Day 126-127 of our Journey

We wish we could tell you more about Whitehorse, but we really only pause there long enough to be impressed by their roomy, gorgeous, efficient, comprehensive and helpful visitor center and to spend the night at the Hide on Jeckell hostel—which we cannot rave about enough. We never even made it to the fish ladder in town (something that’s still a sore spot with Eric).

The Nisutlin Bay Bridge in Teslin, on the way to Whitehorse.

Downtown Whitehorse.

The historic Klondike paddlewheel boat on the Yukon River in Whitehorse. This was once the only way to get around much of the north.

Why such a rush? The next morning we were Alaska bound and along the way we wanted to check out a little dot on the map called Atlin in British Columbia. We figured we’d make a 100 mile (160 km) detour, check out the town, and still get into Alaska by dark. What we didn’t factor in is how interesting Atlin is.

Downtown Atlin is home to a collection of historic buildings that have been moved from the nearby gold mining ghost town of Discovery.

Exploring Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

Part Northern Exposure, part Norman Rockwell, part Gunsmoke, Atlin was a booming gold town in 1898 and is now home to a collection of gold rush era buildings moved from a nearby ghost town optimistically called Discovery.

The town had about 400 residents and had become an artsy little charmer with an annual arts and music festival and some really good local craftsmen and women like Kathryn Taylor who runs Simply Gold where she sells beautiful jewelry which she makes out of nuggets that are still found in the area.

A moody day over British Columbia’s largest lake, Atlin Lake.

Atlin is also on British Columbia’s largest lake, Lake Atlin, which is considered to be the source of the Yukon River. The name Atlin is the native Tlingit word for “big body of water.” Part of the Atlin/Téix’gi Aan Tlein Provincial Park, the lake is fed by the Llewellyn Glacier—just one of many glaciers you can kayak to from Atlin.

By the time we’d figured all that out it was late in the day to carry on and we started thinking about finding a place to spend the night. Atlin town runs a beautiful city campground, but the swarms of black flies made that idea a little less appealing. Then we remembered seeing a sign offering cabins for rent on our way into town, so we backtracked and pulled into Minto View Cabins.

Looking across Lake Atlin to the Llewellyn Glacier.

Abby, the happiest dog ever, was the first to greet us, followed closely by Carla who runs the place with her husband, Gary. Carla and Abby showed us the Cozy Cabin, a snug building with two single beds, a wood burning stove, and a basic kitchen. It was charming and just the right mix of comfort and rustic-ness, but when Carla took us inside the two-story Homestead Cabin we fell in love with the huge picture windows and shower and lovely sleeping loft. Even though the Homestead can sleep four and rents for nearly twice the price of the smaller cabin Carla let us take it for the same price. We were home.

Our homestead in Atlin, the Minto View Cabins.

Both cabins share an immaculate outhouse which, we were warned, had been taken over by squirrels that had stashed mushrooms into every nook and cranny. Carla said she tried clearing the mushrooms out, but an hour later the industrious squirrels simply put their winter cache back where it was. So now we all shared the outhouse in a kind of truce that works just fine except for the occasional screams from a squirrel who thought we were stealing its food.

Evening view from a hill above Minto View Cabins in Atlin.

Near sunset, Carla asked if we wanted to join her on a walk around the property (she and Gary own a large tract of land beyond where the cabins are located) and the three of us (and Abby the happy dog) headed out across a wide field toward a small hill. The view from the top was so spectacular that even the biting black flies couldn’t spoil it.

That night we cooked a delicious meal in the cabin’s kitchen—complete with pumped in running hot water and a Coleman stove. The shower was hot, the wood stove was warm, and we could not have been happier. It was not a hard decision to stay a second night.

By the way, we hit 20,000 miles in Atlin.

Here’s more about travel in Canada