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6-0273-Atlin-Sternwheeler
The historic M.V. Tarahne sternwheeler

Atlin

Geography

Atlin is located in the farthest corner of Northwest British Columbia, far removed from the rest of the province. The closest BC town is Telegraph Creek, which is still 250km/155mi away.

Atlin sits just below the border of the Canadian territory of the Yukon about 180km/112mi southeast of Whitehorse. To the east is the US state of Alaska.

To get to Atlin by road, travelers must drive north and pass over the British Columbia/Yukon territory border then drive south, back into BC. The town's only vehicle access point is Highway 7, more commonly known as Atlin Road, which is only partly paved. On Atlin Road look for the BC/Yukon border, which along with a cutline through the forest marks the 60th parallel.

Atlin Lake

Atlin's most significant natural feature is Atlin Lake, a gorgeous aqua-coloured lake, surrounded by mountains and glaciers, and full of fish and islands. Atlin Lake and the glaciers that melt into its south end are the headwaters of the Yukon River.

The lake is part of Atlin Provincial Park. Within the park is Birch Mountain, the tallest mountain in fresh water in North America. It stands on Teresa Island directly across from town, which sits on the lake's eastern shores. The Llewellyn Glacier, one of the largest ice fields on the continent, is also part of the park.

On the western side of the lake is the seemingly endless Coast Mountain range. Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another incredible wilderness area west of Atlin.

Climate and Weather

The climate here is surprisingly arid. Summers are sunny and dry with very little rain. Summer day temperatures average around 17°C/62°F though nights are cooler. Winter temperatures range between -10°C/50°F and -20°C/68°F.

Daylight hours are exceptionally long in the summer and short in the winter. The sun sets around midnight in June. For a couple months, before the lake freezes (usually in January or February), and the air is colder than the water, an eerie ice fog hovers over the lake. Aurora Borealis, the glowing northern lights, is seen here sometimes too.