2014, the US portion of the highway is paved, and most of the Canadian portion is unpaved. It is a fine highway to travel if you are not in a hurry and want to see the unparalleled views. The feeling that you get is that actually are on top of the world and you are the only people on the planet. It really feels like it is an isolated adventure, but there are plenty of people traveling so that if you have problems you are not totally alone.

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We stopped for a bit at Boundary Roadhouse which is one of the oldest roadhouses in Alaska. It is a sod-roofed cabin that was built in the 1920’s, along the trail to a mining camp. Business was good for a while, but like a lot of little Alaskan mining towns, it died. When we visited there was a small store with coffee and ice cream, but that is apparently gone now. All that is left is a patch of ruins.

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The Little Gold/Poker Creek border crossing from the Alaska to Canada is the most northern international border crossing in all of North America. It is isolated and only open certain hours, so be sure to check their schedule.

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At the end of the highway we began to see Dawson City located along the Yukon River in the distance.

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We knew we had to cross the river by ferry and hoped that the ferry was large enough to accommodate our 40 foot rig. We had been a bit nervous about it our whole drive.

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Is it going to fit?

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As it turned out, we took up most of the deck space on the barge.

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Back to civilization. Dawson City was smaller than we expected, but we enjoyed the night there and took in a show at Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall.

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Dawson City was high on our list of places to visit because it is where Robert Service wrote much of his Yukon verse and poetry about the gold miners (stampeeders) including The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew. These are two of my (Dick) all time favorite poems. These are poems that are meant to be read out loud, not read silently.

”There are strange things done in the midnight sun
by the men who moil for gold,
The arctic trails have their secret tails
that would make your blood run cold.
The Northern lights have seen queer sights
but the queerest they ever did see,
was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee!”

If you haven’t read Robert Service you are missing out on the works of a great American writer!

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We headed south from Dawson City and spent a night camping on Lake Lebarge…. which is actually a part of the Yukon River. The pictures will give you a good idea of what Lake Lebarge looks like. What a treat it was to camp on the lake of one of my favorite Robert Service poems!!

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Watch our video of this trip. It was taken with old technology, but can still give you an idea of what the road was all about.

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