Burwash Landing, Yukon - June 2014
Jun 23, 2014
|We had decided to head for Dawson Creek, the Top of the World Hwy and Chicken to Tok, Alaska. All the stories we have heard about how bad portions of the road is and then other stories about how it was not so bad, had us in a quandary. Well, we decided that this is what we were here for and wanted to see these famous places. This morning we stopped to get gas here at the Pioneer RV Park. A fella pulled in and as the conversation went on he said not to go by way of Dawson Creek. It had been raining and the road was a mess! We check with the campground office and they confirmed that the road was indeed really bad. So we stayed on the Alaska Hwy 1 and headed for Haines Junction instead of cutting northeast to Dawson City.
While traveling from Whitehorse we stopped at Haines Junction to visit the Da Ku Cultural Centre and Yukon Visitor Center. The cultural center has the most spectacular collection of First Nations artifacts. They are kept in individual cases in a special temperature controlled room. Very high tech. The garments are especially worth your time for a stop.
The visitors center is very large and modern. The outside of the building has a lot of glass. It doubles as a visitors and the cultural centre. As you enter the building, just ahead is a glass sculpture of faces. Very interesting.
Haines Junction is where Haines Highway branches southwest to Haines and Skagway. The highway was built in 1943 after there completion of the Alaska Highway to connect the seaport with the interior. We will be passes through here later in the summer to visit Haines and Skagway.
We continued our journey north on the Alaska Highway with intent of visiting Destruction Bay. About 25 miles north of Haines Junction we had the luck of seeing our first Brown Bear. In Alaska, a Grizzly is called a Brown Bear. He was big and didn't seem to be bothered by the few cars traveling the highway.
Destruction Bay was one of many camps built to the supply the army during the construction of the Alaska Highway. I had not done my homework thoroughly and we discovered Destruction Bay is a postage stamp of a town about half way up the shores of Kluane Lake. A violent storm hit the town, thus it's name, that destroyed most of the buildings and the stored materials. Although there are accommodations, they were not what we were looking for so we kept on going.
We misunderstood the signage for the Cottonwood Campground located at the southern end of Kluane Lake. Thinking it was closer to Destruction Bay. We still had daylight, so we headed for the next town.
We stopped at Burwash Landing. I had wanted to stop at the Kluane Museum of Natural History anyway. This gave us a chance to check out our options for a place to stay for the night.
The Kluane Museum was very special. One of the best wildlife exhibit I have seen. A good film too. The building was a little misleading because it looked kind of small. Inside was quite a collection of wildlife and First Nations artifacts of the immediate area.
Burwash Landing is also a small village. The only RV park we could find was Dalan Campground. This was once a Yukon Government campground. Then it was run by First Nations. Today it is abandoned. The gate is open and there is no fee. We found information about this campground in the Alaska Camping book by Mike and Terri Church. So we drove in passing a number of First Nations residents. The camp site were not maintained and had not been maintained for some time. We found a clearing that was level and looked like a good spot. Someone is still putting fresh garbage bags in the trash bins. So it is not completely closed. I think the locals probably use this area.
We had a lot of fun hiking the area, exploring the deserted cabins and walking the shore of Kluane Lake. We did not see any wildlife, just moose prints.
Tomorrow we continue north to Beaver Creek and then the Alaska border.