Dawson City, the Dempster Highway and the Arctic Circle

There is fabulous scenery from Whitehorse to Dawson City along the Klondike Highway.  Between kilometres 564 and 664, there was significant construction.  At some points, we were off on temporary roads.  Motorhomes are not meant for off-roading.  About 5 kilometres outside of Dawson, we had an inside dual tire go flat.  Thankfully, we were close to our destination.

We had booked a site at Bonanza Gold Motel & RV Park for 7 nights with the intent to leave the RV there while we did our tour up the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk.  Since we were not on a fixed schedule, we stayed the full time even though the side trip was shortened.

We had arranged for Ozzy to be kenneled at the Humane Society Dawson while we took the Dempster Highway.  The staff person there was very nice, and Ozzy had no issues staying with her.  We also had the local vet examine Oz while he was there since Oz needed some meds renewed, and we are getting more concerned about his age and hips.

We left for our trip to the Arctic Circle in the rain.  And it rained most of the day.  Our first real stop of the day was at the Tombstone Interpretive Centre in Tombstone Territorial Park.    We had heard horror stories about how bad driving the Dempster Highway was, so we were surprised to find the 70 kilometres to the Centre is the roughest.

There are no restaurants or gas stations until kilometre 369, so we had brought along a packed lunch which we ate at a roadside pullout.

Another stop was at kilometre 259 to view the panoramic Ogilvie Ridge.

At kilometre 369, we continued past our hotel to the signpost for the Arctic Circle at kilometre 405.  I admit that we were pretty pleased with ourselves to have made it all the way to the Arctic Circle.

We headed to the Eagle Plains Hotel after our photo op.  Different signs and publications refer to it as hotel, motel, or lodge, so I’m not really sure what its proper name is.  It’s the only place to stay, so it doesn’t really matter.  The hotel is “vintage”, clean and has friendly staff.  Our room for the night had two comfy double beds, satellite TV and decent water pressure in the shower.  We had dinner in the lounge and breakfast in the restaurant.  Both meals were hearty and tasty.

Our trip back to Dawson was shorter than the drive up as we made fewer stops.  We were back early enough to pick Ozzy up at the Humane Society, where he had been given his own room rather than just a kennel.  He is so spoiled!  The vet had been in and given him the thumbs up.

While we were in Dawson, we visited a few of the local tourist attractions.  We had inadvertently booked ourselves in over the Discovery Day weekend, so we were able to partake in a few of those activities as well.  Discovery Day celebrates the start of the gold rush in the Yukon. 

The downtown area streets are unpaved and Dawson is preserving its historic feel as much as possible.  Old storefronts mingle with new.  Old signs and new signs are intermixed.  There are also several murals and storefronts that hold old-time displays.  We spent part of one day just walking the downtown streets.

The summit of the Midnight Dome was one of our favourite spots.  It’s a five-kilometre drive up a gravel road, including a drive past several old cemeteries.  The summit gives you a 360-degree view of the Dawson City area.  One couple told us they picked up a pizza in town and had an alfresco meal at the top; what a great idea!

During the summer, there is a weekly Saturday farmers’ market in the park near downtown.  Because it was the Discovery Day weekend, that market was supplemented by an artists’ market.  There were also some activities for kids and a blacksmith doing a demonstration.

I loved the parade put on for Discovery Day.  The community enthusiasm was apparent in the locally crafted floats.  The volunteer firefighters were having loads of fun with the sirens on their various fire trucks.

I really wanted to see the Cancan show put on at the local casino, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall.  Usually, the show is Friday and Saturday night, but it was also on Sunday night because it was a long weekend.  I figured Sunday would not be as busy, so we went Sunday night.  We arrived about an hour early and stood in line.  People in line around us told us that it is not unusual to wait in line for two hours to get in.  After an hour in line and with only about 10 people left in line ahead of us, we were told that they had reached capacity and it would be close to an hour before they consider letting anyone else in.  Darn! No Cancan show for us!

C

We also visited the two grocery stores in town – Dawson City General Store and Bonanza Market.  I was impressed with the amount and variety of products both stores offered.  Bonanza Market was recommended to us for fresh meat purchases.

Before we left town, we visited Chief Isaac Mechanical to have the tire repaired.  It turned out that it was a leaking tire valve extension, so the repair was quick and inexpensive.

Check back to read about our visits to Whitehorse, the Yukon’s capital.

Travel safe!

Vanessa

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