Driving the Taylor Highway Alaska
Are you plan to drive the Taylor Highway Alaska? It’s a fantastic remote route. Driving Alaska Route 5, aka Taylor Highway, is a perfect solution during the summer months when it is possible to cross the USA – Canadian border at the northernmost international border crossing in North America. Where is the Taylor Highway? Is it challenging to drive through it? Is it paved? How to prepare for it? What are the most exciting stops on the route? Check our tips and photos.This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Where is the Taylor Highway?
The Taylor Highway (Alaska Route 5) is a highway extending 160 miles (258 km) from Tetlin Junction, about 11 miles (17 km) east of Tok on the Alaska Highway, to Eagle.
What’s essential, you can cross the U.S.-Canada border via the Taylor Highway in Poker Creek – Little Gold Creek Port of Entry. It is 96 miles (154 km) from Tetlin, at Jack Wade Junction, connecting with the Top of the World Highway, by which you can reach Dawson City in Canada, Yukon Territory, during part of the year. From Jack Wade Junction to Dawson City is 79 miles (127 km).
The Taylor Highway forks at Jack Wade Junction, milepost 95.5. The Boundary Spur Road leads east to the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City, Yukon. The Taylor Highway continues north to Eagle. Between Chicken and Eagle, the Taylor Highway is a narrow, winding gravel road with steep hills and hairpin turns. The road from Jack Wade Junction to Eagle is not recommended for campers. Therefore, we decided to skip the visit to Eagle. From Jack Wade Junction we drove to the border crossing.
Is Taylor Highway a part of the Top of the World Highway?
It is often assumed that way. The Top of the World Highway is actually two highways. In the Yukon (Canada), the Top of the World Highway is the Yukon Highway #9. The Top of the World Highway in Alaska (the USA) is the Taylor Highway. The Top of the World Highway joins the Taylor Highway at Jack Wade Junction.
When to drive the Taylor Highway Alaska?
From October to April, the road is closed to vehicles due to snow. During these months, all traffic is by snowmobile. So you can drive the Taylor Highway only in the summer months. This is a good solution if you are driving from Canada (Yukon) to Alaska or planning a trip from Alaska (USA) to Canada. We drove the Taylor Highway in September because our destination was Dawson City in Canada and then the Dempster Highway. But, keep in mind, that border crossing is open only for three months – from June through September.
PRO TIP: Before traveling the Taylor Highway, please visit 511 Alaska or call 511 for the latest weather and road conditions. Not all rental vehicles are allowed on this road, so check with your rental agency before you travel. One of the rentals which offer vehicles for this route is Alaska Auto Rental. Read our review here.
The USA – Canada Border Crossing at Poker Creek – Little Gold Creek
The Poker Creek – Little Gold Creek border crossing is located at The top of the World Highway between Dawson City, Yukon, and Chicken, Alaska, on the Alaska / Yukon border. The border crossing at the Poker Creek – Little Gold Creek border crossing is shared by Canadian and US border services.
This crossing is notable for being the northernmost international border crossing in North America.
The border crossing is open 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM AKT, summers only. There is a one-hour difference in standard time zones at this border. The port of crossing will be open for three months this summer from June 1 to September 1, 2022. The agency advised travelers to plan for weather delays, as the crossing sits at over 4,500 feet altitude and often can see cold weather during summer months. US Phone is (703) 921-7750/7751.
Short History of the Taylor Highway
The Taylor Highway was built in 1953 to provide access to Eagle, Chicken, and the historic Fortymile Mining District. The highway also provides access to the Fortymile River National Wild and Scenic River system. The large Fortymile caribou herd roams near the road. The Taylor Highway is a route through gold mining history. Gold was discovered here as early as 1881-1886, and discoveries in 1887 and 1888 led to the first gold rush in Interior Alaska. Mining settlements such as Jack Wade, Chicken, and Franklin were established virtually overnight. Trails were quickly established by men traveling between nearby Eagle and the new mining settlements. These trails eventually became wagon roads and became the Taylor Highway. Originally called Fortymile Road, it was later renamed Taylor Highway in honor of Ike Taylor, president of the Alaska Road Commission (ARC) from 1932 to 1948.
