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  • Yukon Territory

    Yukon Territory travel guide

    Overview

    The territory of the Yukon is wintry, wild, and wonderful. Canada's True North is a spectacular wilderness of comprehensive national and territorial parks filled with stunning landscapes and rare wildlife, like the 120,000-strong Porcupine Caribou herd that is protected in the Vuntut and Ivvavik National Parks. Black and grizzly bears, Dall sheep, moose, wolves, and musk oxen are some of the other creatures spotted regularly all over the territory.

    The Yukon Territory is in the extreme northwest of Canada, bordering Alaska. Its tourism is focused around outdoor activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking and hiking in the summer, and skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding in the winter.

    The Yukon also has its own natural magical light show in winter: undulating ribbons of pale-green, pink, and blue lights dance in the night sky as the Aurora Borealis phenomenon delights watchers below. The province also boasts Canada's highest mountain set in a sea of ice: the majestic Mount Logan peak in Kluane Park.

    Although 80 percent of the Yukon is wilderness, there are people living there too. Native Yukoners are spirited and uniquely connected with their land, having plenty of tales to tell travellers. Many legends survive from the days of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, when 30,000 aspirants arrived in Dawson City in hope of making their fortunes. The First Nations culture is also well preserved and museums, historic sites, and interpretive centres throughout the province provide fascinating insights.

    Klondike

    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.

    Website: dawsoncity.ca
    Dawson City Dawson City Arthur Chapman
    Kluane National Park

    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.

    Quill Creek, Kluane National Park Quill Creek, Kluane National Park Wikibunt
    Muktuk Adventures

    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.

    Address: Kilometre marker 1443, Alaska Highway, Whitehorse
    Website: www.muktuk.com
    Dog sledding, Yukon Territory Dog sledding, Yukon Territory Jeff Nelson

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    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 Yukon Territory climate is primarily subarctic, and most of the province is at a high elevation with semiarid conditions, creating warm summers with temperatures averaging 77°F (25°C) and up. Summer days are long, usually with 24-hour daylight in June and July due to the extreme northerly location of the province. Winters, the peak months of which are December to February, tend to be bitterly cold, with little sun resulting in very short days. Temperatures in the southern regions can average between 39°F (4°C) and -58°F (-50°C), while further north temperatures drop even lower.

    Yukon Territory

    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.