Dawson Creek is the launching pad for the Alaska Hwy. While it may not be somewhere you’d otherwise stop, it’s almost impossible to avoid a night here whether you’re approaching from Edmonton and the east or from Prince George (409km to Dawson Creek) on the scenically more uplifting John Hart Highway (Hwy-97). The route from Prince George leads you out of BC’s upland interior to the so-called Peace River country, a region that belongs in look and spirit to the Albertan prairies.
The best part of the Alaska Hwy – a distance of about 1500km – winds through northern BC from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon; only 320km of the highway is actually in Alaska. Don’t be fooled by the string of villages emblazoned across the area’s maps – only Fort Nelson and a dip in the Fort Liard Hot Springs are worth stopping for; the rest are no more than a garage, a store and perhaps a motel. Watson Lake, on the Yukon border, is the largest of these lesser spots, and also marks the junction of the Alaska and Stewart-Cassiar highways. It’s vital to book ahead for accommodation if travelling this stretch in July or August.
You need to adapt to a different notion of distance on a 2500km drive: points of interest on the Alaska Hwy are a long way apart, and pleasure comes in broad changes in scenery, the sighting of a solitary moose, or in the passing excitement of a lonely bar.