Taylor Highway

The Taylor Highway (Hwy #5) is open seasonally from April to mid-October. Conditions of the road can range anywhere between good to poor and depend heavily on weather and maintenance. Keep in mind that there are very limited services or facilities available along the road on the way to Eagle.

Taylor Highway is a route through gold mining history. Gold was discovered here as early as 1881, and discoveries in 1887 and 1888 lead to interior Alaska's first gold rush. Mining settlements like Jack Wade, Chicken, and Franklin were established practically overnight. Walking trails were quickly forged by men traveling between nearby Eagle and the new mining settlements. These paths eventually became wagon roads, and then Taylor Highway in 1951. Originally called the Fortymile Road, the name was later changed to the Taylor Highway in honor of Ike Taylor, Alaska Road Commission (ARC) president from 1932 to 1948.

The Taylor Highway was built to provide access to Eagle, Chicken, and the historic Fortymile Mining District. It connects to the Top of the World Highway 96 miles (154 km) from Tetlin, at Jack Wade Junction, allowing road access to Dawson City, Yukon during the summer months. Most of the original cabins and buildings along the highway are gone, however there are still quite a few active mines proving that the dream of gold is still alive in Alaska.

The first 60 miles of the Taylor Highway are paved as are the first 10 miles of the Top of the World Highway; the remaining sections are gravel. Not all rental vehicles are allowed on this road, so check with your rental agency before you travel. Or, rent from a company that allows their vehicle on gravel roads, like Alaska 4x4 Rentals.

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Highway Guide

Here you can see what remains of the old Fortymile Road­house. In 1959, the Fortymile Road­house served Alas­ka High­way trav­el­ers who were head­ing up the new Forty-mile and Eagle High­way, now the Tay­lor High­way, which was still under con­struc­tion with only about 20 miles of road fin­ished. The road­house offered cab­ins, meals, a gro­cery store and a garage with gas and oil. The road­house closed in 1985.

Tay­lor High­way (Hwy 5) is open sea­son­al­ly from April to mid-Octo­ber. Con­di­tions of the road can range any­where between good to poor and depend heav­i­ly on weath­er and main­te­nance. Keep in mind that there are very lim­it­ed ser­vices or facil­i­ties avail­able along the road past Eagle.

At Mile­post .7 of Tay­lor High­way you will notice dark gray sand dunes on either sides of the road. These were cre­at­ed over 10,000 years ago when strong winds car­ried loose sed­i­ments from the plains of the Tanana Riv­er and piled them against these low mountains.

You will notice evi­dence of fire dam­age from the Tay­lor Com­plex Fires, which burned 1.3 mil­lion acres. The fires closed the Tay­lor High­way for sev­er­al days in the sum­mer of 2004. Wild­fires are com­mon in Alas­ka from April or May through the sum­mer months, depend­ing on rain­fall. Light­ning is the most com­mon cause of wild­fire. The total num­ber of fires in 2004 was 707, which is not unusu­al­ly high for a very hot dry year. What is unusu­al is the…  ...more

At Mile­post 14 of Tay­lor High­way you will be able to enjoy a beau­ti­ful view of Mount Fairplay. 

At Mile­post 21 of Tay­lor High­way, you can stop and read about the life cycle of cari­bou and the fall and rise of the Fortymile herd. 

Watch for the Fortymile cari­bou herd in this area. Here you’ll find a pull­out with three infor­ma­tion pan­els about the Fortymile region, Mount Fair­play, the Tay­lor High­way, and the Fortymile cari­bou herd. The Fortymile area is home range to this cari­bou herd, once a mas­sive herd of 500,000 ani­mals, the herd declined to a low of 6,000 in the mid-1970s. A 4‑year recov­ery effort by the Alas­ka Depart­ment of Fish and Game using wolf control…  ...more

At Mile­post 34 of Tay­lor High­way you are able to com­pare the gen­tly round­ed ridges of the Yukon-Tanana Uplands, that were to nev­er cov­ered in ice, to the rugged, glaciat­ed Alas­ka Range in the distance. 

At Mile­post 43 of Tay­lor High­way, there is a nice pinic area over­look­ing the creek. 

At Mile­post 49, there is a camp­ground with plen­ty of park­ing spaces avail­ble for cars and RVs. From the scenic over­look on the upper­road you can spot trum­peter swans and moose in the small lake below. This riv­er access point is the south­ern­most access point on the 400-mile Fortymile Nation­al Wild and Scenic Riv­er System. 

Here’s a great place to overnight, or just take a rest. Head out to the over­look and watch for trum­peter swans and moose on the small lake.

From the West Fork Bridge you can do a 4 to 5 day 75-mile run to the Obrien Creek Bridge at mile 112.4, with only up to Class III rapids.

Here you’ll find a view­ing plat­form with excel­lent views of Mount Fair­play. Take the small root cov­ered trail that leads to anoth­er view­point. This is the entrance to Fortymile Min­ing Dis­trict. The sec­ond-old­est min­ing dis­trict in Alas­ka, it first pro­duced gold in 1886. Claims were filed in both Alas­ka and Cana­da because of bound­ary uncertainties.

Chick­en (pop. 21 in sum­mer, 6 in win­ter). This lit­tle gold min­ing town was estab­lished around 1898 and there has been min­ing in this area ever since. In 1902, this area was to be the sec­ond Alas­ka town to be incor­po­rat­ed. The res­i­dents decid­ed to call their home Ptarmi­gan, the only prob­lem was that no one could decide on the cor­rect spelling. They did­n’t want to be the butt of jokes, so the res­i­dents decid­ed to name the town Chick­en. From the…  ...more

Camp­ground, RV Park, and Cab­in Rentals. On-site restau­rant, gift store, his­toric gold dredge and muse­um, gold mine tours, recre­ation­al min­ing and gold panning.

