Exploring Tombstone Park
Story and photos contributed by Adele Ng of @mywhiskeygirl
It may be very far for most to come to, but if you’re ever in the vicinity, the Tombstone Territorial Park of the Yukon Territory of Canada is one of the most remarkable places I’ve visited. In our month-long road trip exploring British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada, and Alaska, we had really wanted to do a couple backcountry camping trips and Grizzly Lake seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Tombstone Park is situated mostly past the treeline which means most of the park consists of tundra, something so unique it feels at times you’re underwater surrounded by colorful alien plants. This part of the world lives on top of permafrost and there are only a couple summer months that are hospitable to visit and camp. We visited in July when the sun never goes down because we are so far north!
Our overnight trek consisted of a truly epic hike along the Grizzly Ridge Trail (11.5km one way, 797m incline) to Grizzly Lake. We took our time as I filled my camera’s memory cards with the most amazing scenery and little critters like the whistling marmots. The hike was extremely scenic and well marked passing a boreal forest, some alpine terrain, then some meadows, before arriving at the campsite at the lake. Overall it wasn’t difficult or technical compared to our regular summer alpine hiking in Vancouver, however further hiking past the lake gets more difficult. We were so lucky with the weather as the clouds were threatening rain the entire hike and only released after we had set up camp!
You must book a couple weeks ahead (spots are very limited) and visit the rangers station to check in before your hike and borrow a bear canister (heavy plastic container to keep food safe from bears). The rangers seemed to overestimate the difficulty and time by several hours for us, however, for those used to hiking in flat terrain the estimate would probably be more accurate. Those with a good pair of legs can do the hike in a longer day if the campsites are full.
Whiskey wore her Ruffwear Approach Pack to help us with the load throughout the hike. It also keeps her in “work” mode so she’s less likely to pull and run around. We normally fill up her pack with a small amount of water, snacks, and sunscreen on the hike in, and she carries the garbage on the way out.
You must keep your dog on leash, especially at the marmot fields as the marmots have a very short mating season, and of course most dogs would be very hard pressed to ignore them! There are ground squirrels all over, especially at the camp sites chattering away and cleaning up any crumbs. Because these squirrels are so salt-deprived, it’s advised you keep your bags and shoes in your tent as they will chew through anything with sweat on it!
The campground is right by the lake with several eating tents, a bear cache, and raised tenting locations throughout. There were two pit toilets, and a very muddy trail the rangers would like you to stay on to avoid damaging the sensitive tundra. Water is easily filtered from the streams feeding the lake or the lake itself. The views were amazing! If I get another chance at this hike, I’ll make sure I stay a couple days more. There are more campsites to other lakes although the trails there aren’t as well defined (if there are trails at all). However since there are no trees, it’s harder to get lost than you might think. Whenever I get another chance, I’m definitely coming back!
Follow all of Adele and Whiskey’s adventures on Instagram: @mywhiskeygirl. Happy trails!