YOU CAN IN THE YUKON
Woolly mammoths are long gone but the remote parts of Canada still offer a wild experience
Yukon! Just the name of Canada’s remote northwestern territory sparks excitement, with visions of wilderness and far frontiers. Yukon is still all that, even in the 21st century. Travellers regularly fly into Whitehorse, the territory capital, to hire an RV and head north to Dawson City and its relics of the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush.
Before heading out, however, it’s worth taking time to explore the “big city” (population 25,000). Though it’s a government town and practical service centre, Whitehorse also has plenty of attractions.
KWANLIN DÜN CULTURAL CENTRE
Opened in 2012, this attractive building serves First Nations people from across Yukon. It’s a beautiful structure of timber and glass, decorated with traditional indigenous designs and modern interpretations of them. Open to everyone, the centre contains an art gallery with changing exhibitions, along with key exhibits dotted through its interior. There are also exhibits of photographs with interpretive captions, outlining past achievements and tragedies of the Yukon’s first inhabitants. Visitors can request a free guided tour of the centre and its grounds, which border the fast-flowing Yukon River. 1171 FRONT ST, WHITEHORSE. FACEBOOK.COM/ KWANLINDUNCULTURALCENTRE
YUKON TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM
It may sound a touch dry, but in such a remote territory transport is an essential, even exciting, topic. This museum in a former air force hangar does a good job of covering the various transport means used throughout Yukon’s history, from dogsleds to light aircraft. Its prize exhibits include a red-painted Royal Mail sled, a replica of the famous Queen of the Yukon plane, and a yellow snowmobile with tank-like tracks. Out front is a restored Canadian Pacific DC-3 aircraft. 30 ELECTRA CRES, WHITEHORSE. GOYTM.CA
BERINGIA INTERPRETIVE CENTRE
During the last Ice Age, sea levels dropped so far that it was possible to walk from Siberia to Yukon – and many animals and humans did so, populating a unique region known as Beringia. Its fascinating natural history is explored here, with details of such curious creatures as woolly mammoths, steppe bison, scimitar cats, and giant short-faced bears. The tale of the first people to inhabit North America is also intriguing, with speculations on their culture based on scant remains. ALASKA HIGHWAY, WHITEHORSE. BERINGIA.COM
WHITE PASS & YUKON ROUTE
Though trains no longer call at Whitehorse’s central train station, it’s the starting point for a day trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway. Constructed from 1898 to 1900 at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, the narrow-gauge line linked Whitehorse to the port of Skagway, Alaska, heading through spectacular mountains on the way. Nowadays it’s a popular tourist railway. From Whitehorse, you’re bussed to nearby Fraser to enjoy a ride in the train’s heritage carriages down to Skagway, from where you’re returned by bus to your starting point. As this journey passes to and from the USA, remember to take your passport. 1109 FRONT ST, WHITEHORSE. WPYR.COM
The perfect place to drop into when the unpredictable Yukon weather takes a rainy turn. Outside town in a light industrial area, this brewery is often full of locals. The most Yukon brew option is the Spruce Tip Pale Ale, incorporating an element of the local foliage. Spruce beer first became popular because the spruce tips contain vitamin C, warding off scurvy. Toast your health with a glass. 83 MOUNT SIMA RD, WHITEHORSE. WINTERLONGBREWING.COM
YUKON WILDLIFE PRESERVE
If you have no luck spotting Yukon’s distinctive animals in the wild, you’re sure to see them at this sprawling open zoo outside town. Within large natural habitats are mule deer, thinhorn sheep, arctic foxes, caribou, moose, muskox, elk, bison and the elusive lynx. You’ll also see gophers popping up here and there. The easiest way to meet the critters is via the 5km bus tour, and it’s also possible to walk 2.5km or 5km loops. TAKHINI HOT SPRINGS RD, WHITEHORSE. YUKONWILDLIFE.CA
TAKHINI HOT POOLS
Just along the road from the Wildlife Preserve is this set of outdoor thermal pools. Naturally heated water is fed into two open-air baths, whose temperatures are kept moderated to 36°C and 42°C respectively. Soaking here under the Yukon sky is a relaxing experience, and in winter you can have the strange experience of doing so surrounded by snow. TAKHINI HOT SPRINGS RD, WHITEHORSE. TAKHINIHOTPOOLS.COM
This glassblowing studio in downtown Whitehorse welcomes anyone who’d like to try their hand at creating an artwork from scratch. Glass-blowing sessions guide you safely through the process, as you create an ornament you can then take home. It’s a good way to snare a unique Whitehorse souvenir. 101 KEISH ST, WHITEHORSE. LUMELSTUDIOS.COM
Whitehorse’s downtown buildings tend towards modern and blocky. Not so Woodcutter’s Blanket, a sophisticated cocktail bar housed in a beautiful 1938 log cabin which was once a prospector’s home. Frontier history seeps from its interior, with its bare log walls and central timber bar. Try a cocktail with a dash of Free Pour Jenny’s bitters, concocted by a local using Yukon plants such as fireweed. 112 STRICKLAND ST, WHITEHORSE. WOODCUTTERSBLANKET.COM
THE WRITER TRAVELLED COURTESY OF DESTINATION CANADA DESTINATIONCANADA.COM
Yukon’s distinctive attractions include lynx, elusive wildlife that can be seen at Yukon Wildlife Preserve; toast your health with the local spruce beer; and travel on the railroad route linking the port of Skagway, Alaska, with Whitehorse.