Visiting the Yukon
The land of beautiful Northern Lights and the omnipresent Midnight Sun, Yukon Territory is a natural wonder with its own unique culture and a stunning wilderness that is as vast as it is diverse: culturally, historically and geographically. Fishing and Hunting enthusiasts will never be at a loss for things to do and new places to explore. Go by boat or seaplane, hike the thousands of kilometers of trails, mountain bike, or go on horseback to discover awesome mountain and sea vistas unlike any you have experienced before. Relive the Klondike Gold Rush era, following the footsteps made by the thousands who dared travel through the unkind terrain, desperately wanting to strike it rich. The hills, valleys, rivers and towns along the way are filled with stories of those frontier times, both sad and triumphant, some never even making it as far as Dawson City, the gateway to gold rush adventure. Learn about First Nations culture, and enjoy one of the many unique festivals that celebrate everything from comedy, film and local music to the Yukon Gold Panning Championships - where you might just get to take home a piece of gold rush history for your very own!
Things to do:
The Yukon is an all-season destination with many recreational options that offer history, adventure, wilderness, culture and urban excitement, not to mention the undeniable beauty that stretches to the horizon in all directions. Whether for your entire family, couples, or for a group of adventure-seekers, Yukon offers one of-a-kind experiences that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. For those who prefer a guided experience, there are plenty of tours offering adventure tours and seasonal vacations that center on activities related to the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights. It’s a natural wonderland, wild and vast, and it’s easy to get to places where you are so far from civilization, you might actually forget that it exists.
Enjoy some of The Yukon’s most popular destinations and activities:
Dawson City was the gateway of the historic Gold Rush, and it’s easy to indulge your gold fever by visiting historic sites and taking a trip out to the gold fields to try your hand at panning some of your own. There are a variety of restaurants from pubs to fine dining, and most are dedicated to locally sourced ingredients from mushrooms, to fish and wild game. Shop and take in the sights by day, hike to the top of the Midnight Dome for a photo op, and finish off your night in Canada’s first gambling hall, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.
The fly fishing is world-renowned: from the last weekend in May to the end of September, anglers can enjoy catching Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Burbot, and more, with several dedicated tour operators excursions, and fishing camps with direct access to nine pristine Yukon lakes.
For water enthusiasts, whitewater rafting invites you to experience an adrenaline rush as well as the spectacular scenery that can only be viewed on a trip down the down the Alsek, Tatshenshini or Firth rivers. Camping and rafting excursions combine active adventure and scenery that may include glaciers and all kinds of wildlife, such as bears, moose, caribou, muskox and arctic foxes. Those who prefer a flat water adventure will enjoy canoeing and kayaking through the crystal clear water of Yukon’s lakes, paddling through some of the most remote and untouched regions in North America.
It goes without saying that no trip to the Yukon would be complete without a gold rush experience! Drive the Klondike Highway from the Alaskan coastal town of Skagway all the way to Dawson City, roughly following the trail that hopeful prospectors took so many years ago, taking in points of interest and historical stopovers along the way.
When visiting the Yukon for the first time, it is helpful to know what are considered to be the “must see” and “must do” activities and destinations. Here are some of our top tips, designed to help you plan your trip:
- Northern Lights: From autumn until spring, it’s easy to catch a spectacular light show in the sky. It might begin as a shimmer of green, and it may burst forth with streaks of neon light showing all the colors of the rainbow in a fantastic display of Aurora Borealis that seem to ripple on the breeze. Depending on the auroral activity and cloud cover, you may be able to catch such stunning vistas every night. Explore the city of Whitehorse by day, sampling local cuisine and visiting museums and galleries, then get your winter gear on and head for the hills. Go on your own, or connect with a local tour operator, but make sure you have enough to keep you warm – Yukon winters are extremely cold, with winter temperatures in Whitehorse easily reaching minus twenty centigrade, or colder.
- Panning for Gold: May through September are the best times to travel to Yukon for a gold panning adventure. Just outside of Dawson City is Claim 33, where you and your family can pan for gold – and keep all you find, even having the option of getting your treasure set into a necklace as a souvenir. Tours of the gold fields are offered, and the friendly staff gives instruction on panning techniques before they cut you loose to follow your dream.
- Midnight sun: after the summer solstice on June 21, the sun does not set over the Arctic, and the further north one travels, the longer the season. The region comes to life under the relentless sunlight, with millions of birds and vast fields of wildflowers. The province hosts many festivals, and outdoors activities are everywhere to be found with no sun setting on your sunshine fun.
- Dogsledding and Whitehorse: The perfect Yukon winter adventure, pairing wide-open trails and panoramic vistas with a one-of-a-kind excursion you won’t soon forget! Several mushing packages are offered by Cabin Fever Adventures and include day trips as well as multi-day overnight camping tours: imagine driving your own team of Huskies down frozen rivers to reach your destination. Stay in a wood-stove heated tent, setting out on snowshoe by day and searching for Aurora Borealis by night.
- Klondike Highway: For those who love a good road trip, the drive from the coastal Alaskan town of Skagway along the Yukon River to Dawson City follows the trail that hopeful prospectors took during the Gold Rush days. Along with the breathtaking beauty of lakes and mountain passes, there are several historical points of interest along the way, some original buildings from the era, and plenty of mythology for the curious traveler. Spanning just over seven hundred kilometers, it travels through the United State of Alaska for a short while before crossing into British Columbia, and then finally into Yukon, where it reaches Whitehorse first and finally Dawson City at the top. What once took several days by stagecoach to complete now can be done in a day, allowing for stops along the way and perhaps a detour along the Silver Trail to the historic silver mining towns of Keno and Mayo.
- Takhini Hot Springs: an all-season hot spring spa built upon an original mineral hot spring that has been in use since the 1940’s. Less than a half hour drive from downtown Whitehorse, Takhini Hot Springs is one of the most visited locations in the region. Their two connected pools are filled with water that flows from deep within the earth, and naturally flows at about forty degrees centigrade. No matter what season you visit, the mountain view from the pool is spectacular: whether snow-covered, painted with autumn color or bathed in sunshine, the peace and tranquility of the location is captivating and meditative.