We drove the whole Campbell Highway in 1996 and 2008, and portions of it in 2007 and 2010.
There are very limited services along the Campbell Highway. Be prepared to take care of yourself if you choose to drive this route.
In 2010, the only available fuel was in Ross River and on occasion they run out of fuel, which can mean waiting days for a delivery truck.
In 2011, I understand Faro has a credit card only and self-serve fuel facility.
There was also extensive construction underway in 2008 between Watson Lake and Frances Lake. This construction continued in 2010, although I understand the highway was not so bad in 2010.
At Watson Lake, near the sign forest, the Campbell Highway heads north to
Ross River, Faro and Carmacks.
At km 81 (mile 50), the Simpson Lake Yukon Gov't campground is a pleasant stop.
The Nahanni Range Road heads east from the Campbell Highway at km 108
(mile 67). Conditions on the Nahanni Range Road vary year-to-year and if you plan
driving this route, check at the Watson Lake visitors centre for up-to-date info.
In July 2008, the rest area above and the junction with the Nahanni Range Road
were unrecognizable due to the major re-construction of the Campbell Highway.
Frances Lake Yukon Gov't campground, 171 km (107 miles) north of Watson Lake is
a popular spot in the fall with fisherman and hunters. It is also very popular with
mosquitoes and flies in the spring!
The South Canol Road intersects with the Campbell Highway a few miles south of
The only gas station along the Campbell Highway in 2008 was in Ross River, 370
(230 miles) from Watson Lake. The gas station had run out of unleaded gasoline when we were there in 2008, but had diesel. It is wise to carry fuel with you, in case there is none available in Ross River.
There are no commercial campgrounds in Ross River. There is the Lapie Canyon Yukon government campground just a few miles north of Ross River on the Campbell Highway. We have had an enjoyable stay there several times.
At km 414 is the turn-off to the town of Faro.
About 400 people continue to reside in Faro. The town is well-maintained
provides some services to travelers.
Faro operates a pleasant municipal campground, the only "commercial" facility along the highway. In 2011 a credit-card-only gas pump opened in Faro to replace the gas station that burned to the ground years before.
The Faro mine began production in 1969 and was Canada's largest lead-zinc mine. After several openings and closings, the mine closed a final time in 1997. The site is now undergoing reclamation, with a total estimated cost of between $500 million and $1 billion during the next few decades.
The abandoned mine includes three large open pits, a massive tailings area, and
several waste rock dump sites. Experts say that water treatment will be required for
at least 500 years. The Faro mine began production in 1969, and was the sweetheart
of the Yukon economy through the 1970s as Canada’s largest lead-zinc mine. The
first in a series of closures came in 1982 amid an economic recession.
Back on the Campbell Highway, driving north towards Carmacks we were both glad to encounter the paved highway again!
There is a turn-off to Frenchman Lake at about km 543. Along the Frenchman-Tatchun Lake Road there are three Yukon gov't campgrounds. The gravel road is 46 km long and exits on the Klondike Highway.
At km 555 is a sign marking the location of the "Columbian
Disaster". According to the September 26, 1906 edition of the
Dawson Daily News, "The explosion blew out the
sides of the vessel, scattered men and cargo in the water, and in
less than five minutes had involved the whole inside of the ship in
a mass of seething flame."
The Campbell Highway ends at km 582 (362 miles), near the village of Carmacks, on the Klondike Highway.