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The Top Ten Things to do in the Yukon

Updated on October 12, 2015

An Insider's View - The Yukon is Home

If you're planning to visit the Yukon or stop in as you drive to Alaska, there are plenty of sights and activities you wont want to miss.

It is a territory of contrasts. The capital city Whitehorse has all the major amenities of any moderately sized city and the bulk of the population. Outside the city, you can travel for miles through some of the most picturesque and rugged scenery on the planet, without seeing another soul.

The Yukon is almost 500 square miles, making it almost twice the size of Texas, but fewer than 35,000 people live here.

Things to do in Whitehorse

Whitehorse is the seat of government in the territory.

If you are driving the Alaska Highway, plan to spend a few days here. It is the last major center before Fairbanks, Alaska so you'll want to stock up on groceries and other necessaries while you're here.

Whitehorse has a beautiful state of the art Games Center and Arts Center which hosts nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.

The city offers a wide range of great restaurants and bars.

Things to Do in the Whitehorse Area

It doesn't matter where you are in the city, you're just minutes away from a hiking trail.

The Yukon River flows through the downtown's core where you can rent a kayak or canoe for a leisurely paddle.

Climb Grey Mountain for a view of the city.

Don't miss historic Miles Canyon and the suspension bridge.

At the end of the day, enjoy a relaxing soak in the Tahkini Hot Springs.

Take a tour down the Yukon River on the M.V. Schwatka.

Whitehorse Guides

Are you looking for a guidebook to outline the best trails to hike or bike in the city?

Do you want to learn more about the history of Whitehorse?

Here are some suggestions.

Skagway, Alaska
Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, Alaska

It is a short , two hour trip south of Whitehorse to visit Skagway, Alaska.

The town has a year round population of less than a thousand people, but tens of thousands arrive in the community on cruise ships each week during the summer.

Skagway was the stopping off point for the Stampeders before they made their long journey to the Klondike goldfields.

It's also the starting point for people hiking the historic Chilkoot Trail.

Skagway is home to the WhitePass and Yukon Route Railway, which offers daily trips to Lake Bennett,

Watson Lake Yukon's Gateway

Watson Lake is the first Yukon community you'll reach when you are driving north on the Alaska Highway.

It's links to the highway are evident in the signpost forest. The forest started during World War II, when a homesick American soldier put up a signpost from his home town on a tree. Today, there are more than 10,000 signposts from all over the world on display.

The Alaska Highway itself is considered to be a miracle of modern engineering. It covers 1700 miles through tough terrain. The highway was built in less than eight months after the US government became fearful of attacks on Alaska by Japanese forces. The original highway was a series of twists and turns to protect convoys from air attacks. Today, the road has been straightened in most sections. It is also fully paved.

Magnificent Kluane National Park

Kluane National Park (pronounced clew-AH-knee) is home to Canada's largest mountain range, the St. Elias Mountains. It's also home to Canada's largest mountain, Mount Logan. The park contains the longest and most dramatic ice fields in North America.

Kluane National Park has some of the best, well marked and well maintained hiking trails in the territory.

It also has a large bear population so it's important to practice bear awareness out on the trail.

Dawson City - Home of the Klondike

Visiting Dawson City is like stepping back in time.

Many of the gold rush era buildings like the Place Grand Theater are still standing.

The sidewalks are made of wood. You can gamble and watch the can can girls dance in Canada's first casino, Diamond Tooth Gerties.

Pan for gold, listen to poetry at the Robert Service cabin, and take the free ferry across the river.

Drive the Dome Road for a spectacular 360 degree view of the Yukon River and Dawson goldfields.

Drive the Dempster Highway

The Dempster Highway runs 450 miles from just south of Dawson City to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.

Along route, you'll cross the Arctic Circle and cross two rivers by ferry.

The highway is not paved and there are few services along the way.

It's important to check road conditions before starting out. The ferries shut down during freeze up and break up. The highway may be closed in the summer due to flooding or smoke from nearby forest fires.

Even if you aren't planning to drive the entire route, be sure to go as far as the Tombstone Mountains for world class hiking and spectacular scenery.

Get Out On the Water

No trip to the Yukon would be complete without rafting, canoeing or kayaking on one of the territory's many lakes and rivers.

There are a number of companies that rent watercraft. From Whitehorse take a half day paddle down the Tahkini River or a five day trip to Dawson City. Outfitters can guide you, or you can go alone. The companies will pick up you and your gear at the end of the trip and transport you back to Whitehorse.

One of the most popular water trips for visitors and locals alike is rafting down the Tatshenshini River. The day long trip starts south of Haines Junction, about a two hour drive from Whitehorse.

Expert rafting guides provide all the gear including dry suits and helmets. Along the route you'll stop for lunch and travel through rapids.

"Rafting the Tat" is one of my top picks for a short Yukon adventure.

Plan Your Trip Around an Event

If you are into sports or entertainment there are some great events you'll want to take in.

The Dawson City Music Festival features a wide range of performers from across North America. It takes place in the third week in July. If you are planning to attend, book your hotel room and buy your tickets early. This is always a sold out event.

If you're into running, don't miss the Klondike Road relay. Each year teams of ten people run 100 miles through the night from Skagway Alaska to Whitehorse. If you want to run, but don't have a team, contact Sport Yukon. They match up runners with teams. The Klondike Road Relay takes place the first weekend after Labor Day.

If biking is more your style, the Chilkat International Bike Relay may be just the thing for you. The event takes place in the third week of June. More than 1500 bicyclists ride in stages from Haines Junction to Haines Alaska, through Kluane National Park.

Experience a Yukon Winter

Yes, it's cold. It can drop down to minus fifty degrees. It's also dark, with only two or three hours of daylight in late December, but Yukoners don't hibernate.

The territory is home to world class cross country skiers.

There are three facilities for downhill skiing and snowboarding.

There are miles and miles of trails to explore by snowmobile.

On a crisp, clear winter night, if you're lucky, you'll see the northern lights dance across the sky.

Have You Visited the Yukon?

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