Sunday, 3 July 2016

Golden Circle - the Ultimate Yukon-Alaska road trip

We had one of the most breathtakingly scenic vacations in our lives when we did the ultimate road trip - the Golden Circle Route covering the Yukon and Alaska in 10 days in June.  We were doubly lucky in having clear skies for the duration of the trip (it drizzled the day we left Whitehorse!) and the longest days of the year just before the summer solstice (no worries about it getting dark when hiking or driving!).  It meant also that we won't get a chance to see magnificent sunsets, never mind the northern lights - but one can't have everything.

We picked up our car in Whitehorse and spent most of the day driving the 180 km to Skagway - a distance that could easily have been covered in a couple of hours because of the excellent road conditions.  But no first time visitor could do that - the scenery just wouldn't allow for it.  Other than the designated stops at Emerald Lake and Carcross, we must have stopped more than a dozen times to gasp and gawk at the stunning viewpoints along the way - unfettered magnificence!  It wasn't until late afternoon that we arrived at Skagway where we spent the night - an anticlimax after such an exciting drive.

This post is mainly about the spectacle along that 180 km stretch of highway, the first segment of the Golden Circle.  I'll let the images speak for themselves.

The first stop was just 30 minutes out of Whitehorse - the appropriately named Emerald Lake - stunning!

Another 10 km and we arrived at the Carcross dunes -  the impressive wind-sculpted dunes are actually the remains of an old lake bottom - a fun place to spend a few hours, hiking the dunes, or riding on dune buggies.  Carcross is a very small town, the end of the White Pass Summit Railway.  It consists of a few shops, a cafe selling sandwiches and amazingly, a public library!  We had our picnic lunch on the shores of the beautiful Lake Bennet (below).

This curious little prairie dog made its home just outside the public library.

Nares Lake along the South Klondike HIghway

The South Klondike Highway

This could have been Middle Earth!

A waterfall that came all the way down from the icefields

Finally, Skagway, on the coast, but still surrounded by mountains.  What a day!

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