Alaska Highway Fishing: The Ultimate Road Trip
Mar 4, 2020 | 14 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 14 minutes

For anyone planning a bucket list angling experience, few things can compare to a fishing road trip along the Alaska Highway. Especially if you’ve never been to this part of North America before. As the 1,400-mile highway traverses a number of incredible fishing spots, you’ll be greeted by some of the most stunning scenery your eyes will ever see. Today, we’ll show you all of these remarkable locales, and you’ll see how an Alaska Highway fishing road trip can be a life-changing adventure.

Before we start our journey, let’s get a few basic facts out of the way. You can later give these to your grandma for her next trivia quiz. 

The Alaska Highway, also known as the Alcan Highway, runs from the town of Dawson Creek in British Columbia, to Delta Junction in Alaska. It was built during World War II to connect Alaska with the rest of the States.

Constructed in 1942, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the highway’s purpose was to serve as a supply route for the troops on the Pacific front. An incredible 30,000 men and women labored tirelessly and completed the 1,400-mile highway in just nine months!

When to Go

The Alaska Highway is a very well-maintained road. However, considering that it moves through some of the harshest terrain and climate on the continent, the ride isn’t exactly smooth year round. To get the most out of your trip, we recommend setting out from late May to early September. 

You’ll notice that life around the highway conforms to this seasonality. A good portion of road-side businesses are open during this period only. More importantly, the fishing seasons are open during this time, too.

Before You Leave

There are a few things you should consider before setting out on your Alaska Highway fishing adventure. Some are related to state and local regulations, while others are just practical.

Crossing the Borders

If you’re a US citizen traveling into Canada, you’ll obviously need to have your passport. Same goes for a Canadian citizen traveling into the US. If you’re coming in from the States, you’ll also need an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), or a Trusted Traveler program card. You can learn more about crossing the border through the US Customs and Border Protection website and the Canada Border Services Agency.

A picture of the welcome sign on the Yukon Alaska border

Rules and Accommodation

You’ll be spending a lot of your fishing time in wildlife reserves and government-run parks along the Alcan. Not all of these function the same way, so reading up on park regulations would be wise.

Sometimes, you’ll want to spend the night in one of these reserves. British Columbia maintains six provincial park campgrounds along the Alcan, while Yukon has eight. Alaska runs 10 state and federal recreation sites on the highway.

If you wish to spend the night in one of the Canadian campgrounds, you’ll often need to reserve your spot in advance. The Alaskan state-run campgrounds work on a first-come, first-served basis.

The good news is that, even if you miss out on a spot, the highway is dotted with private lodges and cabins, so you won’t need to worry about spending the night out in the open. We’ll cover many of the accommodation options as we go.

Last but not least, make sure to check out the fishing regulations for British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska.

An Alaska Highway road trip can take anywhere between four days to three weeks, depending on how long you stay in one place. So, rather than giving you a day count, we divided our voyage into four distinct parts. Let’s go!

Part 1

Kicking off your fishing road trip, you’ll set out from Dawson Creek, the birthplace of the Alcan. Known as “Mile 0,” this place is where you’ll be able to learn a lot about the highway’s history. In the days before the Alcan, Dawson Creek was a sleepy little settlement of around 600 people. Almost immediately after the construction began, the town’s population ballooned to 10,000 people. Nowadays, the town has around 12,000 inhabitants.

Before you leave, make sure to snap a photo of the Mile Marker, the town’s signature landmark, and the starting point of the highway. Locals say the ritual is a good luck tradition. Dawson Creek is also your last chance to stock up on supplies before hitting the road, so make sure you have everything you need. 

Dawson Creek Mile Marker, the starting point of an Alaska Highway fishing trip

If you’re heading to Dawson Creek by car, we recommend staying the night and getting some rest before the adventure starts.

You’ve probably heard stories about the wild and untouched nature around the Alaska Highway. The stories may be true, but you wouldn’t know it right away. Setting out on the Alcan towards your first fishing spot, you’ll pass through gentle flat countryside. On your way, you’ll be passing the historic Kiskatinaw Bridge, a 76-year-old curved timber construction, located at mile marker 21.

Fort St. John – Mile 47

After about an hour’s drive, you’ll reach the first stop of your trip – Charlie Lake. Located near the town of Fort St. John, the lake is a peaceful, family-friendly spot, where you can catch good-sized Northern Pike and Walleye. Charlie Lake is also among the rare natural lakes in British Columbia where you can keep the Walleye you catch. 

