Who can pass up a chance to visit towns with names like Chicken and Eagle? Starting in Tok, the great crossroads of Alaska's Interior, this four-day itinerary showcases historic buildings, gold mining history, and the independent personality that makes Alaska's small communities such a joy.
Day 1 Tok
For RVers or those who rent a car while in Alaska, Tok is a crossroads. Sitting just 93 miles from the Canadian border, it's the first major community that most drivers encounter as they enter the state, or the last community they see as they leave. To get your bearings, pay a visit to the Mainstreet Visitors Center, a massive, 7,000-square-foot lodge said to be Alaska’s largest log structure. Tok is known as a dog mushing town, so you’re likely to be pointed toward a mushing-related tour; but for anglers or bird watchers, the area is also prime territory. The nearby Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 100 species of birds during the summer. Spend the night at one of several local hotels, motels or lodges.
Day 2 Chicken
From Tok, take the Alaska Highway east to Tetlin Junction, where you’ll turn north onto the Taylor Highway for the trip to Chicken—about two hours of driving in total. The Taylor Highway is a seasonal road open only during the summer, and is only partially paved—but most of the 80-mile trip from Tok to Chicken is on pavement. This tiny town takes pride in its gold mining heritage, with lots of spunk and backwoods charm to spare. While there, you can try your hand at panning for gold, tour a historic gold dredge, or visit an actual working gold mine. Cabins are available for rent and RV parking is available.
Day 3 Eagle
From Chicken, it's just another 95 miles of driving to one of Alaska's oldest towns, Eagle; but the drive usually takes at least three hours, thanks to the rough road. Don’t be daunted! Take your time and enjoy the magnificent, open scenery of the Fortymile Country made famous by Jack London. It was assumed that Eagle, which officially incorporated in 1901, would become the headquarters of the Interior region—but the bulk of the population was lured away by gold strikes in Nome and Fairbanks. Today, only a couple hundred steadfast locals live in Eagle year-round. However, many historic buildings and interesting relics of the past remain here, and the active Eagle Historical Society takes loving care of the community’s assets.
Take a historic walking tour of town and visit Fort Egbert, established during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1899 as the U.S. Army Headquarters for the District of Alaska, or arrange for a scenic rafting trip along the Yukon or Charley rivers in Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve. The mighty Yukon River rolls right past town, and nothing matches the serenity of sitting on a bench along the riverbank watching bald eagles (for which the town was named) scoop fish out of the water.
Stay overnight at a campground or local hotel.
Day 4 and onward Eagle to Tok
Stay a day or two in Eagle and then return back the way you came, or consider making an enormous loop through the Yukon Territory, then back to Alaska. It takes an epic 860 miles, or at least four days of driving if you leave a little time for sightseeing, to get through the Yukon Territory and back to Tok.