Yukon Sights by Sue Thomas

South Canol Road, Alaska Highway to Lapie Lake

The South Canol meanders 220 km (143 miles) from Johnson's Crossing (Alaska Hwy) to Ross River (Campbell Hwy). There are no services. There are two semi-maintained territorial campgrounds and several unmaintained recreation sites.

For additional information about the South Canol Road (external links):

We drove the South Canol south to north in 2007 and then again in 2010. In 2008 we drove the north side from Ross River to Rose River #1 Bridge and then returned north because the bridge was closed. This is one of our favourite routes in the Yukon.

Some years the gas station at Johnsons Crossing, km 1296 on the Alaska Highway, is open, some years it isn't. If it isn't, Teslin is the nearest gas station. We usually fill up at Teslin, then again at Johnsons Crossing if it is open. We also carry extra fuel.

South Canol Road open for season sign
This is an important sign to watch for ... early in the season the road may be closed due to snow - August 2010

Within a few hundred metres of turning onto the South Canol there is an interesting rest area. There are various signs with historical info and also some neat old vehicles scattered about.

The rest area on the South Canol near the Alaska Highway
South Canol rest area with historical information - August 2010

Signs at the start of the South Canol near Alaska Highway
These info signs at the start of the South Canol in August 2010

Indeed, there are no services until Ross River. Carry some extra fuel if needed.

Northbound on the South Canol Road, Yukon
Northbound from the south end of the South Canol Road at km 13 - September 2007

The road is usually good gravel and varies from 2- to 1-lane.

kim 14 on the South Canol Road in Yukon
About km 14 northbound on the South Canol Road - August 2010

Initially the scenery is soothing;  in the fall the colours add emphasis to the sights.

kim 14 on the South Canol Road in Yukon
Meadow Creek alongside the South Canol - August 2010

Marsh along the South Canol Road, Yukon
Meadow Creek on the east side of the South Canol Road at km 14 - September 2007

The landscape is quiet and expansive.

km 29 northbound on the South Canol, Yukon
View from top of hill near km 29 on the South Canol Road, northbound - September 2007

The bridges are usually single-lane with wood decks and usually in good condition. Keep your eyes open for protruding nails or broken planks though.

Evelyn Creek on the South Canol Road, Yukon
Evelyn Creek at km 43 - August 2010

At about km 50 there is a turn-off to the right leading down to Sidney Lake. It was a tight turn around for our fifth wheel, but do-able. It;s a popular spot, so expect others to pull in too.

Sidney Lake on South Canol Road in Yukon
View of Sidney Lake alongside the South Canol Road - August 2010

There are few signs along the road.  However, there were ample places to pull over. 

Lunch stop on South Canol Road, Yukon
Lunch stop at km 50, high above Sidney Lake - September 2007

Quiet Lake Yukon Government campground (km 76) was VERY quiet in 2007 during the week. In 2010, it was busy on the weekend. The campground is maintained; the sites were not well-used.

Campground sign at Quiet Lake, South Canol Road, Yukon
Sign marking the entrance to the Quiet Lake campground on South Canol Road - August 2010

The sites also did not have a view of the lake. In 2007 we camped at the boat launch as the campground was vacant and it was mid-week. In 2010 the campground was busier and the boat launch well-used as it was a weekend.

Quiet Lake on South Canol Road, Yukon
Quiet Lake boat launch and impromptu campsite - September 2007

Quiet Lake is large and can get quite choppy when the wind comes up.

Quiet Lake on South Canol in Yukon
Looking north from the campground, with the boat launch on the right - August 2010

The campground likely gets more use in winter than in summer. 
The picnic shelter had an interesting sign posted on it.

Sign for dog mushers at Quiet Lake campground, South Canol
Sign on the picnic shelter at Quiet Lake campground - August 2010

Quiet Lake is 28-km long and the largest of three lakes that form the headwaters of the Big Salmon River system.  At the Quiet Lake campground there is a boat launch.

Quiet Lake boat launch on the South Canol Road, Yukon
Boat launch at Quiet Lake campground - September 2007

Quiet Lake on the South Canol Road in Yukon
Looking southward from the Quiet Lake campground boat launch - August 2010

Quiet Lake on the South Canol Road in Yukon
Northward view of Quiet Lake with the concrete boat launch on the right - August 2010

The Canol Road follows the east shore of Quiet Lake for numerous miles northbound.
There is a lovely viewpoint of the lake at about km 90, with this info sign.

South Canol Road & Quiet Lake sign
Info sign about Quiet Lake on the South Canol Road - August 2010

The campground/recreation site near km 98 at the north end of Quiet Lake has lakeside camping for smaller RVs.  Our 43' long RV (truck and fifth wheel) would have fit into a couple of the spots but not many.  The site is also exposed to the wind so would be chilly on windy, overcast days.

The Quiet Lake Maintenance Camp is literally just around the corner from the recreation site.  There are some historical vehicles here too.

Quiet Lake Maintenance Camp on South Canol
Will it tow a fifth wheel? - August 2010

Steve was determined to see if he could get the truck going ...

Quiet Lake Maintenance Camp on South Canol in Yukon
Old highway maintenance equipment at the Quiet Lake maintenance yard - August 2010

In 2008 the bridge pictured below was washed out.  That year we drove from Ross River to the bridge, just for something to do, and then drove out again towards Ross River. 

Rose River on South Canol in Yukon
Rose River bridge on the South Canol - August 2010

It would be possible to camp overnight at this river crossing.

Rose River on South Canol in Yukon
Northbound on the South Canol Road north of Quiet Lake - August 2010

The Rose River meanders back and forth.  Find a good spot for grayling fishing!

Rose River on South Canol in Yukon
Rose River meandering beside our campsite on the South Canol Road

The north half of the South Canol is a favorite drive of mine.

km 139 South Canol Road in Yukon
km 139 on the South Canol Road in Yukon - August 2010

We stopped at Rose River #5 to take a look at the side roads.

km 150 South Canol Road in Yukon
The Rose River crosses the South Canol in many places.  This is crossing #5 - August 2010

It would have been possible to camp at Rose River #5 crossing.  It is now waypointed in the GPS as a good spot to camp if Lapie Lake is occupied.

Upper Sheep Creek at km 152 on the South Canol Road in Yukon
Upper Sheep Creek at km 152 looking to the east - August 2010

The valley with the Lapie Lakes and Rose Lake is lovely on a clear day!

km 153 South Canol Road in Yukon
km 153 northbound on the South Canol - August 2010

At km 156 there is a side road leading eastward to Rose Lake. A few hundred metres in there was a large open area with camp spots and some picnic tables.  The truck and fifth wheel could get to this spot but it wasn't lakeside and didn't have lake views.

Rather than drive, we decided to continue down the road on foot. Good thing! It was very rough, narrow and steep.  The rough road leads to the lakeshore and a couple of open campsites with lake access. There was a truck & camper there but I wouldn't recommend trying it unless you're in a 4x4.

Rose Lake on the South Canol Road in Yukon
Rose Lake - look closely to see the kayakers on the left side of the image - August 2010

Back on the South Canol Road, the view south from the Rose Lake turnoff is lovely.

km 156 on the South Canol Road in Yukon
Looking towards the south from our stop at Rose Lake - km 156 on the South Canol - August 2010

Continuing northbound, the Lapie Lake recreation site is just a few miles north.

Lapie Lake on the South Cano Roadl in Yukon
Looking southward at the Lapie Lakes on the South Canol - August 2010

Next page - Lapie Lake to Ross River