Charlie Lake, one of the favorire Alaskan Highway fishing detours

If you’d prefer a little more variety to start things off, you can stop just before Fort St. John and wet your line in the Peace River. This is a great spot for Arctic Grayling, Bull and Rainbow Trout, as well as Burbot.

Alright, you’ve caught your first fish! You can grab a quick bite in town, and hit the road again. There’s a long drive ahead of you, but one well worth the effort. Your next stop is one of British Columbia’s favorite weekend spots.

Andy Bailey Regional Park – Mile 263

A four-hour drive from Fort St. John, Andy Bailey Regional Park is a beautiful boreal forest with a scenic lake at its heart. Locals often come to the secluded park to enjoy activities like fishing, canoeing, camping, picnicking, and birdwatching.

You’ll find 12 unserviced campsites here, and eight tent sites near the lake beach. There’s also a picnic area and a boat launch for non-motorized boats. Formerly known as Jackfish Lake, this place is home to its namesake as well as Northern Pike.

Depending on your schedule, you can either choose to spend the night here, or tough it out for another hour until you reach your next stop.

Fort Nelson – Mile 300

Just up the road from Andy Bailey, you’ll find the charming community of Fort Nelson. A gateway to the Northern Rocky Mountains, this town is the perfect place to spend the night before the next stage of your journey. While you’re here, make sure to visit the town’s prized attraction – the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

Alaska Highway South of Fort Nelson

Featuring a vintage car collection, as well as a number of antique hand tools and mineral samples, the museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Alaska Highway.

Part 2

The second part of your fishing road trip will take you into a wilder, untamed part of British Columbia. Entering the Northern Rockies, you’ll be introduced to some of the very best fishing locations Canada has to offer.

As the highway snakes through the beautiful Rocky Mountain foothills, you’re likely to struggle to keep your eyes on the road. The highway is narrow in this part of the Rockies, however, so drive safely. 

Tetsa River Regional Park – Mile 375

Around an hour’s drive from Fort Nelson, you’ll find the lush and captivating Tetsa River Regional Park. Boasting scenic grassy shores, the 115-acre park offers multiple access points for fishing. This is a perfect venue for fly fishing, featuring catches like Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, and Whitefish.

The park offers 25 unserviced campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re worried about missing out on an available spot, rent a nearby lodge to spend the night in. Continuing your journey will take you through Summit Pass, a 4,281′ mountain pass letting you into the heart of the Rockies. 

Toad River – Mile 411

Following Toad River from mile 411 until mile 420, the Alaska Highway gives you a stunning, uninterrupted view of the turquoise river and the surrounding mountains. There’s excellent Arctic Grayling and Dolly Varden fishing here, with access points all along the nine-mile stretch.

Toad River

Muncho Lake Provincial Park – Mile 456

The next stop on your Alaska Highway fishing road trip is one that you’ll remember for a long time. Arguably one of the most stunning places you’ll visit on your voyage, Muncho Lake offers much more than great fishing. 

The lake is famous for its vibrant jade-green water, a product of the copper oxide leached from the bedrock underneath. Equally as impressive is the wildlife around Muncho Lake. Expect to find caribou, moose, stone sheep, and mountain goats in these parts. Don’t wander too far off the beaten trail though, or you’ll have grizzly and black bears, wolves, and lynxes to contend with.

There’s a number of activities to try out on the lake, from hiking to kayaking and birdwatching.

And of course, there’s the fishing. During the summer months, you can expect a fantastic Lake Trout bite. These critters top out at an incredible 50 pounds, so you’d better gear up. To sweeten the deal even further, there are great numbers of Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, and Walleye, too.

To properly explore this wonderful park, we recommend taking a few days and renting one of the cozy local lodges. Trust us, you will not want to leave this place. As much as you’d like to stay, you’ll eventually continue your road trip. Luckily, it won’t be long before the Alcan presents you with another treat.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park – Mile 496

Your next stop is a serene locale, perfect for relaxing after a long drive. As you approach the park, you’ll cross an impressive suspension bridge, allowing a stunning view of the Liard River. Just a few miles up the road, you’ll have an even more astonishing sight to behold.

Seemingly out of place, Liard River Hot Springs lie smack in the middle of a boreal forest. A wooden boardwalk gives entrance to a beautifully constructed pool full of steaming hot water. With water temperatures ranging from 108–126°F, you can enjoy a relaxing warm dip even with snow in your hair! 

a man with his hand stretched out in Liard River Hot Springs

The lower Liard River has a number of great fishing spots, too. The river’s tributaries are great for catching Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, Northern Pike, and Whitefish. Our advice? Go another 20 miles up the highway until you reach Fork Halkett, where Smith River meets Liard River. About a mile up Smith River, you’ll reach a spectacular two-tier waterfall. This place is an ideal choice if you’re looking to catch Arctic Grayling on the fly.

