North America

Canada’s Yukon – Larger than Life!

Chilkoot Trail, One Mile River, Yukon
Photo credit: © Government of Yukon

Close your eyes and imagine in your mind’s eye an unforgettable outdoor adventure …

The Yukon is about sights and sounds … activities that one can only imagine but also discover here in Canada’s great northland.

Whether your craving lies in pursuing adventures in the great of outdoors, participating in novel cultural events and festivals, or savouring a drive through extraordinary scenery, you’ll find it here.

The Yukon, and its towering mountains, boreal forests, sweeping tundra, rushing rivers, enormous glaciers and miles of Arctic coastline, may just energize your soul.

If you are not bothered by driving long distances, exploring the Yukon by road can be a great way to see this territory’s natural beauty. However, the distances can be vast. But you can also easily travel by air point-to-point. Tip: Get a window seat! The vistas are stunning.

The culture of Yukon’s First Nations people evolved over millennia into the rich tapestry of dialects, arts, crafts, cuisines, and practices that we cherish to this day..

Over 20,000 years ago, people inhabited an area near what is now known as Old Crow. In the Yukon they hunted wooly mammoths, bison, horses and caribou. They survived and thrived in the Yukon’s unforgiving climate. Over time, the ancestors of Yukon’s First Nations people established permanent settlements, some of which remain today as modern-day towns.

The area then became a “golden” place to visit. But with a purpose … By the end of the 19th century gold miners were trickling in on rumours of gold, driving a population increase and just in time for the start of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. The increased population as a result with the gold rush led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.

So in addition to the magnificent scenery and “not your typical beach vacation things to do” there is an abundance of fascinating history and lore that will enthrall you …

There’s no limit to what you can do in the Yukon.

Emerald Lake, Yukon
Photo credit: © Government of Yukon 

From cosmopolitan Whitehorse and historic Dawson City, to the mountain town of Haines Junction and the artists’ community of Keno City, the residents of at least 18 Yukon communities will welcome you. Yukoners provide a special kind of northern hospitality, where visitors become part of community celebrations and find themselves swapping stories with locals around a campfire

You can enjoy impressive Yukon landscapes, participate in active adventure outings and explore the remarkable heritage and cultural attractions in the Yukon’s charming villages and hamlets. You can sleep beneath the northern lights and dance under the midnight sun. You can discover the majesty of national parks (Kluane, Ivvavik and Vuntut), territorial parks (Tombstone and Herschel Island) and Canadian Heritage Rivers. And you can gaze up at Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, and also witness the migration of a Porcupine caribou herd.

Many visitors begin a visit in Whitehorse, the lively capital city on the Yukon River. Whitehorse is Yukon’s capital and largest city (Population 23,276, 2011). Whitehorse’s downtown and Riverdale areas occupy both shores of the Yukon River, which originates in British Columbia and meets the Bering Sea in Alaska. The city was named after the White Horse Rapids for their resemblance to the mane of a white horse, near Miles Canyon, before the river was dammed. Because of the city’s location in the Whitehorse valley, the climate is milder than other comparable northern communities. At this latitude winter days are short and summer days have 20 hours of daylight.

You will want to drive the scenic loop to the Klondike Gold Rush town of Dawson City, visiting Carmacks Pelly Crossing, Mayo and Keno City along the way. After crossing the Top of the World Highway, you will encounter spectacular views of the Kluane Front Ranges as you return on the Alaska Highway through Beaver Creek, Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay and the village of Haines Junction at the edge of Kluane Park.

You can also visit the Southern Lakes and Marsh Lake, Tagish and historic Carcross, the town at the crossroads to the Klondike. But … leave time to explore the Tlingit lakeside community of Teslin and the ‘Gateway to the Yukon’, Watson Lake, before circling back through Faro and Ross River.

But … DO NOT miss seeing the natural wonder and intimate celestial light show of the Aurora Borealis. The Aurora Borealis, or “northern lights”, are visible under dark skies between the months of September to April, preferably under a clear, cloudless sky. Usually seen between 5 PM and 2 PM, it is important to be away from artificial light. No one month guarantees better sightings than another but December to February offer the longest hours of darkness, while the months during autumn and spring are likely to provide more favourable weather conditions and often more aurora activity.

Midnight Sun

Midnight sun, Yukon
Photo credit: © Government of Yukon 

And if you appreciate the sun, be sure to celebrate the Sun at Midnight! From May through September, Yukon’s long days provide for ample time to keep exploring this remarkable wilderness. And … bring your golf clubs! You can play a round at Midnight!

But there’s more …

You can fly over Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, and view the wildlife, glaciers, icefields and diverse ecosystems of Yukon’s World Heritage Site, Kluane National Park.

You can paddle through time down the Yukon River, Yukon’s historic river highway and a Canadian Heritage.

If wildlife viewing with a guide is what you are looking for, one of many Yukon tour operators offers wildlife viewing experiences.

But most important of all … take the time to breathe the crisp Yukon air, smell the spruce sap and the earthy scent of tundra, and listen for the excited howls of husky sled dogs, canoe along a Yukon river and dip your hands into the clearest water you’ve ever seen …

A vacation in Canada’s Yukon is a larger than life experience.

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