"Gateway to the Yukon" milepost 635 just inside the Yukon border on the 60th parallel; Junctions of Alaska Highway 1 and Campbell Highway 4, near the junction of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and the B.C. border. 300 miles east of Whitehorse. Population: Approximately 1,700. Elevation: 695 metres. Visitor Information: Interpretive Centre behind the Signpost Forest on the Alaska Highway, where the Campbell Highway branches off.
Watson Lake, originally called "Watson Lake Wye," began as a humble trading post in the late 1890s and was named after Frank Watson who trapped and prospected in the area. Francis (Frank) Watson was born in 1883 in Tahoe City, Placer County, California and died in 1938 in Fort Saint John, B.C. In l897, at the age of 14, Frank and his father set out for the Yukon in search of gold.
Trout, grayling and northern pike abound in the waters of southern Yukon. The new public campground on Watson Lake has a boat launching area where visitors can easily put-in for fine trout fishing; and for the more ardent sports fishermen, there are several fly-in fishing lodges a short flight from the community. Several big game outfitters are also headquartered here. Local outfitters offer guided trips for hunting, fishing, photo safaris, horseback rides and hiking and camping.
Watson Lake is well known for its famed collection of signposts started by a homesick soldier while the Alaska Highway was under construction. Through the years, the "Signpost Forest" has grown as tourists from around the world have continued to erect signs from their home towns. Watson Lake’s Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre is the first stop in the Yukon for northbound travelers. Besides providing visitors with full information about the Yukon, the Centre interprets the fascinating history of the Alaska Highway, beginning with its construction. A series of photo murals and displays and a three projector audiovisual presentation dramatizes the entire history in a unique way with sound and visual effects.
The Northern Lights Centre features exciting multi-media northern light shows inside a 100 seat Electric Sky theatre environment, and interactive exhibits explore the mystery of the Aurora Borealis.