Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dawson City, Yukon - Top of the World Highway - Chicken, Alaska

We travelled Top of the World Hwy from Dawson City, Yukon to Chicken, Alaska

We had driven 1550 km, which is almost a thousand miles on dirt roads for our return trip from Dawson City, Yukon to Inuvik, NWT.  We had covered the Dempster Highway and we are now on the road to Alaska.  There are four border crossings into Alaska but two highways which will take you to Alaska from the Yukon, the Alaska Highway and the Top of the World Highway.  We are going to follow the latter one, the road less travelled and visit Chicken, Alaska.

Ferry on Yukon River

We depart from Dawson City, Yukon by ferry crossing the Yukon River.  It is a free and short crossing but takes time due to the size of the ferry, there are not many on here with us when we have our trucks pulling RV’s so it took two crossings to get our group across.
Top of the World Highway view
The Top of the World Highway runs from Dawson City, Yukon to the Alaska border, elevation about 1100 meters (3600 ft.).  It began as an old gold mining pack trail from Dawson City until the 1930’s when it was extended to Alaska and the Taylor Highway.   Top of the World Highway name fits and offers views that go on for miles across the countryside.  The road is a mostly gravel road but once we crossed into Alaska, we drove on a newly paved road for about 10 miles.  What a treat that was!

Caribou of Alaska
At this point of our travels, we had not seen the wildlife we’d expected to see and had not seen any caribou, at all but thanks to a great ‘spotter’ in the group, we finally got our chance.  We watched a herd of them, way up on the mountainside, which made photo taking a challenge but at least we saw some caribou!  It was great to add them to our short list of wildlife sightings!

Prospecting for gold
These incredible views were distracting but if we looked closely, we would see some activity down on the river in the valley.  We saw several small gold prospecting operations on our travels.  They are still digging for gold in Alaska.  The rivers would often have some equipment set up and a small camp nearby.  I doubt these are personal claims with this size of equipment being used but they were nothing very large. 

Chicken, Alaska
The large majority of visitors to Alaska come by air or cruise ships.  A very small amount come by vehicle and even less than that would take the Top of the World Highway but it is well worth the views and experience to take this route.  We were nearing Chicken and there was no lack of signs on this section of road to tell us that.  

Chicken  mascot
We have arrived!  There are a couple of parks for RV’ing but the first one we saw had a welcome look to it and we made our overnight stop there.  We are here at the height of their tourist season, which means there could be a population of more than 30 people.  Winter population is about 15, according to local records.

Downtown Chicken
This is downtown Chicken!  The name Chicken was actually an alternative to Ptarmigan, as that was the chicken-like bird that most of the gold mining original settlers ate and they referred to as ‘chickens’.  They weren’t sure how to spell ptarmigan, so chose to name it Chicken instead.

Chicken Creek Cafe
As one often finds in pubs of small communities, there can be hats or ties or money that is left behind as a marker for one’s visit.  In this pub, although I did not take a real close look, there are several pieces of personal underwear left to hang, as well.  I do believe this might be an idea that Chicken can claim as their own.  It definitely can be a topic of conversation while visiting the pub.

Chicken Liquor Store
This is the smallest liquor store we’ve ever seen but it did have the right supplies.  Chicken closes down in winter as there are no ploughs till April so no road access.  The mail is delivered by plane twice a week, weather permitting.  There is no telephone service, no cell service and no flushing toilets in Chicken.  This Chicken experience will take some people back in time.  It worked perfectly for us, we were here for a good time, not a long time.

We were now moving on, click here for the next adventure.


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