Top of the World Highway (Hwy #9)
The Top of the World Highway (Hwy #9) is a transportation route located west of Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. The highway route connects Canada with the USA. It is a preferred route for sightseeing because it enjoys wilderness scenery, high elevations reaching 4127 feet and sees very little traffic.
The Top of the World Highway travels 106 kilometres (66 miles) on mostly, well maintained, gravel roads with some paved sections. The highway starts from the community of Dawson City, Yukon Territory Canada and ends in Alaska, USA. In Alaska the highway continues another 14 kilometres over the border where it then connects with Taylor Highway (Alaska Route #5).
The Top of the World Highway is exactly that - on top of the world. The route travels along a series of mountain ridges. Hectares of forests drop into mega valleys on the north side of the highway and on the south side of the highway the forests hide the rocky cliffs.
The Top of the World Highway begins from downtown Dawson City. On the Yukon River, at the end of the Dike Walkway, is a free ferry service transporting vehicles and people across the river. On the other side of the ferry crossing is West Dawson (Sunnydale) and "Mile 0" of the Top of the World Highway.
From Mile "0" the highway route quickly climbs to the top of the mountains and begins traveling along the ridge of the mountain ranges. Because of the soft and narrow shoulders on the highway there are very few opportunities to pull over except for designated rest stops and viewpoints.
Some of the stops and sights to look for include the Jack Wade Gold Dredge, the Cowden Gold Dredge and Forty Mile Lookout. Forty Mile Lookout is very unique and hard to miss.
Forty Mile is a mock up of a gold rush town. The lookout acts as a viewpoint, information centre and a rest stop. There are pit toilets, a message board, travel information and a viewing platform. The wooden lookout platform includes interpretive signs about the Forty Mile Caribou Herd and the eco systems of the area. However on our visit the trees had overgrown the views.
At one time during the 1930s these mountains were the home to the Forty Mile Caribou Herd. The valleys and ridges were part of their migration route when they moved back and forth between their winter and summer homes. At one time there were over 500, 000 caribou. They no longer migrate in the area?
The Top of the World Highway is often closed during the winter months to vehicle traffic and, to some that is when the highway transforms into a snowmobile route. To get from Dawson City to the Top of the World Highway during the winter months people must cross an ice bridge on the Yukon River.