Leg # 5

Yukon Highway 2 "The Klondike Loop":  Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon

July 3rd to July 7th


Day # Date Description Link
27 July 3rd Whitehorse to Twin Lakes Campground, YT
28 July 4th Twin Lakes to Moose Creek Campground, YT
29 July 5th Moose Creek to Yukon River Campground, YT
30 July 6th Yukon River Campground to Dawson City, YT
31 July 7th Dawson City, YT


July 3rd - Whitehorse to Twin Lakes Campground, YT        [top of page]


Today was a nice drive in the country, but nothing along the way that was especially photogenic.  However, the lake was teaming with bird activity.  The photos are in bird-type order.  After spending much of the afternoon photographing them, I retreated to the coach to process the photos and ID the birds.  After a while I began to wonder if someone was trying to tell me something:

bulletCommon Tern - at first I thought it was an Arctic Tern
bulletBonaparte's Gull - the first 2 ID's I came to were both extremely rare, but wrong
bulletLesser Yellowlegs Sandpiper - naturally, it wouldn't be the Greater  . . .
bulletCommon Loon

At first, I thought this was an Arctic Tern, but after comparing the photos with the details in the books, we determined that it's a Common Tern.  The Tern flies about 20-30 feet above the water while intently looking down for a fish.  Once spotted, he hovers a moment and then plunges for the catch.

The next bird faked me out even more so.  Since he was fishing along the same strip of lake shoreline, I initially assumed that he was another tern, but his flight pattern was much closer to the surface.  Then he landed on the water and continued fishing from the surface.  It was then that I noticed that he was a different species.  CJ guessed correctly that he was a gull; an idea that I scoffed at.  Since he turned out to be a Bonaparte's Gull, I got to eat some crow even though we haven't seen any of those since we left home. 

When I first spotted the Bonaparte's Gull, he was flying just over the surface and skimming the water with his beak.  Why?  I haven't a clue.

The Bonaparte's Gull technique is very interesting and a challenge to photograph.  He stares down into the water from his floating position and when he spots his target, he jumps up out of the water and dives so quickly that I only got one photo of him with his wings partially raised for the jump. 

One of the first photos of the Bonaparte's Gull skimming the lake surface



A handful of images of the Bonaparte's Gull starting into the water.



Action shots of the Bonaparte's Gull


The next bird to get my attention was this sandpiper.  After studying our Silbey's book as well as the "Guide to the Birds of Alaska" we decided he's a Lesser Yellowlegs Sandpiper.

Magpies are part of the Corvid family (Jays, Crows, Ravens)

Very smart and very striking to watch

After the Magpie left, there were only seagulls to photograph.  Since I knew that there are many types of seagulls, I knew I'd have to get some good photos to get a proper ID.


A classis seagull photo.


I called this pair of gulls "Klondike Tree Gulls"  Some of the locals thought that was a great name for them. 

I've been trying to work on my ability to capture birds in flight.  If you saw the bazillion blurry photos I've got, you'd know that I've got a long way to go yet.  But, sometimes there's something interesting in the photo.  I saw something surface several hundred yards across the lake that the nearby gull didn't like.  At first I thought it might be a beaver, but in the photo you can see that it's a Loon.  Luckily for me, the Loon worked a course that brought him quite a bit closer.

Which brings us to the Common Loon





After all of those bird photos, I thought you might like to see our campsite on the hill overlooking the lake.

Pretty nice for $12/night, eh?


Twin Lakes at Sunset - 12:33 AM


July 4th - Twin Lakes to Moose Creek Campground, YT        [top of page]

This is Five Fingers Rapids, an especially dangerous section of the river.  Sane folks portaged around the rapids, but not every was sane in those days, either.  Small boats were best suited to running the rapids, but . . .

Large stern wheels were also known to run the rapids, as this vintage photo shows.  Not all of them made it.


Our campsite in the forest at Moose Creek.


Getting the fire ready to cook a couple of juicy steaks.  The parks in the Northwest Territories have free firewood for the campers.


That Class C motorhome down the service road was the only RV visible from our campsite.  Nice, eh?


