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South Klondike Highway

(Yukon Hwy 2, BC Hwy 2 & Alaska Route 98)

Gateway to the Yukon: Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon
180 km, 112 miles

Northern Highways - Alaska, the Yukon & northern British Columbia

South Klondike Highway Links

    Although the South Klondike Highway was not opened completely until 1978, this is one of the oldest access routes from the Alaska coast to the interior. The Tlingit people had used the White Pass as a trading route far back into the mists of time, and when gold was discovered in the Klondike in 1896, it and the Chilkoot Pass, just to the west, became the main trails for the mad rush to the goldfields.

A White Pass & Yukon Route steam locomotive leaving Carcross on an excursion to the ghost town of Bennett, at the end of the Chilkoot Trail.     Where our ancestors struggled over the passes with heavy packs full of trade goods or prospecting supplies, you can now travel in comfort on a paved, all-weather highway.

    The historic community of Skagway can keep most people busy for a couple of days - dozens of shops with Alaska souvenirs and local arts and crafts vie for your attention, there are several museums and historic sites, and some great hiking trails head up the mountains away from the hustle and bustle.

    Although the entire journey from Skagway to Whitehorse is only 180 kilometers (112 miles), this is a trip that shouldn't be rushed - there is a lot to see. Some of the highlights that you will see:

  • the White Pass & Yukon Route railway - take the train up to the amazing White Pass summit, on to Fraser, BC, or even to Lake Bennett.

  • the unique construction of the William Moore Bridge allows it to cross an active earthquake fault without being damaged.

  • the mining ruins from the Windy Arm Silver Rush of 1905-1906.

  • the beauty of the huge Southern Lakes chain, headwaters of the Yukon River.

  • the Bove Island viewpoint is a must-stop for photographers.

  • the village of Carcross, home to both the oldest operating store in the Yukon, and the oldest operating hotel.

  • the Carcross Dunes, often called "The World's Smallest Desert", is home to some very rare plant species.

  • aptly-named Emerald Lake is undoubtedly the most-photographed lake in the Yukon.

  • Robinson Roadhouse, though derelict, offers another glimpse at the lives of the territory's pioneers.
The South Klondike Highway crosses White Pass Summit - 3,292 feet. There is still lots of snow in May.     As the photo to the left shows, summer arrives late in the White Pass - it was taken in late May.

    If you are arriving at Whitehorse with an RV caravan, going to Skagway makes a great day trip. Chartering a motorcoach for the group avoids having to drive your rig back up the steep and winding White Pass Summit section of the highway.

    If you have questions about the South Klondike Highway or any other routes, check the links below, or post your question on the Yukon Forum at TripAdvisor.

South Klondike Highway Links

South Klondike Photo Gallery
Over 60 photos taken along the highway in all seasons.

Murray's Guide
This 30-page mile-by-mile guide with almost 50 photos by Murray Lundberg shows the highway, the scenery and other attractions. It costs $5. to download but is updated several times each year.

When Does the Ice Leave Emerald Lake?
One of the questions that comes up fairly regularly is whether or not the wonderful colours of Emerald Lake are visible early in the season.

Building the Skagway-Dawson Road
First promised in 1898, this highway joining the Alaskan coast with the Yukon interior finally became a reality 83 years later.

A guide to the community's history, attractions and services.

A comprehensive guide to the community, from accommodations to history, tours and weather.

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad
A comprehensive guide to the railroad that is so visible along the southern section of the highway.

Windy Arm Mines
This extract from the book Fractured Veins & Broken Dreams gives some background on the mining ruins seen along the Windy Arm section of the highway.

Klondike Highway, 1972
A large map and information from a 1972 Yukon tourism publication. At this time the highway only ran from Carcross to Dawson City.

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