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Toyota Tacoma Adventure: Yukon Road Trip

Oct 08, 2020

Written by Michael Overbeck, a commercial and adventure photographer based in the Coast Mountains of Canada.

Thanks to the good folks at Toyota Canada for helping support the cost of my trip and providing me with the Toyota Dash Cam to document our journey. 

Toyota Tacoma Offroad

Earlier this summer we left our home in Squamish, BC and drove North in search of empty roads, scenic camping and world-class bike trails. Ever since I was young I’ve had a deep fascination with the Yukon. In my eyes it has a sense of mystique and elusiveness to it – along with truly incredible geography. A land that holds a lifetime of exploration and indescribable beauty with a unique remoteness to it.

When planning this adventure – a few of the things I spent a lot of time thinking about and dialing in was our camping setup, storage solutions and the outdoor gear we needed to bring. One of the fastest ways to figure this all out is to get out for a few weekend road trips – there’s nothing like hands-on experience to figure out what works best for you. What works for you may be different than what works for me. When we began planning our route and making a schedule for the trip – we noted our top places we wanted to visit and built a route that got us to as many of those spots as possible. We researched trails we wanted to bike, roads we wanted to drive and places we wanted to see. For this – we looked through various books, articles and blog posts. Once we knew where we wanted to go we used a variety of online maps and satellite images to get us there. One thing to note is the Yukon has very limited cell service so we made sure to bring a good old fashioned map as well.

Finally, it’s time to hit the road – remember to embrace what comes and to not stress when things don’t ultimately go to plan… remember, this is an adventure after all.

2017 Toyota Tacoma Exterior

Toyota Tacoma Interior

The Stats:

23 Days, 7804km, 17 Hours of Daylight, 8486 Photos, 5 Ecosystems, 10 Mountain Passes & 50+ Bear Sightings.

The Truck:

2017 Tacoma Double-Cab 6FT Bed
TRD Sport Upgrade
80,080km

Growing up, my family had a Toyota Sienna and we drove that van down to California, through the Rockies and across the Prairies more times than I can count. A decade later and I was doing those same trips in my 2010 4Runner – driving it to Alaska, along the Coast to California and across most of Canada and the United States. This year, I decided to switch things up and try a pickup truck. I was looking at both the Tacoma and Tundra – but decided that the Tacoma is the perfect truck for my adventures. It fits all my gear, has a narrower wheelbase and the V6 works great for all of my current needs.

On these early trips with my family I found a love for taking pictures… pointing my camera at whichever landscape we drove through. For this trip I had a Toyota Genuine Dash Camera installed so I could document the most scenic stretches of road while focusing on driving. With its wide angle lens I never missed those spur of the moment wildlife encounters on the road.

We decided to keep the truck mostly stock but the few modifications and accessories we added were : The aforementioned Toyota Dash Camera, Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs (265/70R17), Custom-Made Truck Bed Rack, Thule Roof Top Tent and a Thule Awning. The storage system in the truck was three rubber totes for our camp, cooking & outdoor gear. When it came to hauling our bikes – we went with the tried and true Thule T2 Pro with the Hitch Swing which was a must-have for tailgate access.

Toyota Tacoma Bike carrier attachment

Toyota Tacoma with Mountain Bikes

 

The Route:

Alaska-Canada Highway

Our trip started off on none other than the world famous Alaska-Canada Highway. Built in 1942 during the Second World War – this stretch of road runs from Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, AK via the Yukon Territories. We spent a few days driving this road and took this opportunity to be on the lookout for Bears, Fox & Bison – this highway is an endless “wildlife tour”.

Toyota Tacoma Yukon Sign

Top of the World Highway

On a search for clear skies and warmer weather – we continued North to the Top of the World Highway. A 127 km-long highway that connects Dawson City, YT to Jack Wade, AK. To access the highway you need to hop on a small ferry to cross the Yukon River just West of Dawson City. Once on the other side, you begin climbing up out of the valley where the road meanders through a series of ridge tops and stays well above tree line for more than 50km.

Toyota Tacoma off-road splash through water in the Yukon

Toyota Tacoma tent and camping

The Dempster Highway

Canada’s most Northerly Highway – starting just East of Dawson City, YT and ending well above the Arctic Circle in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. The highway is named after Yukon Mountie William Dempster, who earned distinction for discovering the fate of The Lost Patrol in the early 1900’s. Due to physical distancing measures – we weren’t able to complete the entirety of the road but it was one of the highlights of the trip nonetheless. Just one more reason for us to come back and complete this route another year.

Toyota Tacoma off-road with cargo

Toyota Tacoma exterior in the sunset

Haines Junction

This is a town I find myself coming back to time and time again. We left it till the end because I knew it would be hard to leave. This small community sits on the edge of Kluane National Park & Reserve – which is home to Canada’s tallest mountains and holds one of the largest non polar ice field systems in the world. While in Haines Junction – we hiked the King’s Throne Trail, drove up Haines Pass, stayed in a Yurt at the Mount Logan Lodge & flew over the Kluane Range in a small bush plane.

Sights of the lakes in the Yukon on the road trip

Remote Yukon Mountains on the road trip adventure

Toyota Tacoma Off-Road 4x4

Whitehorse & Carcross

A key part of our trip was to ride our bikes – after looking through the series of trail networks in the Yukon it became apparent that the majority of the riding was in Whitehorse and Carcross. These towns also offered to be a great place for a resupply on gas, food & other essentials.

Yukon Mountain Biking

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Also known as Highway-37 – it is British Columbia’s most Northerly Highway and offered some of the best wildlife viewing we had on the entire trip. From Moose to Bears and Lynx to Buffalo – this road had it all. We took three days to drive this 874km stretch of road and made sure to take some time to turn off onto the Glacier Highway into Stewart, BC. Driving in we had little to no expectations but this road was one of our favourites. The valley is filled with giant old growth, waterfalls and glaciers running straight down to the highway. On top of that – the small town of Stewart has a handful of amazing cafés and restaurants to stop in at.

Toyota Tacoma Off-Road

Yukon Birds

 

The Yukon was far more than we could’ve hoped for. We really did luck out with quieter roads than normal and some incredible stretches of clear weather. One of my favourite parts of the Yukon is the fact that there is something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for remote adventure or want to sightsee with your family – the Yukon has it all.