We visited Haines Junction twice: once on our way to Alaska and once on our way home. The first visit, after camping in Pine Lake campground was refreshing and low key. The Village Bakery had delicious treats and good vibes and we filled up on both gas and so much information at the excellent Kluane National Park Visitor's Center. The second time we stopped through Haines Junction, in late July, we could not find parking for the car-trailer combo or a table at the Bakery and nearly got stuck in the mud. Woah.
|Relief of Mount Logan, the 2nd tallest mountain in North America.|
Kluane National Park is the largest internationally protected area on Earth and contains the 2nd and 3rd tallest mountains in the US and Canada, has the largest non-polar icefield in the world and just a few glaciers, like 2,000. The Park is 80% icefields and glaciers, 10% boreal forest, and 7% alpine (that's not under snow?). Glaciers can surge up to a mile a year, but we knew this from Glacier Bay National Park because a surging glacier chased out the Tlingit people 300 years ago.
|Kluane Lake: Dry Lake Bed|
Just North of Haines Junction, enormous Kluane Lake is around 150 square miles and shrinking. Shrinking because the Kaskawulsh Glacier, which fed the former Slims River which used to feed Kluane Lake, has melted so much that the drainage shifted to another river and the Slims River is no more. Weird glacier stuff that you only know if you're surrounded by 2,000 of them. Or, if you stop at the tiny, remote visitor's center at the bottom (South end) of Kluane Lake. At this visitor's center they also have hiking, an outhouse, information and a viewing platform for dall sheep which we, unfortunately, did not see.
|Stopped at Thechàl Dhâl Visitor Center and Sheep Mountain |
By the way, Slims River is purported to be named after a pack horse that couldn't make it across that raging beast that was/is/was Slims River and fed Kluane Lake back in the early 1900s. Rivers in Alaska and the Yukon are no joke and more like what we call lakes in Colorado: wide, fast, sometimes deep and and turbulent.
|Donjek River just North of Kluane Lake|
About the midpoint of Kluane Lake on the Alaska Highway there is an RV resort that looked amazing. We could have camped on a grassy knoll right next to Kluane lake and explored the shore in our boats. Alas, we did not. This lovely RV park was not quite far enough on our way to mainland Alaska and it was too far on our way back home so we never got to stay at Cottonwood RV Park in Destruction Bay.
We did, however, stop at Burwash Landing to gas up and spend some time at the Kluane Museum of History. Here we learned even more about the animals, flora, fauna and history of the area. Tucker learned that a pack of wolves will eat a wolverine. Kris would like a musk ox cloak for the winter. Amy enjoyed the video on the construction of the Alaska Highway. Kenedy thought the loon was beautiful and loved the shiny rocks. We also bought and mailed postcards with pictures of glaciers and big mountains and places that we never thought we would visit-but here we are...So, guess what, we drove to the Yukon. In fact, we're here right now. Can you believe it?! Miss you. Love, the J-Bs
|Walking path and the ubiquitous fireweed along the Alaska Highway in Burwash Landing|
We may have missed Cottonwood RV Park but, knowing Snag Junction (our other camping option) was closed due to wildfires, we found Discovery Yukon instead. The bathrooms were new, clean and private and the showers were luxurious and hot. The grassy campsites were flat, clean and surrounded with trees, manicured flowerpots and a gurgling pond. Laundry was broken so they did it for us for $10CAD. We were in heaven!...
|Campsite at Discovery Yukon|
...for a bit, and then bugs and rain descended, and the satellite wifi was so slow and Kris needed to work and this was the day our airbnb guests checked so we really needed that connectivity. But we still had craft brews from Haines Brewery and, really, we were so lucky to be in this lovely, developed campground in such an exotic, remote place; so comfortable with some connectivity, great showers and clean, new bathrooms.
|View from Discovery Yukon: Wrangell-St Elias National Park lies beyond|
So we happily came back to Discovery Yukon on our way home and stayed in the same campsite with the same hot showers, clean bathrooms and beautiful views.
Status of the Alaska Highway so far: fine to Burwash, potholes, rollers and some gravel beyond.