Drive Across the Top of the World
The Top of the World Highway was built in 1955 and connects Dawson City to Alaska. Open from May to September, this partially paved road takes the adventurous driver high along mountain ridges, making for spectacular views in all directions. The drive is especially beautiful in fall! Stop in at the Visitor Information Center before you leave and pick up one of their handy milepost guides.
Begin this epic drive by taking the George Black Ferry across the Yukon River; about 5 kilometers up the road, there’s a great spot to pull off and look back over Dawson City and the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. A little further along, at kilometer 14, there’s a rest stop with a short walking trail to a viewpoint of the Yukon River, and some interpretive signage.
At kilometer 56, you’ll find a natural rock outcropping referred to as Castle Rock. This geologic landmark was created by erosion, and if you’re up for it, it’s a great place to stop for photos and explore! Watch for wildflowers, plus cranberries and blueberries in the fall!
Just past Castle Rock, at kilometer 59, is the Clinton Creek Road. This road once led to an asbestos mine, active in the 1960’s and 70’s, now abandoned. However, if you’re looking for a unique, off-grid experience, you can book a night or two at the Clinton Creek Hideaway, a wilderness retreat with a bunkhouse and private cabins.
The Clinton Creek Road will also give you access to the historic Forty Mile town site. Located at the confluence of the Yukon and Forty Mile rivers, this site has been used by generations of First Nations families to hunt caribou and fish for arctic grayling.
A gold discovery in 1886 lead to an influx of settlers to the area, and Yukon’s first town was established there soon after. There was also a North West Mounted Police fort and a trading post across the river from the town site. Forty Mile was largely abandoned when the gold strike on Bonanza Creek brought hopeful prospectors to what is now Dawson City. Today, the site is protected under the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Final Agreement and the Historic Resources Act, and is jointly managed by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Yukon governments. You’ll find a public campground there, plus a cemetery and 18 buildings remaining from the settlement. You can view an excellent and detailed guide here.
Both the Clinton Creek Road and the road into Forty Mile are unpaved and can be quite rough, especially in times of heavy rain, but for travelers who like to get off the beaten track, this side trip is not to be missed!
The Top of the World Highway reaches its summit around kilometer 104, with an elevation of 1,376 meters, or 4,515 feet. Be sure to stop here to take in the beautiful, panoramic view!
Just past this viewpoint, you’ll reach the Canada/U.S. border. The customs station is open from 9 am to 9 pm PST, from May to September, and is closed in winter.
The Top of the World Highway is a drive not to be missed, whether you just want to see the highlights or you wish to travel on to Alaska! Make sure to check local travel restrictions before planning your trip.