The area where the Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska meet is home to one of the world’s great sledding destinations. Commonly known as the Haines Summit, people travel from all over to enjoy backcountry snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding through the seemingly endless powder.
The Haines Summit area is easily accessible by road just a few hours out from Whitehorse, first northwest on the Alaska Highway to the beautiful village of Haines Junction, and then southwest into the mountains on the Haines Highway. Once at the summit self-sufficiency is required, as there is little signage and no services at the summit.
Before heading to the Summit, the Klondike Snowmobile Association recommends that all back country users follow proper safety guidelines, bring the appropriate supplies and equipment, and visit www.yukonavalanche.ca to get the latest avalanche information. Up-to-date avalanche training and carrying proper avalanche equipment at all times is considered essential for all snowmobilers riding in the Haines Summit area.
Also please note during popular times such as spring break and easter weekend B.C. Parks and the R.C.M.P. often visit the Haines Summit area with an eye to public safety. They are not there to harass snowmobilers, but merely to ensure everyone is playing safe. A related consideration is although the Yukon Territory does not require registration or insurance for snowmobiles that are solely operated in the backcountry, British Columbia does and most of the riding areas in the Haines summit area are in British Columbia.
One of the goals of this page is to be a step toward better managing snowmobile use in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park and surrounding areas. The Klondike Snowmobile Association is committed to working with B.C. Parks and other agencies to ensure that safe and appropriate snowmobile use is a sustainable form of winter recreation in the park.
Where can you ride in the park?
Snowmobile use is only allowed in a specified area within the park. The specified area is in the park’s Natural Environment Zone, one of two management zones within the park. The other zone in the park is called the Wilderness Recreation Zone. The objective of the Natural Environment Zone is to provide a limited number of entry points along the Haines Highway where snowmobile use is permitted.
Generally the use of snowmobiles in Provincial Parks is prohibited. B.C. Parks has generously allowed for this activity to continue in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park providing it is contained within the Natural Environment Zone and does not negatively impact conservation values. However, if this objective cannot be achieved, B.C. Parks will have no choice other than to consider a complete closure to the use of snowmobiles in the park. With this in mind we ask all snowmobilers to please respect the environment and all other back country users, so we can look forward to many more seasons of everyone enjoying the area.
Additional considerations and advice:
- Be respectful of others – Snowmobiles can present a danger to other park visitors, especially backcountry skiers and snowboarders, so please share the area respectfully.
- Slow it down – Maintain speeds that are responsible and practical for the conditions, especially at night or in flat light.
- Spread the word – B.C. Parks, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the Klondike Snowmobile Association urge you to make sure your fellow snowmobile enthusiasts are aware of responsible and appropriate snowmobile use in the park.
- Always ride sober – Snowmobiling in the mountains can be great fun, but requires full attention and quick reactions to avoid dangerous situations, so always encourage your group to practice zero tolerance on drugs and alcohol while riding.
- Respect the environment – In such a harsh climate, life is fragile. Please minimize environmental damage, leave the wildlife alone, and leave tracks not trash.
- Maintain your sled – Well maintained modern snowmobiles are safer, more reliable, better for the environment, and offer better performance.
- Be prepared for extreme and fast changing weather conditions.
- Always carry some basic supplies and equipment in case of a break down or injury.
- Always be avalanche aware and prepared, and don’t bring anyone who isn’t.
- Learn how to quickly identify high risk avalanche areas, and check snow conditions regularly.
- Always carry proper avalanche gear, and know how to use it. Practice with your equipment regularly so you’re comfortable with it and can put it to work quickly and efficiently when needed.
- There are no services and no cell phone service in most of the Haines Summit area, so plan your trip and pack accordingly.
- Check road conditions before you head out, during winter months the highway south of Haines Junction is sometimes closed due to adverse weather or extreme snow conditions.
Avalanche awareness, current avalanche training, and proper avalanche equipment is essential for snowmobiling in most areas of the Haines Summit. For more information please check out our Avalanche page or visit the Avalanche Canada website at http://www.avalanche.ca/
For more information please contact:
Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection
Environmental Stewardship Division
Parks and Protected Areas
Skeena Regional Operations
3726 Alfred Avenue
Canada V0J 2N0
Phone: (250) 847 7320
Fax: (250) 847 7728
Klondike Snowmobile Association
4061 4th Ave
Canada Y1A 1H1
Phone: (867) 667 7680
Canadian Avalanche Association
Tatshenshini – Alsek Park snowmobile maps and brochures… http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/tatshens/index.html#maps
The use of snowmobiles in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park has increased significantly over the last several years. During this time B.C. Parks and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations have taken steps to provide winter recreation opportunities for those wishing to ride snowmobiles in this magnificent corner of British Columbia. At the same time, B.C. Parks is committed to protecting the natural environment and preserving wildlife species and their habitat.
Recent studies indicate that snowmobile activity does affect a wide variety of animals, often resulting in behavior alterations, habitat avoidance, and energy expenditures at critical times when animals are under extreme stress due to winter hardships. By respecting wildlife you encounter while riding in the park, you will help preserve the long-standing value this area provides for wildlife and their habitat.