The starting point of our Dempster Highway journey
Dawson city or Dawson is a small historic town by the Yukon river, Canada. It used to be a thriving capital city of Yukon territory before the city of Whitehorse during the Gold rush times. If you are driving from south, there are two ways to reach Dawson. One is the Klondike Highway (Hwy 2), a completely paved road from Whitehorse till Dawson. The other one is the Robert Campbell highway (Hwy 4) which starts from Watson Lake eliminating the need to cross through Whitehorse, and eventually connecting to Hwy 2 near Carmacks. Hwy 4 is mostly a gravel road with much fewer traffic flow. Unfortunately, this highway was closed due to the wild fires. So, we had to take the Klondike highway.
You will reach the Dempster highway junction first – about 25 miles even before reaching Dawson city. But it is advisable to visit the NWT Information center at Dawson City to get information on the highway and status of 2 ferries (Yes! you need to take ferries to reach Tuk).
Dawson City – Yukon town
When we entered the town it was a cloudy evening. The visitor center was closed for the day. So we crossed the Yukon river via the free ferry (runs 24 hrs) and stayed at Yukon river campground for the night. All Yukon campgrounds are well maintained and sites are private just the way we like. You have to self register by paying $12 CAD at the designated booths inside the campground. Since it was a cold rainy night, we couldnt have a camp fire. The following morning, we drove in to the city again. The surrounding mountains, moving clouds and fog made the streets look more spectacular. We could see many RVs parked and tourists buzzing in the streets between the visitor centers (one is for NorthWest Territories and another for Yukon), museums, Interpretive center and stores.
We were actually in Dawson city to leave our trailer at some safe campground, get information from visitor center and head to the Dempster. To our bad luck, the notice board outside the Visitor center read that the Peel river ferry was closed due to high water. Peel river ferry is one of the two ferries you need to cross in order to reach all the way up north to Arctic Ocean. The official in the visitor center din’t really know when the ferry will open again. We were really disappointed. This is the second hurdle we had so far in our trip. First one being the wild fires at Watson lake. Somehow, our guts told us to take a chance. So we did!
There is a fairly inexpensive RV park to leave the trailer before heading on Dempster. It is actually unknown and is listed only on Campedium website. It is called the ‘Offroad RV Park’. the whole area seemed like a work site with many vehicles parked, trucks moving in and out. The owner lives on one side of the plot. He lets the travelers camp in his huge property for $10 a night(no services). We informed the owner about our plan and he agreed to look after our trailer for the next four days.
Midnight Dome View point
Its a must see view point if you visit Dawson. From this viewpoint you can see the whole town with the river, valley and mountains from a higher elevation. Night view of the Dawson must be really be fantastic from here. But we had no time to stay. So, we visited this view point during the day.
The restaurants here seemed to be overly priced for us. Good thing is that they have the menu displayed on the entrance door. So, lets us decide before getting inside. We ended up dining in a Chinese restaurant called “Gold village Chinese” that had reasonably priced menu. Their food was really good to our surprise. We requested to add extra spiciness to our order and the chef made it right. Since we were in a hurry, we totally forgot to take picture of this place and food.
- Get your Dempster highway souvenir here. No other place in Dempster had any.
- Dont miss Midnight dome Viewpoint. At night if possible.
I am sure there are many more interesting attractions in this town. We had very little time here than we had initially planned. So had to skip few from our list. One among it is Gold mining experience. We will definitely try to spend more time here next time. Do share with us if you have any recommendations for us that is worth to visit in this town.