To the End of The Road

There is only so much road to explore and we explored most of it.

Dangerous River
The Dangerous River bridge at the end of the road.

Yakutat, like so many Alaskan communities is accessed only by sea or by air. Not to say there are no roads, they just do not go anywhere else, much less connect to the road network that crosses the continent.

In the case of Yakutat the furthest you can get from town is about 26 miles as the crow flies taking the road to Dangerous River and Harlequin Lake. This road is a well maintianed gravel road heavily used to access popular fly fishing rivers and hunting areas, as well as by loggers harvesting the local hemlock and sitka spruce.

Upper Situk Crossing
Anglers fish for salmon below the bridge at the upper Situk River crossing.

The most popular desination along Dangerous River Road is the Situk River. This river is a world class flyfishing stream on the bucket list of anglers worldwide. You can either flyfish in the upper reaches from the road, or fish from a driftboat in an all day run down the river to the ocean where another road allows return to town. In the middle there is beautiful wilderness and fish to catch.

The Road to Dangerous River
The Road to Dangerous River

The road between the upper Situk River cossing and Antlen River is straight, impressively straight. It cuts across the forest and swampy meadows for fifteen miles without deviation, a slot through the trees as far as the eye can see in both directions.

Driving this straight road for miles is a bit mind numbing, the only distraction is dodging the potholes or the many piles of moose shit in the road, both of which could be seen as dark pathces on the light gravel well ahead.

We did see a couple moose cross the road ahead of us. Two moose, crossing the road at the same time, in the same place, in opposite directions! Huh?! We got a better view of one in the brush along the road when we stopped.

We stopped multiple times along the way, pausing to take photos, fly the drone, or to look for salmon in the rivers and streams. We had a few hours to kill before dinner, no reason to hurry, we were out exploring, not commuting.

Muskeg Pond
A pond in muskeg near Yakutat, Alaska

At one point I spotted a pretty little pond beside the road, a moss covered fallen tree looming over it… Photo stop! Not wanting to stop too quickly on a gravel road it I took a fair ways to stop from 40mph. Given the complete lack of trafiic on a road that was straight for miles I simply put it in reverse and drove the hundred yards backwards to the pond.

A beaver swims in his pond near Yakutat. Alaska

A few photos later I turned and climbed the bank back up to the road. Expecting my patient brother to be waiting I was surprised to see him waving and yelling “Beaver!” Yes, unnoticed by me a beaver was swimming right were I had been. A bold fellow, he swam around his pond with little fear giving me one of the best views I had ever seen of a beaver in the wild.

Once across the Dangerous River bridge you are at the end of the road, literally, there is just room enough to turn around and drive back across the bridge.

Icebergs on Harlequin Lake
Icebergs on Harlequin Lake

My brother and I went a bit further, hiking the short trail to the shore of Harlequin Lake. A muddy, beautiful trail through the woods with only a few grizzly prints along the way. From the lakeshore we marvelled at the large bergs beached in the shallow water and listened to the thunderous roar of an even larger iceberg breaking up out in the lake.

The end of the road, just turn around and head back to town, and to dinner at the lodge, after a few more stops along the way.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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