High in Canada’s north-west, the Yukon is a place of ‘gold rush’ hills, Indigenous histories and imperious mountains. And all it takes is four wheels and a whisper of adventure for you to discover it...
Begin in Dawson City, gateway to the Klondike ‘gold rush’ that saw a stampede of fortune hunters swarm the hills and towns of the Yukon 125 years ago. The rush lasted barely a handful of winters but in that time some 100,000 found and lost fortunes among the lakes and mountains, scattering relics of ghost towns, prospector trails and mines still explored today. Visitors can also walk part of the 53km Chilkoot Trail or canoe Bennett Lake, as the miners would have done all those years ago.
Drive west along dramatic roads to reach Kluane National Park. Wilderness dominates the landscape here, with Mt Logan (5,959m), Canada’s tallest mountain, glowering down over the world’s largest non-polar ice fields. Hike backcountry trails to milk-white glaciers or descend into the valleys where some 160,000 caribou are joined by wolves, black and grizzly bears. Take to the water in a canoe or a kayak and if you’re lucky you will see the bears. Alternatively, soar overhead on flightseeing tours to take in spectacular views from where only bald eagles roam.
Human history runs through this territory as freely as gold and water. Half a dozen cultural centres across the Yukon allow you to explore the stories of many of the 14 First Nations peoples that made this their home as far back as 12,000 years ago. In Carcross, drop by the Haa Shagóon Hídi Learning Centre to discover the history and art of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. Visit Da Ku (Our House) in Haines Junction to see Indigenous artists in their studios, learn about the intricate beadwork of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations people and explore traditional trails. From Whitehorse to Old Crow, you’ll find Indigenous histories that echoed across this land long before the first prospector set foot here.
One thing not to miss? The Dempster Highway. It veers up from the ‘gold rush’ hills of Klondike and high into the Northwest Territories, passing the magnificent Tombstone Territorial Park, Indigenous communities and the Arctic Circle. For those with a car and a sense of adventure, it’s a welcome invitation to make a few stories of your own...
The experts at Windows On the Wild share their top travel recommendations for the Yukon with us...
1. Get a high altitude view of UNESCO-listed Kluane National Park with a glacier flightseeing trip over the world’s largest non polar icefields and Canada’s tallest mountains.
2. Flightsee or hike in Tombstone Territorial Park and appreciate this unique wilderness of rugged peaks, abundant wildlife and First Nations history.
3. Paddle into wilderness on the Yukon River in a canoe, kayak or raft and experience the solitude and beauty out on the water.
4. Visit the Yukon in autumn when the colours are spectacular, the days are still warm and there is also the chance to see Northern Lights which begin as early as August and go through to April.
5. Soak up the Klondike Gold Rush history in Dawson City with a Goldbottom mine tour and a visit to Diamond Tooth Gerties, Canada’s oldest casino.
6. Experience the ‘bucket list’ Dempster Highway, the only highway in Canada to cross the Arctic Circle.
7. Marvel at Miles Canyon in the midnight sun during summer; it's a great place for hiking and mountain biking.
8. Watch the Aurora Borealis light up the night sky at beautiful locations.
9. Experience the thrill of dog-sledding in winter over frozen lakes with one of the many local specialist operators.
10. Explore First Nations history and meet with members of the Crow and Wolf Clans at Long Ago Peoples Place near Whitehorse.
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