Is the Taylor Highway in Alaska paved?
The first 64 miles of Taylor Highway are paved, with some sections damaged by light to heavy frost heave. The road surface on the gravel section is fair to poor, depending on maintenance. Rough spots are not always marked. Shoulders are generally narrow and can be soft and unstable. The route is paved from the Alaska Highway to the Mosquito Fork Fortymile River Bridge at Mile 64.3 (it’s 2 miles south of Chicken).
Is driving the Taylor Highway dangerous?
In our opinion, it was not a dangerous route. Driving slowly and respecting traffic regulations, you can safely navigate the Taylor Highway. The Dempster Highway via the Arctic Circle to the Arctic Ocean was much more difficult. But for sure is a remote highway. There is no traffic. No people except hunters. Also, the Dalton Highway in Alaska, which leads you almost to the Arctic Ocean is much rougher, more challenging, and more dangerous.
Is there cell service on Taylor Highway?
On the Taylor Highway, we had no reception or cell phone coverage most of the time. Even after crossing the border into the Yukon, we had no cell phone reception. It was only in Dawson City we had a cell phone and internet reception. Therefore, before you go on this route, get the best map of this area – MILEPOST. The Milepost is a great resource for anyone traveling through Alaska by RV or car. If you are planning a road trip from the Lower 48 or Canada, we highly recommend purchasing it. The maps and information are invaluable. We used it also during our drive through Dalton Highway and during our Alaska road trips.
- The best travel guide to Alaska
- The MILEPOST includes mile-by-mile descriptions of more than 15,000 miles of road in Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta
- Its 600-plus pages detail accommodations, camping, fishing, gas stops, restaurants, attractions and services found along the highways and byways of Alaska and western Can
Tips for driving the Taylor Highway Alaska
- Keep in mind that there are very limited services or facilities available along the road.
- You should fill up gas tanks and use dump stations before traveling the highway.
- Pack a supply of water and food. It may turn out that in Chicken or Eagle, the shops will be closed. You can check our Road Trip Packing List and Alaska Packing List.
- Plan driving during the day only.
- Camping and overnight stay on the route at night is not allowed.
- There is a lot of hunting in these areas, so do not stray from the route to hunting grounds because it can be dangerous.
The best stops on the Taylor Highway Alaska
You can check the most exciting stops on the Taylor Highway mile by a mile with a map here.
First of all, have your camera ready for spectacular views of the Alaska Range and Mentasta Mountains as you drive out of Tetlin Junction.
Drive through the Fortymile goldfields made famous by the novels of Jack London. The Fortymile River system is a National Wild & Scenic River with miles of exciting whitewater. These mountains are full of gold and other minerals, but also of moose, caribou, bears, and stories about the gold rush. Gold was first discovered in 1886 on the Fortymile River near the Yukon-Alaska border. The discovery of gold on the Fortymile River led to the first great gold rush in Alaska.
Visit Chicken, a town named by early settlers unable to spell Ptarmigan. The community was founded by gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold mining towns in Alaska. At the time of the 2010 census, the population was 7. You can check more photos and find more info about the quirky town of Chicken in our separate post.
Jack Wade junction
The Top of the World Highway joins the Taylor Highway at Jack Wade junction. Here you are 64 miles south of the historic town of Eagle and 14 miles west of the U.S.-Canada border. On clear days you can see Canada’s Ogilvie Mountains to the northeast. From here to Eagle, the road becomes very narrow and more dangerous for large trailers and oversized vehicles.