July 5th - Moose Creek to Yukon River Campground, YT        [top of page]

We spotted this broken down Toyota 4Runner on the side of the road shortly after leaving Moose Creek campground.  The Toyota was much closer to the highway on this small service road, but we got him further back so we could get our rig off the highway for obvious safety reasons.  The owner of the Toyota turned out to be a "Crown Attorney" who'd traveled to Mayo, YT for a trial.  He had his mother and two sons with him.

 The serpentine belt had broken and we were unable to effect repairs on scene, so we packed up the family into our truck and took them to Dawson City with us.  Of course, it took 20 minutes to convert the back seat of the truck back into a regular seat.  We're getting ready to pull out in this photo.

Many of the sites of former forest fires have signs like this one indicating which year the fire burned.  This is all these trees have grown in 56  years due to the short growing season.


Both Dawson City and the Dempster Highway are drawing near.


The folks with the broken Toyota treated us to lunch and then we headed across the Yukon River to the campground on the other side.  This image shows the George Black ferry making way into the river current.  Note that the water from the bow wave splashes up through the joint  between the hull and ramp.

Unlike the other ferry operators we've experienced who finesse the landings, this guy gets close and rams the boat ashore.  At least the approach isn't very challenging compared to those earlier in the Northwest Territories.

The Yukon River Campground is only about 100 yards from the ferry terminal. 

The main drive through the Yukon River Campground.


Our campsite.  Spacious, private, just 30 feet from the river and hardly any mosquitoes.  All for just $12/night. 


Another view of our campground and our nearest neighbors.



An expeditionary Land Rover stayed a few sites away.


The Klondike Spirit is a modern sidewheeler tour boat that runs out of Dawson.  These photos were taken from the bank at our campsite.

A close=up of the sidewheel.

Critter tracks (about 1" across)


Nesting site of the resident Peregrine Falcons on the cliffs about 1/2 mile away across the river.  Taken with my D90 & Sigma 150-500mm + 2X teleconverter.


July 6th - Yukon River Campground to Dawson City, YT        [top of page]

The Dawson City seaplane taking off behind our campsite.

This is what a campsite looks like after brushing Gracie.

OK, the truth is that a local plant sheds this stuff.  Even Gracie doesn't shed this much.


The Land Rover that camped near us waits in line for the ferry to Dawson.


The motor home in front of us in line at the ferry had an interesting license plate.

Another European minivan conversion.  This one is a Fiat diesel.  Note the child in the window.  There's a family in there, not just a couple.


The ferry approaches to pick us up & take us to Dawson.

The Yukon version of a NAPA Auto Parts Store/auto repair shop/gas station. 


A couple of interesting RVs modified to serve as permanent home.  The one on the right was particularly cute.

Our campsite at Gold Rush RV Campground is a bit tight compared to what we've been enjoying in the Territorial parks.  What we'll put up with to get Internet access so we can share this trip with you!!  Note how close our patio awning is to the Raptor 5th-wheel next to us.  The other side of our coach actually overlaps the electrical service pole on the other side. 

Another view of the campground.  Gracie is standing in front of the truck.  Yes, it's just as crowed as it looks.

July 7th - Dawson City, YT        [top of page]

We started out today with a walk into town 4 blocks away.  Here's one of the homes along the way.


The first stop was the Yukon Visitor Center.



Not only is this visitor centre particularly well stocked with information, the staff wears period dress.


C. J. finds this display so tragic.  The story is in the next photo.

The story of the locked Moose antlers.

One corner of the visitor center is a collection of memorabilia set up to look like an old general store.


The bulletin board outside the Yukon Visitor Centre had a rather interesting want ad.


The Northwest Territories maintains a nice little visitor center across the street from the Yukon Visitor Centre.


The white board outside the NWT Visitor Center gives a synopsis of the road report.

The complete road report is posted inside.

The staff made a point of telling us that towing a trailer on the Dempster Highway to Inuvik is NOT recommended. 

Time will tell if our preparations were adequate.

Front Street in downtown Dawson.  The river boat is a fascinating museum, where the docents where period dress.

An active theater

One of the shops on a side street

One of the more popular restaurants.

Another side street.  Note that none of the streets in Dawson are paved and all of the sidewalks--where there are sidewalks--are wooden.

A small house

The Masonic Temple bellies a grander time in the history of Dawson.


C. J. takes a closer look at a rather run down & eclectic house.

Knitting with dogs in an RV can be a challenge.