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Watson Lake Yukon Watson Lake Yukon Watson Lake Yukon Watson Lake Yukon Signpost Forest
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Location: “Gateway to the Yukon” Milepost 635 just inside the Yukon border on the 60th parallel; Junctions of Alaska Highway 1 and Campbell Highway 4, near the junction of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and the B.C. border; 300 miles southeast of Whitehorse. Population: Approximately 1,700. Visitor Information: The Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre in the Watson Lake Recreation Centre; Email: vic.watsonlake@gov.yk.ca. Chamber of Commerce: Watson Lake Chamber, PO Box 591, Watson Lake, YT Y0A 1C0; Phone: (867) 536-8022; Email: wlchamberofcommerce@northwestel.net; Website: www.watsonlakechamber.com.
Watson Lake Yukon


“Watson Lake Wye” began as a humble trading post in the late 1890s and was named after Frank Watson, who trapped and prospected in the area. In l897 at the age of 14, Frank and his father set out for the Yukon in search of gold. Fighting their way through unmapped country, they arrived the following Spring on the upper Liard River to the shores of Fish Lake, named by the native Kaska Indians for its abundance of fish.


When his father returned to California in 1900, Frank stayed behind to work their claims and later married a Kaska woman. The lake retained his name when construction began on the military airport in 1941 and the Alaska Highway, completed in 1942. Former trading posts in the region date back to the early 19th century, but they didn’t endure. It wasn’t until 1887 and the Cassiar Gold Rush, that a new trading post and store was erected at the current site of Lower Post, just south of Watson Lake.

Present day Watson Lake is the key transportation, communications and distribution center for mining and logging activities in southern Yukon, northern BC and a portion of the Northwest Territories.

Watson Lake is well known for its famed collection of signposts started by a homesick soldier while the Alaska Highway was under construction. Through the years, the “Signpost Forest” has grown to over 72,000 signs as tourists from around the world have continued to erect signs from their hometowns.

Located in the Watson Lake Recreation Centre, the Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre is the first stop in the Yukon for northbound travelers. Besides providing visitors with full information about the Yukon, the Centre brings the fascinating history of the Alaska Highway to life, beginning with its construction. A series of photo murals and displays and a three-projector audiovisual presentation dramatizes the entire history in a unique way with sound and visual effects. Stop in and say hello to Rene, Trudy and Lelah! Open 8 AM to 8 PM mid-May to mid-September.

In addition to the Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre, the Recreation Centre features a community hall, squash courts, fitness room, a youth centre, bowling alley, hockey arena and curling club.

The Northern Lights Space and Science Centre is a unique facility featuring the amazing phenomena known as the Aurora Borealis. Boasting state-of-the-art panoramic video and surround-sound systems, the Centre incorporates interactive displays explaining the science and folklore of the Northern Lights as well as the Canadian space program, which played an important part in early aurora research. The spectacular dancing colors are showcased in Yukon’s Northern Lights, a video that is broadcast in the NLC’s domed 100-seat theatre daily throughout the summer season. During the winter season, Watson Lake puts the Northern Lights Centre to good use for community events, space science education and movies.

Visitors will find complete services available in Watson Lake. There are motel/hotels, campgrounds, R.V. parks, restaurants, bakery and library with northern videos. And if cold lakes do not appeal, the indoor heated pool located next to the Community Hall is open all summer. In addition, water fun can be had by all at the Lucky Lake Waterslide Park.

Trout, grayling and northern pike abound in the waters of southern Yukon. The public campground on Watson Lake has a boat launching area where visitors can easily put-in for fine trout fishing, and for the more ardent sports fishermen there are several fly-in fishing lodges a short flight from the community. Several big game outfitters are also headquartered here. Local outfitters offer guided trips for hunting, fishing, photo safaris, horseback rides, and hiking and camping.

The upper reaches of the Liard River created a mini gold rush as early as the 1850s. Today, any sand bar along the river will produce fine gold for the amateur panner. It is advised to check with the mining recorder’s office first.


Yukon Open - Alpine Ski Competition: March
Northern Historical Display: June-August
Kaska Days: June
Canada Day Festivities, Lucky Lake: July 1st
Discovery Days Celebration: mid-August
Arts in the Park & Community Market: June-Sept



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