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At mile 635 of the Alaska Highway sits the tiny town of Watson Lake, Yukon. If you’re heading to Alaska, you’ve got just under 700 miles left. However, this town makes for a great overnight stop.
So how do you fill a day in a town with a population of less than 800? Don’t worry; we’ve found several excellent options to do just that.
Today, we’re sharing our one-day itinerary for Watson Lake, Yukon. Let’s take a look!
What Is Watson Lake, Yukon?
Watson Lake is a popular stop for adventurers traveling on the Alaskan Highway. It sits in the southeastern corner of Canada’s Yukon territory.
It earned a reputation for some of its quirky attractions and breathtaking landscapes. However, it’s not just about tourism and natural beauty; locals also take pride in their heritage.
For thousands of years, First Nations people have lived throughout the region. They play a significant role in helping to preserve traditions by educating visitors about their culture. A quick stop here can be educational and entertaining.
No matter what brings you to Watson Lake, Yukon, make the most of your time. Whether staying for a night or longer, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding something to do. It provides an authentic taste of Canada’s northern beauty and cultural heritage.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Watson Lake, Yukon?
Like much of Canada, the best time to visit is during summer. The temperatures are warm, and there’s lots of sunlight. Since most visitors are heading towards or away from Alaska, June and August are the best times to visit.
Unfortunately, the weather can be hit or miss in spring and fall. It may accommodate your plans, it might not. Additionally, winters here can be brutal. Temperatures regularly drop below zero, and snow blankets the landscape from November to March.
But the advantage of visiting in winter is it provides the best chance to experience the northern lights.
Things to Do in Watson Lake, Yukon
So what should you do while you’re staying in Watson Lake? As we said, you’ll find quirky, educational, and adventurous things to consider. Here are some great options we’ve found to help you get started.
Explore Sign Post Forest
In 1943, Carl K. Lindley received instruction to repaint a damaged road sign. The sign indicated the number of miles to various locations. After completing his assignment, Lindley had the idea to create a sign for his hometown, which read, “Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles.”
Little did he know that he would be starting a trend that others would follow for the next 80 years. The single sign has turned into an entire forest of signs that encompasses a few acres. Estimates are that there are more than 80,000 different items on wooden poles throughout the forest.
This is one of the most visited items in Watson Lake, Yukon. You could spend hours wandering through the forest, looking at all the unique items. You may find something from your hometown.
Visit Watson Lake Visitor Interpretive Centre
Watson Lake Visitor Interpretive Centre lets you learn about this area of Yukon. The staff is incredible and can provide a wealth of knowledge. Chat with the workers here if you need help finding where to start exploring. They’ll give you all the brochures and information to get started.
Many guests make it a point to return year after year to chat with the employees. One visitor shared that they wanted to make a sign for their hometown but didn’t come prepared.
They said the staff told them where to get all the materials and lent them nails and a drill bit. This friendliness will make you want to live in a small town like Watson Lake.
Learn at the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre
The Northern Lights Space and Science Centre has educated guests on the Aurora borealis since 1996. You’ll find interactive displays and information about Canada’s space program and rock technology.
It also features a 100-set domed theater. During the summer, they broadcast a video on the dome that mimics what you’d see in the skies during winter.
If you want to learn about one of the most incredible nighttime spectacles, the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre in Watson Lake, Yukon, is the place to do it.
Keep in Mind: You don’t have to travel to another country to see the Northern Lights! Here’s Where (and When) You Can See the Northern Lights in the US
Play at the Watson Lake Recreation Centre
While exploring the Sign Post Forest, you’re next to the Watson Lake Recreation Centre. Here you’ll find various recreation facilities available for everyone to enjoy. You can rent winter equipment, work up a sweat in the weight room, or compete at the three-lane bowling alley.
The Watson Lake Recreation Centre welcomes travelers passing through town by allowing the use of their shower facilities. If you’ve ever spent time on the road, there’s nothing better than a long, hot shower. Take advantage of a chance to get squeaky clean while on the road!
Bird Watching and Wildlife Viewing
Another popular activity for those passing through is bird watching or wildlife viewing. If you look to the skies, you’ll likely see bald eagles, ospreys, and great horned owls. However, we suggest bringing a set of binoculars to get an up-close look without startling them.
The wilderness that surrounds Watson Lake, Yukon, is full of wildlife. It’s common to spot moose, black bears, grizzly bears, and caribou. Additionally, you may see lynx, foxes, and wolves occasionally.
Cruise around early or late evening for the best chances. Look for quiet areas where human activity is at a minimum.
Catch Dinner While Fishing
If you’re an angler, we have good news! Watson Lake has some excellent fishing. You’ll find several species of trout, Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, and Kokanee Salmon. The area has numerous lakes, rivers, and creeks that offer excellent fishing.
However, make sure you take the time to research the rules and regulations for fishing. Acquire the proper license and stay on the right side of the law. You want to avoid getting into a legal battle for something as simple as a fishing license.
Keep in Mind: Before your next fishing trip, consider purchasing a Travel Fishing Rod!
Connect with Nature While Camping
Despite its smaller size, Watson Lake, Yukon, has several campgrounds. This provides you with an excellent opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the area. If you want to relax outdoors, consider getting comfortable in Watson Lake.
You should consider the Watson Lake Campground. You’ll find 40 campsites, with eight pull-through sites. However, this seasonal campground only stays open from the start of May until the beginning of October.
If you want to venture further into nature, lace up your hiking boots and explore one of the trails.
Is Watson Lake, Yukon Worth Visiting?
Watson Lake, Yukon, is a small town, but big things come in small packages. Between the quirky attractions, community spirit, and cultural opportunities, you don’t want to pass by without stopping. Pull in and find a spot to get comfortable while you explore and learn about this fascinating area.
Would you visit Watson Lake, Alaska while traveling?