alaska highway wildlife

Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor

Yukon Road Trip 2020 – Part 2 of 7

Fort Nelson, BC to Watson Lake, Yukon road trip provided us some of the best wildlife sightings in Canada

 Alaska Highway Wildlife – Wildlife sightings, in our minds, is one of the highlights of any road trip when exploring Canada. We think the amazing scenery, which accompanies every wildlife sighting, plays a big part in the adrenaline rush one feels when connecting with wildlife.

Alaska Highway Wildlife Sightseeing Best in Canada

We have traveled every major highway in Canada. And we have traveled a very high percentage of secondary highways in Canada. Not to mention the thousands on thousands of kilometres exploring gravel roads. However, when it comes to road tripping, highways and wildlife sightings there is no better highway than the Alaska Highway

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Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor

The Alaska Highway stretches ‎2,232 kilometres (1,387 mi). It starts at Mile “0” in  Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada and the finish line is in Delta Junction, Alaska, USA. This iconic highway includes a good portion of road tripping exploring the Yukon Territory here in Canada.  This part of our journey shares with you our adventures and wildlife sightings as we drive the 513 kilometre section of the Alaska Highway from Fort Nelson, BC, Canada to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. We call this section of highway the Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor.

alaska highway wildlife sightseeing

Yukon 2.0 – This Ain’t Our First Rodeo

This is our second road trip exploring this route on our way to the Arctic Circle. Yukon 2.0, as we refer to it, has many different elements to it on this go around. To sum it up – Covid 19. Our base camp is in British Columbia so according to travel restrictions set out by the Government our destination options were limited. However, good news is, we seek out destinations with no crowds. Yes, remote scenery, wilderness environments and adventure activities are our thing. 

alaska highway pull out

Pull out sightseeing on the Alaska Highway

Ready, Set, Go

So based on our options available to us we set out north to the Arctic Circle. No crowds there. Plus, we would have the opportunity to enjoy amazing drop dead beautiful wilderness scenery and hang out with nature and its wildlife residents. Sounds perfect to us. Sign us up. All of this too, while staying safe and enjoying the hospitality of the Maple Leaf Bomber (RV).  All we had to do was buckle in, enjoy the ride and turn on our wildlife radar. Sadly, there was little to no traffic on this popular road tripping route which just goes to show the impact of Covid19 on tourism in our northern communities.  

Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor Plan

From Fort Nelson BC we started at sunrise. We were both too eager to sleep away our adventure. We knew from previous expeditions that this section of the highway ahead of us was special. If our memory served us right, and it did, wildlife sightings would be a plenty.  As well as… the two pit-stops, two road side pull-outs, two bathroom breaks on this part of our journey –  Summit Lake and Muncho Lake Provincial Park – we did not want to miss and were our must-stop destinations on this leg of our adventure. 

Wildlife Radar

But first we had to get there.  We pointed the Maple Leaf Bomber in the right direction and pressed go! When we road trip, Colin and I, keep score on wildlife sightings. We call our game “Wildlife Radar”. I think one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is the banter and laughter between us as we play. However, another positive outcome of this game is that “Wildlife Radar” enables me to really focus on our beautiful surroundings and all its colors, and  shapes. So much so, I have seen things many people may have missed. Appreciating the outdoors and the wonders of nature goes a long way when playing “Wildlife Radar”. 

Look A Black Bear!

About 1 hour out of Fort Nelson, BC on the Alaska Highway I spotted a black bear! The game was on. I could tell it jump started the both of us into high alert. You could see it in our eyes. Colin and I were leaning in,  zooming in on the details of the surrounding scenery. The banter came to a complete stop. It was just silence and scenery now. The silence continued for some time and slowly, with no sightings, the banter began to pick up again. Life was good. 

Rules of the Game

We continued on our journey bantering back-and-forth about the rules of “Wildlife Radar”. Crows do not count. Too many of them. Farm animals do not count. Domesticated. Caribou are worth 10 points. Moose are worth 5 points? Bears are worth 3 points. So many questions? Then it happened. Stone Mountain Provincial Park scenery appeared as we turned a corner. Wow! Stunning! Colin points out his window at the beautiful mountain range. I look his way to check out the mountains. Then I hear him shout out “Caribou!”

Caribou Sightings on Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor

I turn around and there they were – two beautiful caribou in the middle of the road. And according to 10 minutes ago Caribou are now worth 10 points! Ugh! Wildlife Radar score 23 Colin vs. 20 Greg.  As the banter continued back and forth. Me looking at Colin and Colin keeping his eye on the road, guess what happened? “Caribou!”. Again Colin spots some more Caribou. Wildlife Radar score 33 Colin vs. 20 Greg. Another 10 points. Distraction! I soon became to realize Colin was pretty good at distracting me while he is driving scanning the landscape for wildlife. This meant war now. The point spread was getting out of reach. Less talking and more wildlife spotting is what I needed.

summitt lake on alaska highway

Colin and I at Summit Lake

Summit Lake Provincial Park

Summit Lake in the Stone Mountain Provincial Park is an aqua/green coloured lake surrounded by half green, half stone mountains. There is a day use area in the Summit Lake Campground right off the highway. We pulled in. This was our stop.

On this day the winds were a gusting. On the return trip the skies were blue. You just never know in the north? We parked the Maple Leaf Bomber. All bundled up, we escaped the warmth of the RV and ventured out into the elements. So much fresh air. The scenery was like therapy. I felt all the stress of every day life escaping. 

