Surrounded by beautiful wilderness, the Yukon’s capital, Whitehorse, is a small city with a big backyard. It’s the territory’s travel hub – a must-stop for those driving the Alaska Highway and the first taste of the Yukon for visitors arriving by air.
Once there, the options really rack up. Paddlers take to the historic Yukon River that flows through town. Hikers and mountain bikers access the hundreds of kilometres of trail. Adventurers climb into float planes on Schwatka Lake and fly off to wild, secluded places.
First Nations history and culture runs deep in the Yukon. Travellers find opportunities to learn about their way of life in every region, including all the way up into the Arctic Ocean. Explore Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park and Ivvavik National Park, where the Inuvialuit people have hunted and fished for millennia. Not reachable by road, these remote places hold riveting exploration for those who make the journey. At times, Parks Canada offers trips in Ivvavik National Park that include an Inuvialuit cultural host sharing stories as you visit significant sites together.
The discovery of Klondike gold in 1896 began a stampede of more than 100,000 prospectors. There’s still gold there, but today it’s the period’s captivating history that draws visitors to the territory. You’ll find so many ways to experience the gold rush heritage. The world-renowned Chilkoot Trail hike traces the prospectors’ path from Skagway, Alaska, to Bennett Lake in the Yukon. Across the ravine, the White Pass and Yukon Route railway chugs over the pass. In between the trail and the tracks, a scenic highway winds through the coastal mountains to the charming village of Carcross.
Those who are driving find the sky’s the limit. Less than an hour in various directions are refreshing hot springs, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, the much-photographed Emerald Lake and numerous wilderness tour operators eager to share their Yukon with you. Travel a bit farther and you’ll be able to enter Alaska or British Columbia – but we highly recommend exploring the other captivating regions of the Yukon first.
• In 2011, the World Health Organization ranked Whitehorse #1 for the cleanest air in the world!
• Legend has it that Whitehorse got its name when gold seekers thought Miles Canyon’s wild rapids resembled the manes of charging white horses
• The Whitehorse area has more than 700kms of marked trails, including 85kms of groomed cross country ski trails
• Did you know that the Alaska Highway, completed in 1942, was built using more people than the population of the Yukon at the time?
• There’s a story you need to ask about – it involves Louie Linken, whose toe was used in the first Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City.
Whitehorse summers are comfortable, while winters are cold and snowy.