Watson Lake – Mile 635

In 1942, a homesick American soldier named Private Carl K. Lindley was working on the Alcan Highway. While stationed in Watson Lake, the nostalgic army-man posted his hometown sign from Danville, Illinois beside the road. Little did he know that this would start one of the Alaska Highway traditions. Fast-forward to today, and The Watson Lake Sign Post Forest has an astounding 72,000 signs.

You can leave your mark by making a sign post of your town in the local visitor’s center.

Far from a one-trick pony, Watson Lake has plenty of outdoor activities to offer as well. From quiet hiking trails, to horseback riding and canoeing, this town certainly punches above its weight. The Lake is accessible for fishing right from the highway, around 2 miles north from the town itself. There’s also a boat launch on the south side of the lake, just off the highway.

Watson Lake, Yukon

If you strike out on the weather, the town’s massive recreational center offers enclosed fitness areas, a youth center, a bowling alley, and even a hockey arena. 

Part 3

Continuing your Alcan adventure will take you past the immense Teslin Lake. The road follows the lakeshore for more than 30 miles so you’ll have no shortage of fishing opportunities as you go. Keep in mind that you have a long drive ahead – it takes five hours from Watson Lake to your next destination. If you’d prefer to take things slowly, you can book a motel room in Teslin (two-and-a-half hours from Watson Lake), and explore the nearby Nisutlin River Delta Wildlife Area.

Teslin Lake Bridge

Another spot you can explore in this part of your trip is Marsh Lake. The lake boasts good Lake Trout and Northern Pike angling, and there are a few lakeside cabins to choose from as well.

Whitehorse – Mile 918

Coming up on Mile 918, you’ll reach your journey’s biggest city – Whitehorse. Dating back to the Klondike Gold Rush, Whitehorse has grown beyond its prospecting origins to become the cultural hub of northern Canada. Today, the town is home to more than half of Yukon’s population.

Whitehorse is a popular tourist attraction, and a big reason for this is the fantastic fishing it offers. Yukon River and the surrounding lakes offer a variety of species, especially during summer. Long Lake, Chadden Lake, and Hidden Lakes are teeming with Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon. The best part is, all of these lakes are within a few miles from downtown Whitehorse.

a fishing boat going down Miles Canyon near Whitehorse, Yukon

If you’re serious about your fishing, or simply want to get the best views, hop on a floatplane and experience Yukon in its full glory.

Once you catch your fill, it’s time to have some fun off the water. Take a scenic hike along the Miles Canyon suspension bridge, or make a couple of stops to learn about the town’s fascinating history.  The 80-year-old sternwheeler S.S. Klondike, a favorite choice among families, is a testament to the town’s proud prospecting history.

And if you want to go further back in time, make sure to visit The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. This place is a treasure trove of fascinating information about the region’s prehistoric past. Learn about the Beringia, the massive land bridge that used to connect Yukon to Siberia. Better yet, discover the people who migrated all the way from distant Asia to make Yukon their home.

Whitehorse is the biggest town you’ll visit on your road trip, so make sure to replenish your supplies if you need to. Last but not least, spend the night at an idyllic lodge to end your Whitehorse visit in style.

Part 4

Kluane National Park and Reserve – Mile 984

Reenergized and ready to go, you’ll have a lot to look forward to as you continue your journey. As the road elevates ahead, the imposing sight of Kluane National Park mountain range draws nearer with every mile. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting 17 of Canada’s 20 highest peaks. 

You’ll find a range of activities throughout the park. You could easily spend days exploring the park’s hiking trails, rafting its foaming rivers, and fishing its bountiful lakes.

It will take you around two hours to reach the park from Whitehorse. Just before you do, the road will bring you to the village of Haines Junction. This is where you can choose to make a small detour off the Alcan, and onto Haines Highway. It won’t take you long to reach your next stop. It will probably take you even less time to realize how sound a decision you’ve made. 

Kathleen Lake

With serene hiking trails and crystal clear waters, Kathleen Lake is definitely one of the top nature lovers’ destinations in Canada. The lake offers plenty of picnic facilities and access points for fishing. In these pristine waters, you can catch Lake Trout, Arctic Grayling, and Kokanee Salmon.

Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park and Reserve, the perfect stop on a Alaskan Highway fishing road trip

There’s a well-marked hiking trail that leads you straight up to Kings Throne Peak. Conquering the peak will reward you with one of the most commanding views of the area, one that’s sure to remain the highlight of your trip.