The U.S. – Canada border
So you can continue your drive to the U.S./Canada border, then to Dawson City, 78 miles farther. Remember to take a passport and VISA/ESTA (if needed)
Or go to the north to the Eagle. Eagle has a population of 115. The town of Eagle was founded in 1897 after the U.S. Army established law and order during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Army built Fort Egbert in 1899, and it is now a National Historic Landmark. You can explore this historic site on your own or take a tour offered daily by the Eagle Historical Society.
Where to stay for a night while driving the Taylor Highway?
Overnight camping is not allowed at BLM waysides along the Taylor Highway.
- At milepost 49, there is a West Fork Campground & River Access with ample parking for cars and RVs. From the scenic overlook on the upper road, you can watch trumpeter swans and moose in the small lake below. This river access is the southernmost access point to the 400-mile Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River System.
- At milepost 65.3 in Chicken, you will find the Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost. There is a campground, RV park, and cabin rentals here. On-site there is a restaurant, gift store, historic gold dredge and museum, gold mine tours, recreational mining, and gold panning.
- You will find Walker Fork Campground at milepost 82 on the Taylor Highway. The campground is operated by the BLM and offers 18 campsites. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Lassen Airstrip runway was located here. Year-round air service replaced sleds that carried equipment and fuel to mining camps on Jack Wade Creek only in winter.
- Eagle Campground with 18 campsites. Within walking distance of village of Eagle and historic Fort Egbert.
We covered this route during our most extended road trip to date. We traveled 26,000 miles and spent over 8 months traveling in an RV from Alaska to Florida. This trip has taught us a lot. So if you are planning a long road trip, you can take a look at a few of our other articles:
I did not realize that this highway closed for so many months of the year. I bet it’s a stunning road trip. Yukon is on my list to visit, although I would fly in. I love that one of the roads is called Mosquitoes. I actually didn’t think they survived that far north. Black flies, yes but not mosquitoes.
What a lovely road trip. And with these amazing views I can understand how you must have felt experiencing it yourself. Eagle sounds and looks a nice place to roam around. Visiting Fort Egbert would be a lot of pleasure for me as I love visiting these historical Monuments and learning the history.
Thank you for the heads up and the tips. It is important to know that there are limited services/ facilities so we can prepare properly. Bookmarking this post for future reference.
This sounds like quite an adventure! I can see why it makes sense to be prepared with maps, food, and knowing where you will spend the night, given that the cell phone service is out for so long. I love these little 115-person towns like Eagle. It reminds me a bit of a real life “Northern Exposure.” I’ve never thought of taking this trip (or even knew that it was possible), but you’ve piqued my interest!
The Taylor Highway looks like a stunning roadtrip. Actually I do not like road trips very much, but I see the appeal of the Taylor Highway. There are many interesting (and also weired) stops along the way. And it also offers a sense of wilderness and frontier. Good to know that the border is closed in winter and during the night!
I found this very interesting as the highway is occasionally available, only few months of the year. Also, the border crossing is for fewer months. The road seems great and the views are incredible. I would love to experience the Taylor Highway sometimes in the summer.
Never would I have assumed that a highway post would be so interesting. A very well-described stretch with its history of gold mining and its current condition is. I love the valuable tips you have added about cell phone signals, fuel stops as well as whether it is paved or not. From your post, it seems like a lovely experience to drive on the stretch.
Thank you for all the tips on traversing this route! The campground with scenic views seems like a great place to stop and take some photos after a long drive. Recreational mining at the Chicken Gold Outpost sounds fun!
Your post is reminding me why we want to head back to Alaska and do a road trip. I would certainly want to take the Boundary Spur Road to get to Dawson City. But I would not want to miss the wild road that is the Taylor Highway after Chicken. Good to plan this trip for the summer. A great post to keep for when we finally get this trip scheduled.
We drove the Taylor Highway and the Top of the World Highway! We departed from Chicken, Alaska. Then we crossed that Poker Creek border crossing and went on to Dawson City.
Really amazing views. I have some friends in Alaska, but I haven’t been up that way to visit. I see that the road is closed during the winter. I am a Florida girl so I would prefer summer anyway. I will have to check it out.