Written by Brock Butterfield @brockbutterfield
I’ve been lucky enough to make the long haul to Alaska almost every spring and driving through the Yukon is some of the most remote and beautiful terrain I’ve witnessed so far. With beauty comes the consequences and if you’re not prepared there’s hardly anyone out there to help you.
Here are four important items I’ve learned to bring in order to prepare for the journey.
1. Extra serpentine belt - In the four times I’ve driven through the Yukon I’ve experienced two serpentine belts go out and they always seem to go out when it’s dark, cold and there’s mysterious noises coming from the thick woods on both sides of the road. Having a spare for your vehicle is crucial as your serpentine belt is what keeps your engine cool, provides power steering and a few other key items. Any auto parts store can pull the right belt for your vehicle by the year, make and model. Auto part stores are extremely rare in the Yukon except for Whitehorse so grab one before you start the adventure.
2. Good spare tire - A donut would do you in a pinch in the city but when most gas stations (which don’t usually stock all types of tires) are about 300 miles apart, that donut would serve better as a form of entertainment as you wait for the next person to drive by and give you a ride. Make sure you have a good tire with good tread to get you to the next town or major city where you can find a Canadian Tire. Along with that make sure you have a good jack and the basic tools to change a tire. The roads are somewhat maintained but rocks and debris always seem to find their way to the blind corners.
3. Five gallon gas can - As mentioned, when you start to get deep into upper BC and the Yukon you’ll notice that you only see a gas pump every 300 or so miles. Best rule of thumb is if you see a gas station and you’re around half full, pull over and fill up. Another thing we learned is that the majority of pumps are the old school ones where a person inside the store has to turn the pump on for you before they’ll work. This makes driving anytime after 5PM tricky as most if not all gas stations are closed after 5 and there’s not way to pay with a credit card.
4. Emergency supplies - Extra food, water, Grand Trunk packable travel blanket and packable travel pillow will make things much easier on you if you find yourself stranded and waiting for the next person to drive by. We’ve heard that if you pack an extra bottle of liquor that’s a great trade for a local to give you a tow or ride to town as it’s fairly dry up there. Just be careful not to drink all the liquor with your new tow truck driver as you might be gripping your seat the rest of the drive.