Glennallen, AK to Haines Junction, YT (Aug. 22, 2015)

This travelogue report covers my journey on Saturday, August 22nd, from Glennallen, Alaska along the Richardson Highway (AK-4) for 14 miles, the Tok Cutoff Highway (AK-1) for 123 miles, and Alaska Highway (AK-2) for 292 miles to Haines Junction, Yukon. Most of the way, the sky was overcast and at times threatening to rain.

The following map shows my route for this day’s total distance of 429 miles / 690 km.

My route from Glennallen, AK to Haines Junction, YT

My route from Glennallen, AK to Haines Junction, YT

Following an excellent breakfast at 7:15 AM AKDT of coffee, eggs, bacon and two large waffles, I departed the Antler’s Rest B&B in Glennallen at 8:50. The first thing to do was refuel at the gas station at the junction of Glenn Highway and Richardson Highway. The station was again moderately busy, mostly with just motor homes, but I was able to refuel after only a brief wait.

As I headed north from Glennallen, I was seeing some snow-capped peaks in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park along the east side of the highway. Although the low-hanging clouds unfortunately blocked my view of the mountain peaks, I tried taking a few photos and can share at least this one view from the junction of the Richardson and Tok Cut Highways, southeast across the Copper River, and showing as much as possible of Mount Drum (El: 12,010 ft 3,660m).


For comparison, this next photo shows what Mount Drum looked like on a clear day in  1974 from a location near Glennallen.

Mount Drum s

As is in much of Alaska, the terrain is mostly wilderness, apart from a rare settlement or some scattered houses. This next photo shows what kind of scenery I saw much of the way along the Tok Cutoff Highway.


Nearly an hour later, I came upon some more interesting scenery along with the fall colors of numerous trees. Unfortunately some water droplets landed on the camera lens.

IMG_4065sAt 11:10 AM, I finally reached the village of Tok at the junction of Tok Cutoff Highway and the Alaska Highway. I stopped for about 40 minutes to refuel and refresh. While eating a prepackaged sandwich from the convenience store, I chatted with a local for a bit.

Nearly 11 miles east of Tok, I came to the bridge over the Tanana River and took these next photos of the views.

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Just past that river, I spotted a mileage sign. Only 285 more miles / 459 km to my stop for the night.


A short distance further along, the brightly colored hillside ahead caught my eye due to the various fall colors.


Ten miles / 16 km beyond the turnoff for Taylor Highway (AK-5) to Chicken, where I had been earlier, this next photo shows a view of Midway Lake.


At 1:10 PM AKDT, 2:10 PM PDT, I crossed into Canada. The actual customs station is 18 miles / 29 km further, just before reaching the village of Beaver Creek. Since there was not much traffic, it took me less than two minutes to clear customs.

At some point past Beaver Creek, I came to an extended road construction zone. Thankfully I was able to pass waiting motor homes to make good time along the muddy and rough road, standing on the foot-pegs most of the way. Again I was very thankful to have off-road tires on my motorcycle. I encountered other motorcyclists heading toward Alaska, some of them slowly negotiating through the muddy sections and around the potholes on their regular street bikes. Due to the light rain, I kept my camera inside my jacket and unfortunately took no photo of that section of the road.

About 94 miles /151 km after entering Canada, this next photo shows the view ahead towards the southeast. This was taken just seven miles / 11 km past the Donjek River. Finally a tease of some blue sky ahead…


… although not for long. Only two minutes later more clouds.


30 miles / 48 km further, I approached Burwash Landing on the shore of the huge Kluane Lake, which is bordered to the south by high mountains in the Kluane National Park and Reserve. This next panoramic photo shows the scenic view of the mountain range.


This next photo shows a telescopic view of a snow-capped peak in that range.


Alongside the highway, I noticed an apparent memorial and grave marker and snapped this photo as I passed by.


This next photo shows a view across Kluane Lake. Since the lake is nearly 50 miles / 81 km in length, it’s not feasible to capture all of it in one photo from the highway.


Near Destruction Bay, I took this photo of the apparently still open Destruction Bay RV Lodge with very few customers. According to their Facebook page, it closed for the season just a few days later.


As I crested a rise in the road and looked ahead, I saw this view of the southern end of Kluane Lake.


As I rounded the southern end of the lake, I took this photo towards the tall island, while crossing a bridge over the glacial stream that feeds the lake from Kaskawulsh Glacier. The weather definitely looked threatening, but I skirted around it and didn’t encounter anything more than a sprinkle.


Here’s a clearer photo of that island in the lake. I have been unable to find its name.


As I passed by a rain cell a short distance east of Kluane Lake, a rainbow appeared and I was able to capture a photo of it. A good omen, it would seem…


Almost immediately after leaving the rainbow behind, the weather cleared up somewhat for the remaining distance to Haines Junction and the Sun cast some shadows again.

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Shortly before 6 PM PDT, I arrived at Shawn Taylor’s home in Haines Junction, where he rents rooms as a B&B. I had made my reservation in advance through AirBnB for $66 for the one night. Here’s a view of the back of the house as shown on his AirBnB page.

Shawn Taylor - Log Home - Haines Jct

Shawn works for the Yukon environmental agency and is very much into the lifestyle of that region, including hunting. Just a few days earlier, he had picked up some caribou sausage from a butcher and shared some of it with me. A really nice fellow!

After my stay, I posted the following review for him on AirBnB:

“Shawn greeted me warmly as soon as I knocked on the door. As the custom also in Alaska, he asked that I remove my motorcycle boots before entering the house. After bringing in my luggage, Shawn invited me to a couple beers with a snack of some delicious sausage from a caribou that he and a buddy had harvested. What a special treat! The home is really nice and attractive with very good appliances. As mentioned in his description, the house is still somewhat rustic, such as bare, unfinished flooring, no window shades, and the beds lying directly on the floor rather than elevated on frames. Even so, the mattress was very comfortable, although more difficult to get up from. The missing window shades were not a problem during my visit, but could become an issue earlier in the summer with more daylight hours. I would look forward to visiting Shawn again and to welcome him into my home in Florida when he looks for a break from winter darkness.”

Although I didn’t take any photos of the outside of the home, I did take several inside the next morning before departing. Here are two views on the main floor.

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For dinner that evening, Shawn recommended a nearby Chinese restaurant within walking distance. Although not great food there, it was certainly good enough.

That concludes this travelogue report for August 22nd. The next day I continued eastward through Whitehorse to the Cassiar Highway (BC-37) and south to Dease Lake, BC. After leaving Whitehorse, I essentially doubled back on nearly my entire route from Washington to Alaska. More about that next day’s journey in my next report.


About Don

I'm a retired computer programmer who enjoys touring the country by motorcycle.
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