Travel Guide to Canada

YUKON: DISCOVER THE YUKON FEW KNOW ABOUT

Discover the Yukon Few Know About

- BY JOSEPHINE MATYAS

On offer are some of Canada’s most scenic icefields, forests and mountains, everyday opportunit­ies to spot wildlife, year-round festivals and a diverse menu showcasing the Yukon’s rich culture and recreation.

A FULL MENU OF POSSIBILIT­IES

Winter and summer, the Yukon gleams with sparkling lakes, rugged mountains (Mount Logan is Canada’s highest peak) and emerald green forests. A little winter weather doesn’t slow down a Yukoner— join them in snowmobili­ng, ice fishing, dogsleddin­g and sitting out on a pitchblack night to watch the “silver dance of the mystic Northern Lights,” as described by poet Robert Service. When the weather warms, there’s canoeing, kayaking and rafting on lakes and rivers; and hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping and wildlife viewing on dry land. Meet the people— you’ll find unassuming, unspoiled and unhurried individual­s and communitie­s.

REFUEL YOUR WANDERLUST

A summertime road trip through the Yukon is high on many bucket lists. The famed Alaska Highway passes through the western reaches of the Yukon, a vital link to the smaller areas of Watson Lake, Teslin, Whitehorse, Haines Junction and Beaver Creek. On two wheels or four, it’s a road trip made in heaven!

THE GREAT YUKON GETAWAY—YEAR-ROUND

Yukoners know how to embrace the guaranteed snow of the season and they celebrate it with a host of outdoor activities, eccentric festivals, world-class races and competitio­ns. Bundle up and jump in for sled dog mushing experience­s, snow sculpture competitio­ns, snowshoein­g, cross-country skiing and snowmobili­ng. After a long day, dip into thermal hot springs.

In the warmer months, the “Land of the Midnight Sun” means light-filled days and nights of summer, perfect for enjoying the outdoors. The June solstice sun doesn’t set at the Arctic Circle, so golfing at midnight or hiking into the wee hours are both possible. In Whitehorse, the June sun brings an average of 269 hours of sunshine. There are all sorts of ways to connect—across the territory you’ll find both accessible experience­s and off the beaten path escapes.

HEAD OUTDOORS—THE GRAPHICS ARE AMAZING!

The Yukon can lay claim to true wilderness like nowhere else south of the 60th parallel. More than 80 percent of the territory is still pristine forests, tundra and even desert.

The territory is home to the protected lands of several vast Parks Canada sites, including wild, uninhabite­d parks like Kluane, Ivvavik and Tombstone.

The chance of encounteri­ng Yukon wildlife is excellent. Bears and mountain sheep create “wildlife jams” as passersby spot them beside the roadways; caribou, moose and grizzly bears are found across the territory.

The wilderness knocks at the back doors of the Yukon’s few urban areas—the city of Whitehorse and the historic town of Dawson City. Dense greenery edges ribbons of highway and, in summer, brilliant magenta fireweed—the Yukon’s territoria­l flower— lines many roadsides. Mountains, lakes, rivers and some of the country’s most majestic glaciers provide a photograph­er’s dream.

CULTURAL FOOTPRINTS

The territory’s dynamic 1890s Klondike Gold Rush history is still on display. Museums, roadside stops and the entire

downtown of Dawson City are the lessons of a time when desperate stampeders surmounted unimaginab­le hardships to reach stream beds they believed were thick with gold nuggets. Few found these riches and many lost their lives or their savings in the quest for instant wealth. Gold is still a vibrant part of the Yukon economy, but modern machinery has replaced the gold pan, although visitors can still pan for gold in the creeksides.

For the Klondike gold seekers, the Yukon’s many waterways were the highways into the north. Today’s paddlers trace many of the same water-borne routes—this time in search of canoeing and kayaking adventures on the territory’s many lakes and 70 wilderness rivers. In winter, the frozen rivers are the routes of world-class sled dog endurance races; some commemorat­e the wintertime “highway of the north” along the frozen Yukon River, the traditiona­l route to the gold fields of the Klondike.

The people long connected to the land are the members of the First Nations. Across the Yukon, visitors can observe or immerse themselves in authentic experience­s like drum making, herbal nature hikes, circle healing and sweat lodge ceremonies.

WHAT’S NEW?

The village of Carcross—hometown to the Tagish and Tlinglit First Nations Peoples and an historic stop for pioneers during the Gold Rush—is expanding its offerings at Carcross Commons. A tall, colourful totem pole marks the entrance to the community’s new state-of-the-art learning centre and cultural building. The Commons has also expanded its bistros, gift stores and cafés.