Muncho Lake Provincial Park

We continued our journey along the Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor. We took turns spotting Bald Eagles and hawks. We looked over here and then looked over there. Neither of us wanting to miss a thing. The scenery was hypnotic. Or was it the isolation, the freedom which put us under a trance. None the less, the sight of Muncho Lake Provincial Park snapped us right back into reality. What a gorgeous lake and again with the scenery. Mother Nature had her game on in this part of our country.

autmn colors on Alaska Highway

Autumn Colors on the Alaska Highway

Changing of the Seasons

Make note, that along this section of the Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor, there are plenty of pull-outs, pit stops and washroom breaks. Take my advice and take your time, use one, two or three of these pull outs and enjoy the view. 

As the Maple Leaf RV rolled along the Alaska Highway, we really started to notice that Autumn in the north had arrived. The forests lining the highway went from green to yellow, orange and red in a blink of an eye. We started our journey in Summer and now we time-machined into the Fall. It was a beautiful trip through time and seasons.

Buffalo Herd Sighting

One of the highlights of the Alaska Highway Wildlife corridor is the opportunity to see a free range buffalo herd. For you newbies, that would mean a herd of Wood Bison that are free to roam the province and territory as they see fit.  Some bison grow to 1000 lbs.  So they do not move if you hit them. Go slow because Bison will relax and sit on the highway. Bison will crowd the highway. They do not move for vehicles. The Laird River Bison Herd was here first. Remember that as you drive. And as it so happens, it was just around Laird River area, we spotted the herd walking along the highway. 

Bison vs Bison

Along the Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor on the way back from the Arctic Circle we encountered the herd of buffalo again. However, on this section of our journey we also spotted the 2 bulls expelled from the herd. From what we learned from the locals this is how it plays out. A male bison challenges the leader of the herd. The loser of the battle of the bison is thrown out of the herd to live the rest of his life in solitude. We spotted 2 lone Wood Bison on our return trip.  Sad to see, but nature can be tough and cruel. 

Mountain Sheep Family Sighting

On our return trip from the Arctic Circle on this same section of the Alaska Highway Wildlife corridor we also came across a family of Mountain Sheep near the summit in Muncho Lake Provincial Park. Amazing! The little guy was so cute and Mom and Dad were really protective too always putting themselves in between the baby and the highway. Understandable. We stopped at the pull out and sat and watched as the Mountain Sheep family of four munched away on some vegetation. The Papa sheep just looked at us as if he was trying to stare us down into submission. 

alaska highway caribouCan you say 10 Points!

On the same return trip we came in touch with 2 more “Caribou”. This time I spotted them walking down the highway. They appeared from nowhere as we turned a blind corner on the highway. Before we knew it, there they were. Luckily we were not going fast.

We kept our distance. We were observing in awe. Throughout this section of the Alaska Highway we saw bears, mountain sheep, eagles, caribou, moose, grizzly and more. The photos only captured a few of the wildlife sightings as by the time we powered up the cameras the wildlife dashed into the forest and was out of sight.  The “Wildlife Radar” score was 43 Colin vs. 23 Greg. Ouch! 

Covid 19 Check Point

We approached the British Columbia / Yukon Territory border leaving the Alaska Highway Wildlife Corridor behind us. Once in the Yukon Territory and just before we entered the small town of Watson Lake, Yukon we did a first for us. We went through a Covid19 Check Point. It felt weird. According to travel restrictions only Yukon, NWT and BC residents can enter the region. We just happen to be from BC. Once we got to the Covid19 booth, we were asked some questions about where we have been and where we are going. All was well. We passed.

Yukon Territory Reading Materials

As we were about to pull off, one of the officers took notice of the Maple Leaf RV. How could you not? Well, because of the Canada thing we push out in red and white, we were now talking travel with the check point people. Before we knew it, we had an armful of travel booklets and maps all about the Yukon, Whitehorse, Dawson City and the Dempster Highway. Thank you.  Yup… the Yukon awaits! It was official!

Small Town Hardships

Not to finish on a sad note but it needs to be said. We asked about internet availability? We were told that Watson Lake Library was closed. The information centre was closed and that was our best bet for internet. As we rolled through Watson Lake, there was plenty more closed and boarded up. Sad to see.

There was no good internet to be found. It left us no choice. We have to have internet at least at the end of each day. Our business depends on it. It was 4 PM. Little choices left. A decision was made. We buckled in. Filled up at the only gas station open and off we went to Whitehorse, Yukon. However, on the way back from the Arctic Circle, with better daylight, we planned to stop at the famous Sign Post Forest. That story will be our next blog – Yukon Road Trip Part 3 of 7.

Wildlife Sightings on the Alaska Highway

Yukon Road Trip 2020 – Part 2 of 7

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Greg Girard - eh Canada Travel - Community Consultant

Co Founder at eh Canada Travel ? Top Global Travel Blogger / Tourism Strategist

Greg Girard is a co founding brother of the award winning adventure and travel website and blog ehCanadaTravel.com. Greg is also a top ranked Canadian travel blogger who enjoys public speaking, and working with small and rural Canadian communities. Greg is an avid outdoor enthusiasts and amateur photographer who enjoys hiking, backpacking, wilderness camping, mountain biking, road tripping, snowboarding and attempting to play golf.

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