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18 January 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound, Part 27. Southern Lakes Region - Dip in to Atlin BC and Carcross YK


Atlin BC and Carcross YK, This is The Southern Lakes Region.


MV Tarahne on the shore of Lake Atlin
MV Tarahne on the shore of Lake Atlin
Road to Atlin
Road to Atlin

Little Atlin Lake
Little Atlin Lake

Atlin Lake and Birch Mountain.
Atlin Lake and Birch Mountain.
The Southern lakes region includes Atlin, Carcross, Marsh Lake, Mount Lorne, Tagish and Teslin and is located in the southern Yukon and in Northern British Columbia.




It is the 16th of July 2014 and we are on the road at 7 am, driving east on the Alaska Highway all the way to Jackes Corner.




From Jakes Corner we take Highway #8 for just a bit then turn off on highway #7 south towards Atlin.




The road is mostly paved, but has still some gravel sections.




The road hugs Little Atlin Lake, then likewise Atlin Lake. It really is a very beautiful drive.




We hoped to see some wild animals, but no such luck until we drove back home, we saw a cow moose.




Just south of the northern tip of Atlin Lake we enter in to British Columbia again.




Panorama of Atlin Lake
Panorama of Atlin Lake
A coffee and goodie at the Atlin Inn
A coffee and goodie at the Atlin Inn

Float planes coming and going.
Float planes coming and going.

Anders and Liz on the shores of Atlin Lake, BC
Anders and Liz on the shores of Atlin Lake, BC
Soon we reach the little town of Atlin. We right away stop at the Atlin Inn, to have a cup of coffee and a goodie.


We relax and enjoy the view over the lake, so pristine.



Prior to the 1950 construction of the Atlin Road by the Canadian Army, Atlin was reached overland by two lake steamers, the Tutshi and Tarahne. Tarahne now sits on a dry dock here in the town.




Atlin is another gold rush, boom and bust town. Atlin was founded as a result of  demand for gold mining in the area.




The Atlin gold rush came about in 1898 and was one of the richest offshoots of the Klondike Gold Rush.




By the end of the mining season of 1899, around 5,000 people had flocked to the region and Atlin became a busy and important settlement.








Beautiful setting right on the lake
Beautiful setting right on the lake

Lots of old buildings
Lots of old buildings

Some really old buildings. If these walls could talk!
Some really old buildings. If these walls could talk!

Anders taking a walk on the water front.
A walk on the water front.

Liz really thought the theater was very well done. Still active.
Liz really thought the theater was very well done. Still active.
Although production was greater in its early years, the Atlin field still produces today. Total placer gold production has exceeded $23,000,000 since the beginning.



Today, there are still about four mines in operation in the area, but sadly all the businesses look in need of customers and money.



Atlin gets its name from Áa Tlein, the Tlingit language word for "big body of water". The surrounding area has been used by Inland Tlingit people for many years.



The community just south of  Atlin is home to the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.



Just a few days before our visit, Atlin was rocking with its annual music festival weekend. We think everybody here is recuperating from all the commotion that comes with a festival like that.



The scenery in Atlin is unbelievably spectacular. The mountains across the lake with the still active Atlin Mountain Rock Glacier look immense.



Birch Mountain is 6,135 feet is on Teresa Island in Atlin Lake.



Float planes come and go as we watch. We take a guided tour around town by a museum employee, great! The Art gallery is also the court house, very cool.



On the shores of Atlin sits an old 1920 Lake Boat, the MV Tarahne. MV Tarahne used to run on Atlin Lake, before the Atlin road was built, very interesting.



Later, we stop in at the General Store / Bakery and after an hours wait we get some fresh Cinnamon Buns. Talk about fresh, hot, sticky, aromatic, yummy, and did I say sticky, wow, so good.



We now drive north, still licking my fingers, and stop at a nice rest stop and have a little nap. With the fresh air and the sound of the wind through the forest, it does not take long to snooze away.

Liz driving towards Carcross
Liz driving towards Carcross.

Anders with ice cream in hand in front of the SS Tutshi Memorial
Anders with ice cream in hand in front of the SS Tutshi Memorial

Liz having a rest in front of a storage cabin.
Liz having a rest in front of a storage cabin.

An old cabin on the shore of Lake Bennette

Sandy water being brought in Lake Bennette from Watson River
Sandy waters being brought into Lake Bennett from Watson River

Liz taking in the sights.
Liz taking in the sights.

Carcross Desert - Not really a desert.
Carcross Desert - Not really a desert.

Carcross Desert - Not really a desert.
Carcross Desert

Liz at the Carcross Desert
Liz at the Carcross Desert

Dramatic sky for our ride home.
Dramatic sky on our ride home.

The road back to Whitehorse.
The road back to Whitehorse.
Reaching highway #8 again we decide to drive the longer way back to camp. The road leads us to the town of Carcross.



Carcross, originally known as Caribou Crossing, is an unincorporated community and is located on the shores of Bennett Lake and Nares Lake.



It is home to the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.



In 1904, Caribou Crossing was renamed Carcross as a result of some mail mix-ups with the Cariboo Regional District in nearby British Columbia.



Carcross or Caribou Crossing was a fishing and hunting camp for the Inland Tlingit and Tagish people.



Many Native artifacts have been found here, some dating back 4,500 years.



The name Caribou Crossing was named after the migration of huge numbers of caribou across the natural land bridge between Lake Bennett and Nares Lake.



The local caribou herd was almost hunted and killed out during the Klondike Gold Rush. Fortunately there is now a recovery program and the number of animals is in the rising to around 450.



Today Carcross is an active tourist town, with the White Pass Train coming and going over the White Pass to Skagway.



Facing south-west on Bennett Lake there are several beach houses.



Until 1983 these beach houses were considered squatters. Now they are titled; however, a few still look like a squatters' cabins.



Carcross Desert, located outside Carcross is often referred to as the smallest desert in the world.



The Carcross Desert measures approximately 1 square mile or 2.6 km² totalling 640 acres.



The Carcross Desert is commonly referred to as a desert, however it is actually a series of northern sand dunes.



The climate is too humid to be considered a true desert. The sand here was formed during the last glacial period.



This is when large glacial lakes formed and deposited a bunch of silt.



Later when the lakes dried up, the dunes were left behind. Today, the sand comes mainly from nearby Bennett Lake, carried by wind.



In 1992 the Yukon government tried to protect Carcross Desert.



This attempt failed due to opposition from local people who use the dunes for recreational purposes.



The Carcross Desert is much drier than the surrounding area. It receives less than 50 mm of rain per year. This is because it lays in the rain shadow of the surrounding mountains.



Because of this much drier climate the dunes contain a wide variety of plants, including unusual varieties such as Baikal sedge and Yukon Lupine.



The Baikal sedge or Carex sabulosa is only known to exist in four other sites in North America but mostly in Asia.



After walking the shores of Bennett Lake we stop in at the tourist office and chat with Elke, a super nice lady who gives us tons of more information.



After a Pralines and Cream ice cream from a nearby shop, I'm at the wheel again with sticky fingers ... Driving under the influence of sticky fingers, hmm!



What a great day.



More pictures on our on line photo album.




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