At first glance, it looks like an odd place to buy a hot dog.
About 15 kilometres outside Haines Junction — if you’re driving from Whitehorse — there’s a little trailer set up beside the Alaska Highway.
It’s a spot you might drive by if you didn’t know it was there.
Wooden posts flagged with orange streamers mark the off-ramp guiding drivers up a gentle slope to a cream-coloured trailer overlooking the highway.
A sign nestled in the trailer’s window (beside old Beatles’ posters) proclaims it open for business.
For Morey Smith, one of the Yukon’s most ambitious entrepreneurs, it’s the perfect location.
Smith runs the territory’s only “extremely funky outdoor hot dog stand” out of the small trailer.
It sits squarely at kilometre 1562 of the Alaska Highway.
“The milepost is right behind you — you couldn’t ask for a better address,” he says pointing to the highway marker.
He will sell you a hot dog with ketchup, mustard, relish and fried onions — depending on what you like — some fries and a coffee from the trailer he calls “the paddy wagon.”
You can enjoy the snack while sitting on some nearby wooden benches and chairs he has set up out front and warm your hands on the fire that’s smoking in a metal bin.
It’s dining with one of the best view in the territory — overlooking snowcapped mountain peaks, hectares of evergreens and frozen lakes.
And you can purchase a local craft — wood poles with burls handmade by craftspeople in Beaver Creek adorn the side of the paddy wagon.
Inside there’s a fully equipped kitchen.
“There’s a stove and fridge in here — all propane, a pot-bellied wood stove with a little chimney goes in the corner there,” he says pointing around the trailer.
“Deep fryer, charbroil grill, four-burner propane stove and everything is just all ticky-boo, brand new and works.”
But that’s not all you can get at this unique food wagon.
Smith is working to turn this little spot of the Yukon wilds into a full-scale tourist attraction for cold-weather sports, like skating and skiing in the winter, and hiking and camping in the summer.
“I got miles and miles of untracked ski loops. I got 30-minute, 60-minute, 90-minute, two-hour, four-hour loops,” he says, tracking a red laser pointer around a map of the area’s trails.
“There’s pond hockey, family skating and ice dancing all over at the beaver pond,” he says, pointing to a cleared-off patch of ice at the bottom of the hill. “Got winter hiking up through here — 20-minute hikes for wellness, as they say — and sliding for everyone,” he says, and demonstrates by taking a little slip down the hill facing the highway.
And some more extreme sports like heli-snowboarding can be set up on nearby mountains.
“Get in the helicopter, go up there,” he says pointing out a nearby mountain.
“Ex-treme,” he adds.
In the summer, there are trails for hiking and mountain biking or nearby lakes for canoeing and kayaking.
“This is all pristine Yukon wilderness,” he says, walking around the snatch of land he’s chosen. The area is thick with trees now, but Smith is moving out brush to clear campsites in hopes of attracting campers and RVers to his site.
“Experience the magic and the mystery,” he says, reading from the promotional sign taped to the side of the trailer.
“Plagiarized that right from YTG tourism,” he adds with a laugh.
And using the facilities is free.
It’s an economic-development project designed to foster tourism and recreation in the area, explains Smith.
But how does he keep his enterprise afloat?
“You want a coffee, it’s a buck,” he explains. “If I sell 20 coffees that’s $20, and a jar of Nabob is $12.95, blah, blah, blah, right?”
He’s also got a deal set up with an inn in Haines Junction. If you pay a visit and use the facilities — the trails, the skating and skiing — he’ll give you a stamp that’ll get you a 10-per-cent discount on rooms and meals at a hotel in the Junction, he says.
“But you gotta use the facilities to get the stamp.”
Smith has been out here since October 23, through four of the coldest months of the year, but he says the woodstove kept him warm.
And, so far, he’s gotten “tons” of visitors.
“Mostly from Alaska, they’re going to Mexico to surf — that’s what they tell me anyway.”
Smith has big plans to expand in the future.
Pending government backing, Smith hopes to get permission to parlay his trailer into a full-scale lodge — complete with bar, hot tub — on the land.