Yukon Territory, Canada Welcome Sign Yukon Territory, Canada Welcome Sign

Watson Lake Wonders: A Complete Guide to Exploring Yukon’s Natural Gem

Watson Lake is a small town in Yukon, the southern part of the Canadian territory. It is located on the Alaska Highway at 635 miles, close to the border of British Columbia in Canada.

Watson Lake is at the junction of Alaska Highway and the Robert Campbell Highway. This town started as a trading post in the 19th century but is now known to be the key area for distribution and communication services in Canada’s Yukon territory.

Screenshot of the cover page of the Watson lake town official website.
Source: Official website of Watson Lake Town.

Watson Lake is an artificial lake in Yukon that was established in April 1915. It lies around the Liard River, and the area’s establishments with Watson Lake constitute the Liard River First Nation, a member of the Kaska Dena Council.

The Yukon territory of Canada, whose capital is Whitehorse, is an area of rugged landscape with high plateaus and mountains.

Some Interesting Facts and Places in Watson Lake 

1. History of Watson Lake 

The town was named after Frank Watson, who was an American man who belonged to California and came to Watson Lake in Klondike in search of gold in 1897. He turned into a pioneer-miner-trapper who got settled here with his wife, Adela Stone, later.

History remembers him as the first white man to explore the area and settle with his family serving the Watson Lake community.

The Government of Canada established various airbases in the northwest zone, of which the airbase at Watson Lake became the most important part.

With the establishment of the airfield and the Alaska Highway project, the area of Watson Lake began to manifest. The Alaska highway became the major supply route between the country of Alaska and the other lower 48 states.

Under the Alaska highway project plan, the Alaska highway served airfields of the northwest zone, and with this connection, the town of Watson Lake was born.

A view empty road of the Alaska Highway of Watson Lake in Yukon.
Source: Unlimphotos

Within a short period, the Alaska highway became the major transportation route connecting the north to south communities.

This route is a major travel route from Yukon and Alaska, which opened the gates for logging and mining industries in the territory. This highway project turned into an asset to Yukon’s economy.

2. Landscape and Geography

2.1. Travelling Route

Watson Lake is known to be the first Yukon community on the Alaska Highway, also called the “Gateway to the Yukon” because it became the major traveling trail, joining the Alaska Highway and Yukon territory.

2.2. Weather

In Watson Lake, the summers are long and comfortable, whereas the winters are cold. People prefer to come here in the summer for warm-weather activities.

Additionally, it is known that July is the hottest month, and January is the coldest month. According to the data, average temperature goes as high as 71°F and as low as -13°F.

2.3. Population

The total population of the town of Watson Lake was estimated to be around 1200 in the year 2022.

3. Transportation

Yukon Air Service Ltd. Building at the Watson Lake Airport.
Source: Unsplash

Watson Lake has its operating airport by the name of Watson Lake airport in Yukon. Earlier, this airport was under the operations of Canadian Pacific Airlines and other domestic and regional airline services. Currently operated by Air North and other chartered and corporate airport services.

Watson Lake offers housing services at various hotels and motels with bed and breakfast services like Cedar Lodge Motels, Air Force Lodge, and Big Born Hotel. Camping facilities are available in Watson Lake at Downtown R.V. Park.

4. Signpost Forest

The signpost forest is the most famous tourist attraction in Watson Lake.

The signpost forest gained recognition due to an injured officer recovering from an injury on the Alaska highway, projecting 1942. The officer-in-charge asked him to repair the signposts, and while doing it, he put up a sign of direction and mileage indicating his hometown, Danville, Illinois.

This trend caught attention with time, and today, the Signpost forest has around 77000 signs in the forest. Visitors come and contribute to this tradition; hence, this place is a major attraction of Watson Lake.

A view inside the Signpost Forest with many sign boards in Watson Lake in Yukon.
Source: Pixabay

5. Watson Lake Recreational Activities

There are a lot of fun and adventurous activities happening at Watson Lake, like waterslides, beach volleyball, swimming, camping, water skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.

Various recreation centers offer a range of activities, such as a bowling alley, squash courts, meeting rooms, fitness center, youth center, community hall, hockey courts, and curling club.

5.1. Lakeside Activities at Lucky Lake

Lucy Lake is one of Watson Lake’s favorite spots and an ideal place for friends and family. It is a great picnic area with a picnic table, fire pits, hiking trails, fishing, and sandy beaches. The park has a water slide 500 feet long, which drops to 60 feet deep.

5.2. Wye Lake Park

It is a 26-hectare wonderful park spread out in Downtown Watson Lake. It is a great park with a 2.5 km walking trail, playground, picnic area, pavilion, skiing, and a great place for watching birds.

6. Yukon Northern Lights Centre

A screenshot of a page of the Yukon Historical & Museums Association website with the Northern Lights Centre.
Source: Yukon Historical & Museums Association website

One of the other major attractions of the Yukon territory is known as the Northern Lights. It is also known as the forecasting of the Aurora Borealis in Yukon.

The Yukon Northern Lights Space and Science Centre is the only heritage attraction of Yukon in Canada and the only planetarium in North America. The glimpse of the northern lights is caught in the starting first weeks of winter and is seen prominently from the middle of August to the middle of April.

The ideal viewing condition is the no-moon nights where the sky is clear and dark, while 10 pm to 3 am is considered the magic window for aurora borealis.

Whenever in the capital of Yukon, take the driveway route to see the scenic exposure towards Fish Lake or the Chadburn Lake road.

It is the most desired light show in the world happening in Yukon in Canada.

A view of northern lights in Yukon at midnight.
Source: Unsplash

7. Dawson City

The most spectacular midnight view of the northern lights can be seen in Dawson City. It is the place where people gather around to watch the midnight sun during the summer months and the northern lights during the winter months.

The city gives awesome views of the Yukon River bank and Klondike Valley.

Ending Note

Watson Lake is a great place for some interesting places and events in Canada. It makes up the northernmost part of Canada.

Compared to the national capital, Ottawa, other cities like Montreal, BC, Vancouver, and Calgary, make up the major metropolitan cities. Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon in Canada, is a small city with a small population.

Watson Lake may be a small metro city in Yukon, but it is quite famous among visitors for its attractions and its northern lights.

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