Frances Lake & Watson Lake

Frances Lake

Accessible only by water or air, in pristine southeast Yukon, Frances Lake is situated at an elevation of 730 metres within the trough of the Tintina Trench, a 1500-kilometre-long rift valley that extends from Prince George (B.C.) via Watson Lake up to Dawson City.

The trench began forming about 65 million years ago, as a result of plate tectonic forces that shape the continents. This caused various minerals to be washed out and accumulated in river sediments, which eventually led to the massive deposit of gold that sparked the famous Klondike Gold Rush at the turn of the last century.

Large-scale geological lines are also important wildlife and plant migration corridors, both for the evolutionary spreading of species in the course of time, as well as for short-term cycles such as the annual bird migration.

The unique combination of geological, topographic and climatic factors mean that Frances Lake — the largest lake in the southeast Yukon — is situated in one of the territory’s most biologically productive regions, resulting in a great diversity of plants and wildlife.

Watson Lake

Watson Lake is located at mile 635 on the Alaska Highway, close to the British Columbia border with a population of just 802 people. The town is named for Frank Watson, an American-born trapper and prospector, who settled in the area at the end of the nineteenth century.

Watson Lake is the first community you reach once the Alaska Highway crosses into the Yukon. It’s a friendly town that’s used to greeting visitors with plenty of services and a variety of attractions.

One such attraction is Sign Post Forest. This iconic Yukon landmark was born when a soldier working on the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942 posted a sign in the direction of his hometown. Over the decades, visitors from all over the world have added their own signs—just one more thing for you to cram into your suitcase.

Across the highway, the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre offers summer travellers the chance to view video of the aurora borealis on a panoramic screen and learn more about this natural phenomenon through interactive displays. Then take to the outdoors and see how many different types of birds you can spot from the Wye Lake boardwalk. Nearby Lucky Lake is a pretty spot for a picnic and a swim. Or head up the highway to the Rancheria Falls Recreation Site and follow the walkway to the waterfalls.

Stop for the services, and stay for the experiences. In Watson Lake, you’ll find plenty of both.

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