6 Ways to Explore Yukon Territory: Canada’s Wild North

While sparsely populated, the wild territory of northwest Canada – known as the Yukon – is an adventurers’ paradise. From watching the northern lights to wildlife encounters, charming gold rush towns and high-octane activities, the Yukon has it all. Here are some of the best experiences.

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Photo © Guy Wilkinson

Explore the Capital, Whitehorse

Delve into the region’s fascinating gold rush history at the MacBride Museum, marvel at dinosaur skeletons and sabre tooth tigers at the Beringia Interpretive Centre, or bathe in the soothing waters at the Takhini hot springs.

Downtown, be sure to pick up a Pierre Burton tome about the region’s colorful pioneers at Well-Read books before dropping into The Dirty Northern bar for a well-earned beer.

Northern lights over downtown Whitehorse. Photo credit: iStock

See the Northern Lights

This is one of the finest regions in Canada for watching the aurora borealis – aka the northern lights. The prime time to see them is between late-August to mid-April.

A variety of tour operators facilitate this experience with guided tours which include transfers to and from Whitehorse, as well as cozy cabins equipped with wood-fired stoves, hot drinks, tripods for mounting your camera and even photography advice. See northerntales.ca for more information.

The northern lights putting on a show above the Yukon. Photo credit: iStock

Take a Glacier Flight Over Kluane National Park

Home to Mount Logan – Canada's highest peak at 19,550ft (5,959m), and the world's largest non-polar glacier ice fields, Kluane National Park is simply stunning.

Though you can hike regions of the backcountry or even raft past glaciers, undoubtedly the best views are from the air. Flying through epic mountain passes that seem almost close enough to touch, you'll get the world's best view of a stunning alpine landscape carved out over millions of years. See rockingstar.ca for more information.

The view over St Elias Range, Kluane National Park, Yukon. Photo credit: iStock

Experience the Yukon Quest

Each year the Yukon Quest, a 621mi (1,000km) dog sled race from Whitehorse, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska, has spectators flocking to the Yukon to witness what many regard as the toughest race on earth. Those keen to see the event first-hand can also try mushing a dog sled themselves.

Just outside Whitehorse, Muktuk Kennels offers a host of dog sled adventures, ranging from a guided two-hour excursion to far longer customized expeditions. See yukonquest.com or muktuk.com for more information.

Dog sledding in the Yukon. Photo credit: iStock

Trek the Chilkoot Trail

Made famous as the route traveled by miners and prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, this trek is as challenging as it is spectacular.

Today's trail spans 33mi (53km) through the Coast Mountains from the ghost town of Dyea, Alaska to Bennett, British Columbia. Click here for more information. 

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Visit Dawson City

Founded at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, the charming town of Dawson on the banks of the Yukon River still retains the air of a wild west settlement. In winter the vibrant red, blue, and yellow wooden houses stand in stark contrast to the snowy landscape while the surrounding steep hills give it the feel of a miniature San Francisco transported into the wilderness.

Join the Sour toe cocktail club, trek stunning trails, explore Tombstone National Park, visit Jack London’s cabin and much more. See dawsoncity.ca for more information.

Getting to the Yukon 

The Yukon is easily reached, with most major commercial airlines connecting with the gateway city of Whitehorse via Vancouver, Ottawa, YellowknifeEdmonton and more. There are also a multitude of convenient connections from other North American cities. 

Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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