This dredge is locat­ed at Chick­en Gold Camp and Out­post. The dredge mined on Pedro Creek just out­side of Fair­banks from 1938 until 1959 before it was moved to Chick­en Creek and oper­at­ed between 1959 and 1967. Mike Bus­by and Bernie Karl pur­chased the dredge and moved it and oth­er min­ing equip­ment down to Chick­en in 1998 as a tourist attrac­tion. It was put on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 2006.

Café serv­ing home­made break­fasts, soups, sand­wich­es, and more

At Mile­post 67 Tay­lor High­way you will find the Chick­en Creek Bridge. This is the site of a dredge that was oper­at­ed by the Fair­banks Explo­ration Com­pa­ny from 1959 until 1965. In an aver­age run of the dredge, it was oper­at­ing 24 hours a day for 2 weeks. At it’s peak, one run would bring in $40,000 in gold. 

Camp­ground & RV Park with 30 elec­tric sites and 70 dry sites 

At Mile­post 68 Tay­lor High­way you pull off and enjoy this easy, 1.5 mile hike to an over­look above the remains of Mos­qui­to Fork Dredge. This dredge was shut down in 1938 after oper­at­ing for less than 2 seasons. 

Difficulty: Easy

A short 1.5‑mile hike will lead you to an over­look above what remains of the Mos­qui­to Fork Dredge, which was used as part of the Lost Chick­en Hill Mine. This dredge was shut down in 1938 after oper­at­ing for only two seasons.

At Mile­post 69 you will arrive at the Lost Chick­en Hill Mine, which was estab­lished in 1895. It got its name because it held a pay streak that had been lost” for many years. The area has min­ing his­to­ry that began before the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 – 98. It is now pri­vate­ly owned and mined.

At Mile­post 75 Tay­lor High­way you can pull off and read the inter­pre­tive pan­els to learn more about the Fortymile gold rush. 

This area was once the site of the Lassen airstrip. In the 1930s and 40s, air ser­vice flew sup­plies into the area. Before this, the only way to get fuel and oth­er sup­plies to the min­ing camps was by sled­ding them up-riv­er dur­ing the winter.

Here is the for­mer site of the Jack Wade Dredge. This was a pop­u­lar attrac­tion and pho­to sub­ject for high­way trav­el­ers for many years. The dredge was dis­man­tled and scraped by the BLM in 2007. BLM offi­cials said that the dete­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tion of the old dredge was a safe­ty haz­ard. T

Whether you’re trav­el­ing the Tay­lor to the Top of the World High­way and Daw­son City, or into Alas­ka from Daw­son City, do take this diver­sion into the Yukon Riv­er vil­lage of Eagle. 

Here, you are 64 miles south of the his­toric town of Eagle, and 14 miles west of Cana­da and Daw­son City. If it is a clear day you will be able to see Canada’s Ogilvie Moun­tains in the north­east. From here to Eagle the road becomes very nar­row and more dan­ger­ous for large trail­ers and over­sized vehicles. 

Here, Tay­lor High­way begins to descend into the val­ley of the Fortymile Riv­er. You will be able to see the intri­cate­ly fold­ed meta­mor­phic rocks exposed by the road cut. Keep an eye out for white mar­ble, quartzite, gneiss, and schist. 

You may not be able to see the geo­log­ic fault zone that cross­es the high­way at this point, but you will notice a change in the topog­ra­phy over the next few miles. North of this fault are many land­slides and very few cliffs.

Camp­ground with 18 camp­sites. With­in walk­ing dis­tance of vil­lage of Eagle. 

Eagle (pop. 115). The town of Eagle has been incor­po­rat­ed since 1897 after the U.S. Army respond­ed to the need for law and order dur­ing the Klondike Gold Rush. The Army built Fort Egbert in 1899; it is now a Nation­al His­toric Land­mark. Explore this his­toric site on your own or take a walk­ing tour offered dai­ly by the Eagle His­tor­i­cal Society.

Exhibits in six restored his­toric build­ings dat­ing from the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry: James Wick­er­sham’s first Cour­t­house, U.S. Cus­tom House, the Improved Order of Red Men Lodge and three Fort Egbert build­ings, all with peri­od fur­nish­ings. Dis­plays with pho­tographs on the Gold Rush town, mil­i­tary fort and com­mer­cial cen­ter with judi­cial, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion, con­struc­tion, agri­cul­ture, min­ing, pio­neer activ­i­ties and social…  ...more

This is BLM head­quar­ters for the Tay­lor High­way area. 

The name isn’t com­plete­ly arbi­trary – For most of the ride you dri­ve along the peaks and crests of moun­tains and hills, leav­ing you a view of the val­leys below. Though only open in the sum­mer months, this 79 mile grav­el-road has some spec­tac­u­lar views of the Alas­ka Range, and can take you on your way to Daw­son City in the Yukon.

From the Mos­qui­to Fork Bridge you can do a 3 to 4 day, 50-mile run to Obrien Creek Bridge at mile 112.4 but high water is need­ed to get you down the Mos­qui­to Fork. This is also only a Class II to III sec­tion through the main min­ing dis­trict of Chick­en. You could con­tin­ue from either start past the Obrien Creek con­flu­ence and com­mit to going all the way down the Fortymile, through the Class IV Canyon Rapids to the Yukon and on down it to Eagle…  ...more