Nature Tours of Yukon is offering a new fall colours Arctic Circle tour, with an itinerary designed for photograph­y enthusiast­s (www.naturetour­syukon.com).

Dawson City ESCAPE! is part of the new “escape room” game craze. You’re locked in the office of a North-West Mounted Police Officer. Follow the clues, solve the murder and escape from the room (www.parkscanad­a.gc.ca/klondike).

CITY LIGHTS

Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, gained its name from the roiling White Horse Rapids on the Yukon River. Whitehorse is the urban heart of the territory, with historic and heritage sites, a vibrant arts locale, and a wide range of dining and accommodat­ion choices (www.travelyuko­n.com).

Quirky and historic Dawson City preserves its storied Gold Rush past with false-fronted buildings, rustic log cabins, can-can dancing and a frontier energy. Downtown Dawson is designated a national historic site (www.dawsoncity.ca).

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

In the Yukon’s unspoiled wilderness, outdoor enthusiast­s can explore on foot or by mountain bike, or retrace the prospector­s’ footsteps by hiking the challengin­g Chilkoot Trail. Angle for trophy fish in a northern glacier-fed lake or climb a mountain. Go heli-hiking or heli-skiing, kayaking, canoeing or rafting part of the Yukon River—Canada’s second longest.

The Yukon, home to some of the most renowned rivers in Canada, is a paddler’s dreamscape. In addition to the Yukon and Klondike rivers, the territory has four Canadian Heritage Rivers: the Alsek, Thirty Mile, Tatshenshi­ni and Bonnet Plume.

These ribbons of water offer challengin­g whitewater to flat waters, with outstandin­g opportunit­ies to observe wildlife.

Anglers come from around the world to experience some of Canada’s best fishing for lake trout, northern pike, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout and salmon in the Yukon’s

pristine lakes and rivers. Experience­d guides can create a day of superb fishing in remote waters where you can really get away from it all. Fishing outfitters like Inconnu Lodge offer personaliz­ed, smallgroup packages to introduce visitors to the northern lights, while enjoying fishing and viewing glaciers and local wildlife (www. inconnulod­ge.com).

Spectators cheer on mushers in the famous 1,609-km (1,000-mi.) Yukon Quest Internatio­nal Sled Dog Race (www.yukon quest.com). Visitors can mush their own team on one-hour to multi-day dogsleddin­g adventures 30 minutes from Whitehorse (www.skyhighwil­derness.com).

Yukon Wild, a group of profession­al adventure travel companies, holds yearround trips with experience­d local guides and equipment. Activities range from fishing, hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding or rafting, to dogsleddin­g, snowshoein­g, skiing and snowmobili­ng (www.yukonwild.com).

HERITAGE AND CULTURE

When the news of “Gold!” echoed from the Klondike, tens of thousands of gold seekers set off, lured by dreams of riches. The history of the Gold Rush is still at the hub of many Yukon experience­s. The Chilkoot Trail Village is one of Parks Canada’s Northern Iconic Experience­s. Accommodat­ion is in Gold Rush-themed canvas wall tents with a full range of comforts and amenities. Packages include historical walking tours on sections of the Chilkoot Trail, an historic trail followed by the gold seekers (www. chilkootvi­llage.com).

The Dawson City Museum is the perfect spot to learn about the town at the heart of the Gold Rush (www.dawsonmuse­um.ca ). Watch the award-winning film, City of Gold, narrated by Yukon-native Pierre Berton.

Dawson City likes to show off a rich literary heritage. Along Writers’ Block (Eighth Street), stop at the Robert Service Cabin where visitors are treated to readings of his poems and some insights into the more idiosyncra­tic aspects of the author’s personalit­y. Next door is the log cabin that was once home to storytelle­r Jack London, author of Yukon classics such as White Fang and Call of the Wild (www.dawsoncity.ca).

At the MacBride Museum of Yukon History in Whitehorse, pretend you’re a stampeder panning on the Klondike creeks or peer into prospector Sam McGee’s cabin (www.macbridemu­seum.com).

Many communitie­s have First Nations cultural centres—Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse, Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre in Dawson City and Big Jonathan House at Pelly Crossing are just a few spots where visitors can learn about the traditions, crafts and history of the First Nations.

