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Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska

Sunday, June 10, 2007

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After spending about two weeks in the Yukon Territory we are finally leaving the Yukon and moving onto Alaska. We have really enjoyed the Yukon, especially Keno and Dawson City, and are glad we took the time to ‘enjoy our journey’ to Alaska, instead of just driving to Alaska as quickly as possible. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to take our time traveling.

We are taking the Top of the World Highway to the U.S. border and then the Taylor Highway to Chicken, Alaska today. In order to get to the Top of the World Hwy we need to take a ferry across the Yukon River. We make a short stop at the Dawson City Museum before getting to the ferry crossing and waiting 30-45 minutes for our turn to cross on the ferry. As we wait we watch a large oil tanker come across on the ferry – the tanker must be full and it is the only vehicle on the ferry. As the ferry travels with the oil tanker, it appears to be carried fairly far downstream (the river is high and running swiftly). I start to wonder if the ferry is going to be able to make it over to our side. But eventually the ferry regains control and gets to our side. After seeing this, Joe appears nervous about us going on the ferry. The ferry ride is uneventful (but interesting) and we start our trip on the Top of the World Highway.
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The road follows the top of a mountain ridge for about 90 miles. Parts of it are paved, but many parts are gravel, so we take it slow. It’s an overcast day, so the views are nice, but not as incredible as some of the views we’ve seen the last few weeks.
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View from the highest point on the Top of the World Highway of the U.S. border:
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We get to the U.S. border, show our passports and take off on the Taylor Highway.
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This ‘highway’ is DIRT. We expected dirt, but this is not the nice dirt roads of the Yukon. This is U.S. ‘full of potholes’ dirt. To make things worse, we have sporadic showers. So now the dirt road is a muddy road with potholes. The road is definitely worse than we expected. We drive 15-25 mph and are glad to get to Chicken, where we will spend the night.
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We choose a campground that is back off the road and actually has electric from 8am to 8pm. The town has no electric power or plumbing, so they use generators and supposedly have no flush toilets in the town. I didn’t see any flush toilets, but I find it hard to believe that people live here year-round and have not found a way to have flush toilets.

We have dinner and then walk around Chicken.
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The campground we’re at has an old gold mining dredge to look at and then of course there are the requisite gift shops. We visit all 3 gift shops, buy Jack London’s Call of the Wild book (Jere wouldn’t let me buy it in Dawson City – he said it would be cheaper in the U.S.) and then return to the RV for a campfire.
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The campground provides free firewood, so I quickly make a campfire and sit by the fireside and read a book. The one great thing about the sun being out til after midnight is that you can easily read a book by the campfire :-) And then of course – S’mores before bed.

Posted by jengelman 13:51 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel

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We traveled this highway in July 1999 and apparantly nothing has changed, even down to the detail of a big tanker truck loaded alone on the ferry causing the ferry to lose momentum at the Yukon River crossing near Dawson City. However, it's a not to be missed drive if you have the time, and you can use it as an alternative (albeit longer) route back to Whitehorse.

by RdRivrFred

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