Tombstones Territorial Park is an out-and-back backpacking trip on another level entirely. Initially, I wanted to visit because I had seen it named ‘the Patagonia of the North’ - and this motto, despite being a bit silly, definitely rings true. The tundra environment is spectacularly pretty, and the jagged, sheer peaks are impressive, ominous, and jaw-droppingly beautiful all at once.
We visited this remote park, close to the border of Alaska, in the middle of September. It was the perfect time to see entire mountainsides change colour to red, orange, and yellow, though I’ve heard from friends that the Tombstones are stunningly beautiful at basically any time of year. In September, however, it was quite cold, so preparing for snow on the passes, frost on the tent, and temperatures dropping below zero at night was essential.
Be aware that careful preparation for bear safety is critical on this trip.
Trip Completed: September 2021
Starting Point: Tombstone Interpretive Centre (Km 71.5 on Dempster Highway)
Ending Point: Grizzly Lake Trailhead
Total Distance: 43 km (not including the drive from Whitehorse to Tombstones)
Elevation Gain: 2,696 m
Duration: 6 nights
Difficulty: Advanced. This trail is in pretty good shape but does have sections that may be challenging to some hikers - scree, talus, steep sections, dramatic drop-offs, switchbacks, and boulder fields. Hiking poles will be your friend. A ranger we ran into told us it is common for hikers planning to do the entire trail to actually stop or turn back at Grizzly Lake, the first campsite, out of exhaustion, or because they can’t make it up Glissade Pass, a very steep section between Grizzly Lake and Divide Lake, the second campsite. I’d recommend a spell of physical training prior to arriving at the park if you aren’t used to hiking on this type of terrain - for safety but especially because this landscape is worth enjoying as much as possib...
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