If you wish to spend the night in the local campgrounds, make sure to reserve a spot in advance. Alternatively, you can take a short drive down Haines Highway to another cozy fishing lodge.

Back on the Alcan, the road offers striking vistas of the towering mountain ranges ahead. Around 40 miles from Haines Junction, the highway will break free from the surrounding forests, opening up a stunning vista of the sea-like Kluane Lake.

Kluane Lake

A sport fisherman’s paradise, Kluane Lake is one of Canada’s “Trophy Lakes.” Lake Trout over 40 pounds have earned it its monicker, but that’s not the only fish you can catch in these waters. Kluane Lake boasts large numbers of Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, and Burbot, too. The lake’s shores are dotted with cabins and lodges, offering all kinds of park-bound adventures. 

The next 200 miles, from Kluane Lake to the Alaska border, offer an enjoyable drive on well-maintained road and generous wide bends. On your way, you’ll be crisscrossing rivers and passing lakes and ponds of all sizes. The mountains in the backdrop only add to the scenic beauty of the area.

Kluane Lake in Kluane National Park and Reserve

Half an hour before you reach the border, you’ll pass through Beaver Creek. This is a convenient spot to make a short break and check that all your documents are in order for border control. 

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge – Mile 1174

Your first stop in Alaska will be the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge boasts extensive forests and wetlands with thousands of bodies of water. This place is a regular stop for a number of migrating birds, including geese, ducks, swans, cranes, and various songbirds. As far as mammals are concerned, there are 40 species of them here, including bears, caribou, lynxes, and moose.

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

As far as fishing goes, you’ll have no shortage of waters to chose from. These hold good numbers of Whiting, Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, and Lake Trout.

Tok – Mile 1313

Your official welcome to Alaska will happen in the town of Tok, just an hour or so from Tetlin. The town’s visitor center is where you’ll be able to learn about local history, wildlife, as well as nearby locales you might want to visit. The place is hard to miss, seeing as it’s a 7,000-square-foot log cabin.

Tok also has a variety of places you can spend the night in. From cabins and RV parks to bed-and-breakfast joints, you’ll have no shortage of options for accommodation here. 

Delta Junction – Mile 1422

You’ve made it to Delta Junction, the last stop on your Alcan journey – congratulations! Well, almost to the end, there’s still a lot to see and do in this place.

First things first – stop by the Delta Junction Visitor Information Center to get a certificate for completing your long trip. Well done! After you take your picture at the “end of the highway” monument, it’s time to see what this town and its surroundings have to offer.

the end of the Alaska Highway monument in Delta Junction

Let’s start with the fishing. Delta Junction is surrounded by waters of all shapes and sizes. The fertile Tanana River is the obvious choice, and a great spot for Burbot fishing. If you’re after keeper Rainbow Trout, the nearby Quartz Lake is your best option. If you’re looking to spend the entire day in a relaxing locale, however, head straight to the Clearwater State Recreation Site.

For a taste of the local charm and hospitality, visit the Farmer’s Market, which runs each Wednesday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Here, you’ll find all sorts of handmade crafts and organic produce, as well as historical books about the area. The local food stands serve freshly made pastries and hot dogs.

If you’re after more serious food, check out Delta Meat & Sausage. This place offers prime homegrown beef, pork, buffalo, elk, and yak meats. If you plan on going for a hunt, these guys will package your game for you. And if you haven’t already – grab a souvenir or two to remind you of all your Alcan road trip adventures.

A Journey to Remember

The Alaska Highway offers so many opportunities for fishing and adventure, that putting it on paper just doesn’t do it justice. What does is getting out on the road and experiencing this wonderful journey firsthand. We showed you a lot of things you can do along the Alcan, but we haven’t even scratched the surface. That’s probably the best thing about this magnificent highway.

a view of the Alaskan Highway with snow caped mountains in the background

You can take as long as you like, explore countless trails, and fish in a plethora of waters, exactly the way you like. Heck, you can do it all again and make a completely different adventure out of it. An Alaska Highway fishing road trip is yours to create. Bon voyage!

And now, we turn it over to you. What are your favorite spots along the Alaska Highway? Have you ever made the long journey before? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (2)
  • Barry radley

    Mar 4, 2020

    Re Alaska hi way Dawson creek has way more then 1400 more like 12000 inhabitants are you talking about Dawson city.?

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      Sean

      Mar 4, 2020

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks very much for pointing that out.

      Completely our mistake, and we corrected the text to show the accurate number for Dawson Creek.

      Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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