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Route Four: Flying from Seattle/Vancouver to Whitehorse via Edmonton and then the Alaska Highway: 1,420 nm with Stops in Edmonton and Fort Nelson
· Pilots from the west coast of the US who are intimidated by the Trench route, or who want a better IFR alternative if the weather deteriorates, should consider flying the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse via Edmonton and/or Fort St. John or Fort Nelson.
· To reach the Alaska Highway, one must first fly across the Rockies from the Seattle/Vancouver area to Edmonton. The shortest IFR route is a distance of 530 nm, with the highest MEA of 12,000 feet, and would be along the Victor airways: V120 to Wenatchee VOR (EAT), Ephrata VOR (EPH) and Fairchild VOR (SKA), then V112 to Cranbrook (YXC), then V305 to Calgary VOR (YYC), and then V301 to Edmonton VOR (YEG), landing at either Edmonton International (CYEG) to check in with Canadian customs or Edmonton City Centre (CYXD). There is an 86 nm segment of this route which would be at 13,000 feet, so it can probably be legally be flown without oxygen in an SR22; the remainder of the route would be no higher than 11,000 feet. If flying IFR, use the NACO L-1 and L-9 enroute charts and the Canadian LO 2 enroute chart (1.5MB, so expect slow download). If flying VFR, use the following Canadian sectional charts: Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
· The second leg is 490 nm, and goes from Edmonton VOR (YEG) to Grande Prairie VOR (YQU) to Fort St. John VOR (YXJ) to Fort Nelson VOR (CYYE) . This can best be flown GPS direct; the highest MEA is 8,500 feet. From Fort St. John (CYXJ) to Fort Nelson (CYYE) there are three choices: first, fly direct along V326 (171 nm, MEA of 8,500 feet); second, follow the Alaska Highway between these two points as it winds through the Rocky Mountains; or, third, follow the railroad between these two points, which avoids most terrain. The later two choices can increase the distance flown by up to 40%, but the terrain is quite beautiful. If flying IFR, use the Canadian LO 1 enroute chart (1.5MB, so expect slow download). If flying VFR, use the following Canadian sectional charts: Edmonton, Prince George and Fort Nelson.
· The third leg is a total of 400 nm when flown direct, and goes from Fort Nelson (CYYE) to Watson Lake (CYQH) and then to Whitehorse (CYXY). If VFR conditions exist, then simply follow the Alaska Highway as it leaves Fort Nelson (see the blue diamond trail on the Fort Nelson sectional chart) at a heading of 268 degrees, past Steamboat, Summit Lake (4,300 foot high pass), Toad River Valley (3,600 foot high pass), Muncho Lake, Trout River and the Liard River, then past the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park toward Watson Lake (CYQH). The mountains to the south of this route will rise to nearly 10,000 feet, but beware that weather can often block the passes. From Watson Lake (CYQH) to Whitehorse (CYXY), follow the highway at a heading of 242 degrees (see the blue diamond trail on the Whitehorse sectional chart) through the valley of the Rancho Ria River, where there is a small pass at 3,300 feet just after Pine Lake airport (CFY5) (the surrounding mountains are 6,000 to 7,000 feet high); continue following the highway through the valley of the Swift River, passing several small lakes and then the over Teslin Lake, past Teslin airport (CYZW); just at the end of Teslin Lake follow the highway as it diverges from the Teslin River and instead makes an abrupt turn southwest—travel through a cut in the mountains and a small 2,800 foot pass, then exit the mountain area and follow the highway as it turns to the northwest just before Little Atlin Lake (not highway 7 which veers to the south) along the shores of Marsh Lake to Whitehorse (CYXY).
· If flying VFR, use the following Canadian sectional charts: Fort Nelson and Whitehorse. There is also a Canadian sectional chart entitled Alaska Highway.
· Listed below are directory information, diagrams and instrument approach procedures for each of the airports mentioned in Route Four (or, in the case of a navigation aid, the associated airport). This information was obtained from either AOPA or NavCanada, is copyrighted, has an expiration date of mid-2004, and is presented for informational purposes only.
Edmonton City Centre (CYXD)
Edmonton International (CYEG)
Fort St. John (CYXJ)
Grande Prairie (CYQU)
Pine Lake (CFY5)
Watson Lake (CYQH)