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Spotlight: Watson Lake

Get lost in a signpost forest and experience the northern lights like never before

Like many cities in North America, Watson Lake was born out of World War II. In the 1940s, the need for a military airfield in the area, along with the construction of the Alaska Highway to transport troops and military hardware, resulted in the rapid establishment of the small community.

Today, the city of only 1,474 residents just north of the British Columbia border thrives on tourism instead of military traffic. Drivers on the Alaska Highway have come to learn that this town is more than just Mile 635 on the Alaska Highway: it’s a vibrant community with more than its share of adventure and fun.

One of the most popular points of interest in town is the Sign Post Forest, a collection of 72,000 signs from around the world mounted on a series of posts. The forest has its origins in a directional post set up by U.S. Army engineers to orient military drivers. One day, U.S. Army Private Carl K. Lindley felt homesick and posted a sign to his hometown of Danville, Illinois. Lindley unknowingly set off a trend, and to this day, visitors regularly add their own contributions to the vast array of signs.



City of Lights

After adding your own sign, step into the nearby Visitor Center for a series of exhibits about the local area as well as an audiovisual presentation of Watson Lake’s history shown in a 60-seat theater. Equally fascinating is the Northern Lights Space and Science center, which educates visitors about this phenomenon with state-of-the art full dome video and 100 seats. Don’t miss a matinee showing of “Yukon’s Northern Lights,” which simulates the shimmering lights during the summer season. During the winter, the center conducts educational events as visitors watch the real thing shimmering across the night sky.

Throughout the year, visitors can stay active at the Morgan Chaddock Recreation Center, and wintertime visits are highlighted with trips to the Mt. Maichen Ski Hill & Chalet.

Anglers will stay busy at the many surrounding rivers and lakes. Watson Lake teems with trout, Arctic grayling, northern pike, bull trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.

For More Information

Watson Lake
Department of Tourism Yukon