Much of our transcontinental road trip from New Hampshire to our new home in Alaska is a blur now, but I did my best to keep my camera out and shooting as we went. For many, traveling the AlCan Highway is a bucket list item. We’re so lucky to have been able to do it now and with kids at their ages. My mom actually also did the trip from Washington with us, and it’s become kind of our thing. She’s always encouraged me to explore at every opportunity, so when I mentioned visiting Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake, Yukon, she was all in.
All About Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake
You’ve probably never heard of Watson Lake; let’s be honest. And, if you have, you more than likely actually know about Sign Post Forest because it’s pretty much the most famous thing in that entire little town. To be fair though, it’s also one of the most famous landmarks on the entire AlCan Highway. Remember the photo we took under the Alaska-Canada Highway sign in Dawson Creek? Yeah. This is right up there with that.
Sign Post Forest actually has a rich history of its own. It was created in 1942 by a homesick GI, Private Carl K. Lindley. The original sign was in the vicinity was damaged by a bulldozer, and he was ordered to repair it. So, he did, and he added a sign pointing to his hometown of Danville, IL, and put the distance to it. His actions had a trickle-down effect, and several others in the 341st Engineers did the same, adding their own directions and homage to their hometowns.
What Sign Post Forest is Like Today
From its humble roots, Sign Post Forest now spans over a full acre, and new markers, placards, license plates, hats, and more are added each day. It’s a veritable maze and, though it doesn’t look like much from the road as you travel through Watson Lake, the enormity of it takes root the second you stand in front of it – or beside it – because, honestly, there’s no real entrance to it today. There are many.
We wandered around it for a good hour, but we could have spent far more time. There was simply so much to see. We saw license plates from New Hampshire and Utah, stickers from across the US, and even international plates. We found messages in Italian, German, French, and Arabic. It was fascinating to see this grassroots initiative that has truly become an international landmark for travelers across the globe. My favorite marker? The cast iron pan. It was so unique!
Tips for Visiting Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake, Yukon
Address: Mile 635, Alaska Hwy, Watson Lake, YT, Canada — Ultimately, if you’re driving the AlCan, you’ll know what this address means. You’re just gauging my mile markers. You can also just input “Watson Lake, YT” because it’s a roadside attraction you can’t miss.
Hours: This is a completely free 24/7 attraction. Wander through at your leisure! We went at about 10 PM, and the sun was shining brightly!
Parking: There is a small strip mall immediately adjacent to it, but plenty people just park at their individual hotels. We stayed down the street at Big Horn Hotel, and we just walked the .35 miles to get there.
Tips & Recommendations: If leaving your mark, bring something distinctive, and bring something to hang or mount it! We absolutely failed in this regard. We weren’t prepared, but we definitely plan to do the trip again and make up for it next time!