Capital of the Yukon and Canada's most westerly city, Whitehorse offers all the amenities of a major city but retains a small-town personality. Situated on the banks of the Yukon River, it was established as a handy trans-shipment point during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898 when gold prospectors arriving from Skagway would board riverboats bound for the goldfields.
Today, its central position on the historic Alaskan Highway is convenient for visitors exploring the region, sitting halfway between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and Fairbanks, Alaska. The Yukon Visitor Reception Centre is a good place to start exploring the province, with handy tips, maps, and suggestions for tours and activities all available.
The main attraction in Whitehorse is the restored SS Klondike, a river steamer that ferried passengers north to Dawson City. Moored on the Yukon River, tours of the steamer inform visitors about the history of the gold rush, the river, and the First Nations people.
The MacBride Museum houses exhibits on a range of local topics, including a Klondike gold exhibition in a complex of log buildings. Other attractions include the four-story log skyscraper, one of the most photographed buildings in Whitehorse; and Miles Canyon, from where the city's name originated. Its rapids were likened to the manes of charging white horses.
Another popular Whitehorse attraction is the lively vaudeville show, the Frantic Follies, which takes to the stage every night in summer with music, can-can, skits, and songs reminiscent of the Klondike days.
The area around Dawson City lured thousands brave young men and women to join the world's last great gold rush in 1897. It is today bursting with attractions and sights centred on this romantic piece of Canadian history.
Dawson City itself is a colourful town with boardwalks and plenty of restored buildings, including Diamond Tooth Gertie's Dancehall and Casino. Then there is Carmacks, originally a riverboat fuelling station that is now a community preserving the First Nations culture, with an interpretive centre sketching aboriginal history over 10,000 years.
Fort Selkirk is the oldest settlement in the area and now survives as a living museum. The other venue to visit on the Klondike Trail is Pelly Crossing, where the life and times of the Northern Tutchone people is preserved at Big Jonathan House.
This vast park is dominated by mountains and ice in Canada's extreme alpine zone, making it a magnet to mountaineers and rugged adventure-seekers. The landscape includes mountain lakes, alpine meadows, tundra, and swift cold rivers. At the heart of the park is Mount Logan, rising up in the midst of an ice field to 19,545 feet (5,959m); the highest mountain in Canada.
Local tour operators in Yukon towns offer a variety of memorable daytrips and excursions into the park, featuring a wide range of activities such as canoeing, nature walks, rafting, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. Air trips over the area are also a very popular way to sightsee. The Kluane National Park Visitor Reception Centre is at Haines Junction, near the Alaska Highway.
On the banks of the Takhini River in a remote part of the Yukon, Frank Turner established a truly wonderful community centred on caring for this beloved sled dogs. He is a venerated figure, having completed the gruelling 1,000-mile sled dog race called the Yukon Quest more times than anyone else.
In recent years, the Muktuk Kennels have grown into a massively popular excursion for visitors to Whitehorse and it's easy to see why. The staff who look after more than 140 sled dogs (mainly huskies, Samoyeds, and Malamutes) are deeply committed to the animals and always try to include visitors in their daily care routines. The eco-friendly solar-powered guesthouses are comfortable and homey, offering panoramic views of the spectacular and unspoiled Ibex Valley.
Visitors can attempt mushing with the dogs during winter, while canoeing and kayaking on the lake are the most popular activities in summer. Muktuk Adventures is a heart-warming place to visit and is sure to appeal to dog-lovers and nature-lovers the world over.
Located in the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse has a dry subarctic climate with extreme variations between seasonal temperatures. Average daytime highs in summer (June to August) are 70°F (21°C) and the average lows of winter (December to February) are -7.6° F (-22° C). Average annual snowfall is 4.76ft (145 cm) while the annual rainfall is 6.4 inches (163 mm), making Whitehorse Canada's driest city.
The main appeal of the Yukon is its unspoiled wilderness, with Whitehorse being a great base from which to take excursions into the great outdoors. The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is the ideal spot to meet the local wildlife as it is home to the region's 10 major animal species: lynx, woodland caribou, elk, moose, wood bison, mountain goats, muskoxen, mule deer, and two species of Dall's sheep.
Because Yukon is a place where dogs are so integral to local culture, a visit to Muktuk Adventures is a must. Another option for those interested in dog-sledding and other outdoor ranching activities are the tours offered by Sky High Wilderness Ranch. Plenty of scenic hiking is possible in and around Whitehorse, with the Miles Canyon a particular favourite, and the stretching expanses of Kluane National Park beckoning nature lovers.
Cultural and historical sightseeing attractions in Whitehorse include the MacBride Museum of Yukon History, the S.S. Klondike sternwheeler ship, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, the log skyscrapers, and a number of fun gold rush sites.
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