According to local legend, the original settlers wanted to call this place ‘ptarmigan’ after a native fowl, but they couldn’t agree on how to spell it and decided to just call it ‘Chicken’ instead. We saw some ptarmigan with a clutch of half a dozen chicks on our bus ride to Wonder Lake in Denali.
Chicken has a summer population of around 50, and a winter population of 10. Even 10 people seems like a lot, when they only have vault toilets, no telephones and the roads are closed between October and May.
We drove on the Top of the World highway between Chicken and Dawson City, and it really felt as if we were. The road went along the top of a mountain ridge for a lot of the time, with amazing views over both sides to the north and south.
We camped at the Yukon River State Campground, which is across the river from Dawson City. The only access to the other side is by ferry. Lovely campground with 50+ sites for tents, caravans and RVs. We found a nice site almost right on the bank of the mighty Yukon River, and after we’d got all set up, we realised that there was s site across the track that WAS on the river bank. The sheer, high rock face on the other side of the river is home to peregrine falcons who nest there and raise their young, but I couldn’t find any.
Dawson City sounds like something out of the wild west, doesn’t it? And it is! Dirt streets, lots of old-fashioned timber buildings with names like ‘Gerties’ and ‘Kates’ that might have been bordellos in a previous life, and are now restaurants and hotels. Plenty to entertain tourists. We’re heading to Whitehorse today.