Still a Frontier Town

When we first pulled in to Dawson City on Tuesday, June 22nd, we drove past an airport with scheduled air service and a helicopter sightseeing operation.  Well, we figured, there goes the last of the frontier.

A quick drive down the main drag of Dawson relieved our fears, however.  The town still looked pretty much like we remembered it from the early 1980's.  Thanks to the tourism folks, the dirt streets and boardwalks were still there.  The gas station where we fueled up before we took the ferry across the Yukon was still there.  But television, cell phones, the internet and satellite TV have all elbowed their way into the community.

Speaking of tourism, when we were here before, we considered driving up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, north of the Arctic Circle.  We were discouraged from making the trip by the locals, who said the road, which had just been completed a couple of years earlier, was in poor condition and that the Inuvik locals were not real friendly.  Now there is a Dempster Highway information center in Dawson, complete with photo murals and videos, and staffed by Inuvik natives inviting us to "come on up."

We re-visited the gold fields and the old mining dredge which is up on Bonanza Creek.  When we were here previously, the dredge had sunk with limited access to the interior.  In the early 1990's the dredge was re-floated, moved about a quarter mile, restored and opened for tours.  It is operated by Parks Canada and is now a national landmark.

The ferry across the Yukon has changed a bit since we were here before, but not much.  The old ferry was just a barge with a diesel engine on it.  The new one is a bit fancier, but not much bigger.  It will hold two RV's or one semi.  Given the width of the river and the rapid current, the ferry makes kind of an "S" manuever as it crosses the river, fighting the current and working to line up to "dock" on the opposite shore. 

We'll be heading across the river on Friday morning, IF the wildfires haven't blocked the highway.  As of Thursday afternoon, there were a number of fires burning around Alaska and in the Yukon, several of which could interfere with our schedule.  We've been getting a lot of smoke in Dawson, actually beginning with our drive out of Whitehorse.

We'll try to keep our posts updated as our travel plans become more clear.


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Gravel Road

The road between Whitehorse and Dawson was mostly paved, with about 30 miles of gravel in a construction area.

Dawson From Above

Roughly the same viewpoint we visited 23 years ago.

Klondike River

Klondike River water is clear, while the Yukon is quite muddy.

Downtown Dawson

Same boardwalks and dirt streets as 23 years ago.

Dawson Campground

Another "compact" campsite.

Panning for Gold

Sue brushes up on her technique.

Gold Dredge Number Four

When we were here before the dredge was buried up to the rust line in mud.

How It Worked

Guided dredge tours explained how this four-story monster separated gold from gravel.

Ferry to Alaska

Our "ride" across the Yukon to the "Top of the World" highway. The haze is from numerous wildfires in Alaska and the Yukon.

Edge of the Tundra

On Thursday, we took a side trip about 50 miles north up the Dempster highway to the beginning of the tundra.

Tombstone Mountain

Sue checks out an area of glacier-like ice in a river valley along the Dempster.


The territorial flower of the Yukon, although the spikes are not in their full glory yet.