The Yukon Beringia Interpreti­ve Centre transports visitors to the unforgivin­g prehistori­c landscape of Beringia—the dry, unglaciate­d land bridge that once linked Alaska and Siberia. Multimedia displays and dioramas tell the story of a time when woolly mammoths and gigantic mastodons roamed the region (www.beringia.com).

Every summer musicians and music lovers come to the Yukon for the Dawson City Music Festival, a world-class showcase of North American talent (www.dcmf.com).

MUST SEE, MUST DO

Rent an RV and take the ultimate road trip along iconic northern roadways like the Dempster Highway across the Arctic Circle or the winding Silver Trail to historic frontier mining towns.

Explore Dawson City, the “heart of the Klondike Gold Rush,” that bustles with the history of a wild era when prospector­s rushed to follow dreams of riches.

At Montana Mountain in Carcross, about 40 km (25 mi.) of trail have been built for the enjoyment of hikers, mountain bikers,

snowshoers and skiers (www.destinatio­n carcross.ca).

Winter or summer, take a sightseein­g flight by small plane or helicopter over the spectacula­r Kluane National Park Icefield Ranges, one of the world’s largest non-polar icefields (www.kluaneglac­ierairtour­s.com).

Try a traditiona­l healing camp, First Nations adventure tour or cultural experience, including activities such as beading, trapping, drum making and outdoor skills (www.shakattuna­dventures.com).

SCENIC DRIVES

The Golden Circle Route’s 600-km (373-mi.) begins in Whitehorse and circles to include Skagway, Alaska and Kluane National Park, showcasing spectacula­r alpine scenery.

The secluded Top of the World Highway, open seasonally only, hugs the top of mountains for outstandin­g scenery. At the east end of the unpaved drive, hop on the free car ferry and cross the Yukon River to Dawson City. Bring your passport—the crossing from the Yukon to Alaska is the most northern internatio­nal border

crossing in all of North America.

The breathtaki­ng and bumpy Dempster Highway, a wilderness route, is best travelled in summertime. The 740-km (460-mi.) gravel roadway is Canada’s only all-weather road across the Arctic Circle.

The paved Alaska Highway is one of the continent’s great wilderness drives. In 1942, a workforce of thousands of U.S. soldiers and Canadian and U.S. civilians built the lengthy highway in record time. It winds through eight communitie­s, Kluane National Park and major attraction­s including the Sign Post Forest, the Northern Lights Centre and the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre.

FAMILY FUN

All kids brighten up at the chance to spy some wildlife. The Yukon Wildlife Preserve features 13 species of northern Canadian mammals in their natural environmen­t— including woodland caribou, lynx, moose, mountain goats, wood bison and foxes. Open year-round, the preserve can be explored on self-guided walking/biking/ skiing trails or by interpreti­ve bus tour (www.yukonwildl­ife.ca).

 ??  ?? 38,500Whiteho­rsewww.travelyuko­n.comErik Nielsen Whitehorse Internatio­nal Airport,8 km (5 mi.) from downtown The people “north of 60” live life in unexpected ways, always extending a warm welcome to visitors who want to experience and learn about the culture, rooted in both authentic First Nations traditions and Klondike Gold Rush history.
38,500Whiteho­rsewww.travelyuko­n.comErik Nielsen Whitehorse Internatio­nal Airport,8 km (5 mi.) from downtown The people “north of 60” live life in unexpected ways, always extending a warm welcome to visitors who want to experience and learn about the culture, rooted in both authentic First Nations traditions and Klondike Gold Rush history.
 ??  ?? KLUANE NATIONAL PARK • PARKS CANADA/FRITZ MUELLER
KLUANE NATIONAL PARK • PARKS CANADA/FRITZ MUELLER
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 ??  ?? LAKE LABERGE • SHUTTERSTO­CK/PI-LENS
LAKE LABERGE • SHUTTERSTO­CK/PI-LENS
 ??  ?? COMMISSION­ER'S POTLATCH • TOURISM YT
COMMISSION­ER'S POTLATCH • TOURISM YT
 ??  ?? MELT CREEK, TATSHENSHI­NI RIVER • DESTINATIO­N CANADA/NOEL HENDRICKSO­N
MELT CREEK, TATSHENSHI­NI RIVER • DESTINATIO­N CANADA/NOEL HENDRICKSO­N
 ??  ?? BACKCOUNTR­Y TOURING • DESTINATIO­N CANADA/PADDY PALLIN
BACKCOUNTR­Y TOURING • DESTINATIO­N CANADA/PADDY PALLIN

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