Our North American Road trip has taken us down some pretty stunning roads, The 101 up the West Coast, The Alaska Highway, and of course The Klondike Highway but nothing could have prepared us for our last “road trip” adventure on our trek North to Alaska.
Top Of The World Highway
The Top of The World Highway connects Dawson City, Yukon to Alaska, via a 79-mile gravel and dirt road.
An adventure across the Top Of The World starts in Dawson City, Yukon- a quick ride on the George Black Ferry across the might Yukon River will bring you to West Dawson, a small sub-community of the larger town across the river. Instead of traveling through the mountains like most roads, Yukon Highway #9 also known as Top Of The World, traverses across the mountain tops, providing miles and miles of uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountains, and the breathtaking Alaska Range in the distance.
When driving the Top Of The World Highway there were three things we were told to look out for:
Opening Date- Top of The World Highway is open May thru September, conditions dependent. We checked in with the folks at the Yukon Visitor’s Center in Whitehorse to make sure the road was open before committing to our trip North to Dawson City.
Poker Creek Border Crossing- This is the most Northern International Border in the US, and one heck of a way to make an entrance into Alaska. The Border is open May- September 8am-8pm and 9am-9pm Yukon time. If you’re traveling in the early spring or late fall its critical you call ahead and make sure the border is open, the highway and the border office do not always share the same opening and closing dates, assuming they’re both open without confirming it could lead to a really bad day.
Travelers Tip- it’s easy to forget that you are crossing international borders when jumping the line into Alaska. Remember to make sure you have all your paperwork on hand and passports ready just like you would any other border crossing.
Road Conditions- We warned that road conditions on the Top of the World Highway can change rapidly and that the best way to know what they’re like at any given time is to talk to someone who had recently driven it. We had incredible driving conditions when we made the trek across the Top of The World, but we have heard our fair share of nightmare stories, and after having driven can easily see how potholes, washboard surfaces, and rain can make this road incredibly dangerous. With little to no road shoulders, zero guard rails, and steep drops this is not a place you want to mess around with. During certain times of the year its possible you may not see another vehicle for the entirety of your drive- exactly what happened to us. There’s no cell signal, no emergency services close by, in short, if something goes wrong it’s up to you to get yourself out of it.
Our Best Advice If You’re Planning To Drive Across The Top Of The World
Go Slow- The Top of The World Highway is an elevated road with long sweeping views of the Yukon and the Alaska Range. It’s beautiful, and with literally dozens of pullouts along the way, you’d have to be crazy or in a really big rush to not stop every now and then and take it all in.
Pick Your Travel Time Carefully- Both Alaska and Northern Canada, have breathtaking scenery, and insanely dynamic landscapes that change dramatically depending on the time of year. We chose to make our trip across the Top of the World in the early spring, and while it was still incredibly beautiful, but after seeing photos of this drive lit up with fall colors, there is a part of us that will always wonder how it might have been different if we had chosen to take this route on our way out of Alaska instead of into it.
Just getting to Alaska was an adventure, but now the real fun starts, stick around for the rest of our Alaska Wild series, we’re diving into all the adventures Alaska has to offer!