They talk about the colors in New England and they’re right – I’ve seen them and they are spectacular with red, yellow and gold. But a late September drive through the Yukon and British Columbia has its own beauty, lots of it! While it lacks much red, the golds and yellows are offset by the beautiful dark green of black spruce and accented by fluffy yellow larch – a deciduous conifer. And then there is the sheer magnitude – miles and miles of color. Add in the decided lack of other people, top it off with the wildlife which are more evident as they move to lower elevations with the cooler weather, and it’s not to be missed trip.
Wednesday’s drive began in Watson Lake, British Columbia – a popular stop on the Al-Can Highway. We had made the wise decision not to camp, a decision confirmed when we stepped out of the Big Horn Lodge to find ice on the truck. We headed south and it wasn’t long before we spotted sign (aka critter poop) along the roadside and soon we came upon a black bear though he moved off into the brush quickly. Next up, we spotted a Wood Bison bull. The British Columbia Wood Bison is endangered but we saw many throughout the day – singles, groups, adults,and youngsters. My favorite was a group with young ones lying flat out like tired teenagers. Further down the road we saw and heard two large Vs of migrating Sandhill Cranes – a sure sign of fall
A stop at Liard Hot Springs is required on this drive. Its a mostly natural sulphur spring, accessed by a wood boardwalk through the bogs and forest. The park has built changing rooms and is working on a small day lodge to be finished this year. There are also upper pools but they were closed due to a problem bear. Because of the warmth, there is an amazing amount of plants not normally found here so even if you don’t take a dip, its worth the walk .
After our Liard stretch, our next stop was Muncho Lake – a wonderful geologic area with alluvial plains and fans created by summer runoffs washing down the steep bare mountains. Muncho has areas of emerald to jade green, caused by the copper oxide in the rock and we pulled off on the shore for lunch overlooking the lake.
Continuing our drive after lunch, we saw two separate caribou, both of which were fairly unconcerned with us. In fact, one seemed quite interested for a bit, walking towards us and stopping to stare.
A bit further along, we slowed for Stone sheep ewes along the road. We also saw porcupines, swans swimming in the distance & mallards paddling in roadside ponds.
All in all, it was a wonderful wildlife day accompanied by awesome scenery!