Strictly speaking this isn’t autumn, it was late August and early September, but while most of the northern hemisphere is only just packing away swimming costumes at the end of summer, The Yukon is already showing plenty of fall colour.
It was noticeable soon after leaving Whitehorse, but the further north I travelled the more visible autumn became. The mountains also appeared to become more well mountainous, and along with a deep dusting of snow on the peaks they became a spectacular backdrop to the road.
Read more tales my road trip in The Yukon: Tales from the Road – The Yukon
By the time I arrived in Dawson City and headed out to Tombstone Territorial Park it was verging on full winter. As I’d only decided to bring sandals, this meant slightly cold feet and some strange looks from the other boot wearing visitors. It was worth taking the drive along the Dempster Highway which bisects the park, more of a dirt track than a highway, lined by steep snow covered peaks and fall coloured trees and shrubs.
Crossing the Klondike River into Alaska and following the “Top of the World” Highway towards Kluane National Park, I was treated to mile upon mile of endless snow covered peaks. Ridges of jagged teeth following the road stretching far into the distance, reaching into a marbled blue sky from the colourful forests below.
Even early in September, there was a full palette of fall colour contrasting with the brilliant white of the mountain ranges. Aspen, birch and conifer provided a roadside splash of burnished golds, rich auburns and evergreens on a canvas of pure white and streaky blue.
The range of colour immediately catches the eye, but it’s the contrast of snow on rocky arêtes which emphasises the vibrancy of the multi-hued foliage. In the crisp, clear light of a mountain wilderness, all ridges seem especially sharp, like the edges of a razor.
Then there is the silence, a quiet that can only be found in a wilderness, maybe the odd song bird and occasionally rudely broken by a passing car or truck, but otherwise there wasn’t a sound. My marvelling at the colourful landscape of this wild province was barely disturbed.
Read about my experiences in the northwest territories: Inconnu Lodge – Serenity in The Yukon
Several hours were spent admiring the artistry of Mother Nature. Her seasonal creativity distracting me from concentrating on the Alaska Highway, a narrow strip of tarmac splitting the wilderness, which the vehicle greedily gobbled up. It was a good job the roads in The Yukon seem fairly quiet, even in the height of autumnal summer.
I dawdled my way towards Kluane, and the remainder of the road trip. Stopping regularly, jumping out of the small bus the Canadian rental company described as a car with a camera to grab some shots of late summer in The Yukon disguised as autumn.