Watson Lake

Watson Lake Locator map

Population: 1,563

Watson Lake is located at Historic Milepost 635, at the junction of the Alaska and Campbell highways, 275 miles southeast of Whitehorse and 330 miles northwest of Fort Nelson, BC.

Visitor Information: Town of Watson Lake Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre (behind Signpost Forest); phone (867) 536-8000.

Originally known as Fish Lake, Watson Lake was renamed for Frank Watson, who settled here in 1898 with his wife, Adela Stone, of Kaska First Nations heritage. Watson Lake was an important point during construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942. The airport, built in 1941, was one of the major refueling stops along the Northwest Staging Route.Today, the economy of Watson Lake is based on services to mining exploration and on the forest products industry. Watson Lake is also an important service stop on the Alaska and Campbell highways.

Watson Lake offers lodging at several hotels/motels and bed-and-breakfasts: AIr Force Lodge, Big Horn Hotel, Cedar Lodge Motel and Cozy Nest B&B. Dining at Kathy's Kitchen. Gas stations with unleaded, diesel and propane, automotive and tire repair. Hougen's Department Store offers sporting goods, souvenirs and an eclectic selection of items. Grocery and hardware stores. There is a bank, library and post office. Camping in Watson Lake at Downtown R.V. Park (email), Campground Services and Watson Lake Yukon Recreation Park campground.

Watson Lake Map
Click on map to view detailed PDF

Attractions:
  • The Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre (behind the Signpost Forest) offers a video on Yukon history and the Alaska Highway. Excellent slide presentation and displays, including photographs taken in the mid-1940s showing the construction of the Alaska Highway in this area.
  • Northern Lights Centre is the only planetarium in North America featuring the myth and science of the northern lights. 
  • The famous Watson Lake Signpost Forest (see slide show) was started by Carl K. Lindley (1919–2002) of Danville, IL, a U.S. Army soldier in Company D, 341st Engineers, working on the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942. Travelers are still adding signs to the collection.    
  • Wye Lake Park picnic area and nature trail.
  • St. John the Baptist Anglican Church has a memorial stained-glass window designed by Yukon artist Kathy Spalding.
  • Lucky Lake, 4 miles southeast of town, is a popular local swimming hole with a picnic area and hiking trail to the Liard River.  
  • Watson Lake Airport Terminal, built in 1942, is a designated Heritage Building. Excellent display of historical photographs depicting the rich aviation history of this area.
  • Drive the Campbell Highway to Simpson Lake, Ross River and Faro.

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