Nothing matches the Yukon’s impressive, wild landscape more so than the hardy locals who live there, and both are reason enough to visit this captivating territory.
Flying into Whitehorse, this barely-tamed capital is the perfect introduction to the territory. Rustic bars and small-town restaurants sit side by side with homely bakeries, outdoor retailers and welcoming bookstores.
You’ll also find MacBride Museum, where you can wrap your head around the pioneering history here, before taking a tour of the SS Klondike (in summer).
Whether you’re there in winter or summer, Dawson City is unlike anywhere else in Canada, and well worth a visit. Founded on the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s, there a strong pioneering spirit here that locals are still proud of today.
The best place to get a taste of this is at Downtown Hotel, where locals mix with tourists in this saloon-style pub. This is also where you can take on the Sourtoe Cocktail challenge, complete with a mummified human toe.
After you’ve tried the cocktail and succeeded and not swallowing the toe, head to Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall where you can catch a touristy but fun cancan show. Other more sedate sites worth seeing include Dawson City Museum and the Danoja Zho Cultural Centre.
If you think the parks of British Columbia and Alberta are worth raving about, wait until you lay eyes on Kluane National Park. Covering almost 22,000sq km and home to Mount Logan (5959m), the tallest mountain in Canada, the beauty of Kluane will leave you speechless.
Visit in winter when then park is covered in fresh snow and 100km-long ice-blue glaciers cascade through the valleys of what is one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the world. There’s no skiing here – not officially anyway – so the best way to see this ethereal landscape is via chopper. Take a flight with Kluane Helicopters, out of Haines Junction.
With 80 percent of the Yukon classified as wilderness, the territory has some of the best hiking trails in Canada. There are routes to suit all skill levels, from beginner hikes great for picnicking to multi-day challenges to mountain tops.
If you’re a regular hiker, check out remote Tombstone Territorial Park, where the rough terrain and temperamental weather will keep you on your toes, so to speak.
The Yukon’s rivers are also great for white-water kayaking, as well as a gentle paddle. If you want to mix history with adventure, follow the gold seeker’s route down the Yukon River past First Nations fish camps and meeting places.
In winter, drive your own sled-dog team on a tour with Sky High Wilderness Ranch, or try snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing or fat biking.
If you can brave the minus-30-degree temperatures (trust me, you can do it), then the best time to visit is in February, when the hardiest Canadians and Alaskans take on the Yukon Quest, a gruelling 1000-mile (1,609km) sled-dog race.
Every second year the race gets off to a barking start in downtown Whitehorse (alternating with Fairbanks, Alaska) and tourists can follow the mushers as they journey across frozen lakes, into snow-laden forests and through tiny communities to one of the main pit-stops – Dawson City.
From here, the route continues west over mountain passes and into Alaska (or vice versa), and by this stage you’ll be well and truly hooked, and cheering the mushers on by name. It’s a spectacle worth getting caught up in.
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