The Alaska Highway – THe Drive of a Lifetime

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Alaska HighwayThe Alaska Highway, stretching more than 2,200 kilometres (almost 1,400 miles) from Dawson Creek, B.C., to Delta Junction, Alaska, has challenged road trip enthusiasts for decades.Much of the allure of the iconic route — the construction of which was in part prompted by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December I941, and took only nine months to complete — is the varied landscape it passes through, which features everything from farmland and forests to lakes and snow-capped mountains. But there are other equally enjoyable diversions along the way. Here are some of the best, running south to north.

Dawson Creek, B.C.

As the gateway to the Alaska Highway — so-called Mile 0 — this town of 11,000 has plenty to offer, including the Dawson Creek Art Gallery, housed in a converted grain elevator, and the Alaska Highway House, an interpretive centre that presents all the gritty details of the highways construction.

The Honey Place, Fort St. John, B.C.

Touted as the world’s largest glass beehive, The Honey Place, located at Mile 42, is sure to keep the kids bug-eyed. The family-run business, which is the largest supplier of bee pollen in Canada, started around 50 years ago and has been attracting visitors ever since. Three hives open like giant books, revealing the hundreds of thousands of bees inside.

Pink Mountain Provincial Park, B.C.

At Mile 143, the name of this peak comes from the blossoming pink fireweed that blankets its sides in late summer. But the star attractions are the myriad Arctic butterflies, including the Arctic Sulphur, Yukon Arctic and Philip’s Arctic species, whose southernmost range falls within the park’s boundaries, attracting butterfly enthusiasts from around the globe. This is also one of the last places left in British Columbia to catch a glimpse of plains bison roaming their natural habitat.

Summit Lake and Stone Mountain, B.C.

Mile 392 marks the location of Summit Lake, the highest point along the highway at more than 1,280 metres. The lake is home to a variety of fish, including rainbow and lake trout, making it a perfect spot for anglers. Nearby Stone Mountain is a great place to stretch your legs on a scenic hiking trail or camp overnight, and the alpine meadows are sure to be a hit with photographers.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park B.C.

Take a dip in Canada’s second-largest hot springs at Mile 475. Water temperatures range from 42°C to 52°C, warm enough to relax muscles aching from the long drive. Stroll along the boardwalk through the warm water swamps and watch for moose grazing in the shallows. The hot springs are open year-round.

Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake, Y.T.

Spend a few hours browsing through the thousands of road signs — at last count in 2008 there were more than 65,000 — in the Sign Post Forest. Started in 1942 by a U.S. Army G.I., the collection has grown every year as tourists add to the array. The town erects more posts as needed and visitors can pitch in through the Adopt-A-Post program.

Braeburn Lodge, Y.T.

Ok, so it’s not technically on the Alaska Highway, but your stomach will thank you for making the jaunt up to this log cabin-style roadhouse at Mile 55 on the Klondike Highway. What’s on the menu? Giant cinnamon buns, about the size of a large dinner plate, baked fresh every day. Think of it as fuel for the rest of your road trip.

Delta Junction, Alaska

The Alaska Highway ends at Mile 1422, where the road you’ve been travelling meets the Richardson Highway. Delta Junction offers all the usual amenities and has plenty of sights to finish off the drive, including the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum and Rika’s Roadhouse, both remnants of the gold rush era.