RV Adventures in Northern BC – Road to Atlin
The rugged beauty of British Columbia’s north offers the traveler once-in-a-lifetime views of staggering and drop-dead stunning landscapes that cannot be matched. Snow-covered mountains marching across the landscape, glaciers, rivers and lakes, forests and plateaus. This is the wild north of a great land. Plan not to miss it.
The Northern BC Adventure Tours encompass four separate tours: The Road to Atlin; Wilderness Adventure Along the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy; Kitwanga Junction; Following the Yellowhead Hwy to Prince George. If you were to do them all in one trip you would need about four weeks to appreciate it all. It also assumes that you will start your trip in the north and head south, perhaps picking up a rental motor home in Whitehorse, Yukon and starting from there.
Tour 1: The Road to Atlin
Atlin was established as a tent city back in the days of the gold mining boom. In 1898, when gold diggers hiked the Golden Staircase from tidewater at Skagway in Alaska, some of them came upon the area now known as Atlin and the town was on its way. It was welcome news for the hundreds of would-be miners struggling toward Dawson City as most were running short of supplies, energy and money. Atlin, also known as Pine City, housed up to 10,000 people during the Gold Rush, many in tents.
It is now home to about 400 residents and a retreat for tourists. It is a small place at the end of the road where those who come, take their time.
Directions & Estimated Driving Time: Atlin is located in the far northwest corner of British Columbia. Whether you are traveling from Whitehorse or Watson Lake in the Yukon or Skagway in Alaska the road to Atlin is only accessible by heading south via Hwy 7 from Jake’s Corner on the Alaska Hwy in the Yukon.
Jake’s Corner is 65 km / 40 mi south of Whitehorse, and 245 km / 152 mi from Watson Lake. Located in the Southern Lakes Region along the Alaska Hwy, there are no shortcuts between the peaks, major lakes and rivers.
The community of Teslin lies about half-way between Whitehorse and Watson Lake with the road winding in and out of the Southern Lakes Region. It is an area of a large group of lakes, including Tagish Lake and Atlin Lake which are head waters of the Yukon River.
The 100 km / 62 mi from Jake’s Corner is paved all the way to Atlin. Note: In 2019 there was no cell service in this area.
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in this area of British Columbia go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Atlin. It should be noted that camping opportunities are very limited in this area of British Columbia so pre-planning is suggested. For good campgrounds on the Yukon side of Hwy 8 go to Snafu Lake and Tarfu Lake.
Today, characterized by small houses and stores facing the eastern shore of Atlin Lake, the small isolated community of Atlin operates independent of a mayor, council or reeve. It is all run by volunteers. There is a guide available to historical buildings on streets that were once lined with banks, saloons, parlors, restaurants and hotels. Mining claims are still yielding gold in the local creeks.
Things To Do
Commemorating Atlin. Pick up a souvenir copy of the Special Visitors Edition of the Atlin Claim that commemorates 100 years of settlement that salutes iconic landmarks that are carefully preserved, including the M.V. Tarahne (the steam-powered Tarahne was designed as an excursion boat with an observation deck and the comforts of wicker chairs that took passengers on 80 km / 50 mi tours of the lake to see the Llewellyn Glacier, Torres Channel and Cathedral Mountain), the Globe Theatre and Atlin Schoolhouse Museum. Many scenes in the movie Never Cry Wolf were filmed in Atlin. Paintings, carvings, photographs are available for sale in the Courthouse Gallery.
Atlin Lake. The outdoors and stunning scenery are what drew people to make their home in Atlin and are what draw visitors today. Atlin Lake is fed by Llewellyn Glacier with the melting ice and sediment providing the beautiful aquamarine waters. Boating and fishing are popular and with this being the largest natural lake in British Columbia at 6.5 km / 4 mi wide and 126 km / 85 mi long there is plenty of coastline to explore. Those who like to drop a line in the waters will be blessed with access to rainbow trout, arctic grayling and northern pike. And you can fish right off the town dock.
Atlin Provincial Park. There is no road access to Atlin Provincial Park so plan a trip by boat or plane. Visitors to this region should be fully equipped as there are no park personnel in the area. The park surrounds the lower half of Atlin Lake and some one third of the park is covered by glaciers. Atlin Park has much to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and more. There are four main trails in the park with information on the Atlin Provincial Park website. Wildlife abounds. Watch for grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, caribou. You can also see blue and ruffed grouse, otters, gulls and even white-tailed ptarmigan.
Arts & Culture. A number of well-known artists, authors and artisans have chosen to make Atlin home and you can see their influence on the community particularly if you are here for the annual Arts & Music Festival in July.
Published: June 17, 2020
Last Updated: June 9, 2023