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Yukon Territory, Canada

Great Destination:

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know…?

  • The Yukon River Quest is the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race (460 miles).
  • Simple hand mining yielded $22,275,000 in Yukon gold in 1900 alone.
  • Diamond Tooth Gerties is Canada’s northernmost legal casino.
  • About two-thirds of the territory’s people live in Whitehorse, the capital.
  • The Yukon Gold Rush provided inspiration for Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild.”

Beauty and gold

The Yukon is all about beauty and gold. It is admired for the stunning landscapes marked by mountains, pristine rivers and lakes with vistas often topped off by snow. That translates into a destination with plenty of sports activities — winter and summer — for the adventurous and hardy.

Indeed, its relative distance from the world’s more populous centers and its own sparse population enhance the Yukon’s appeal to the venturesome among us.

The Gold Rush of the 1890s really put the Yukon on the map and created the kind of lore that gives it a romantic appeal for individuals of all personality types.

Our romantic images of this northern, and golden, outpost got a boost from American author Jack London who came to the Yukon in the first winter of the rush (1897-98), drawn by the excitement and prospects of wealth.

The Yukon is Canadian but, in tour packages or privately planned trips, it is often combined with Alaska. The two share similar memories of a rush for gold plus ruggedly beautiful landscapes — not to mention the good roads that link them, such as the dramatic Top of the World Highway.

The Yukon is a larger-than-life kind of place where visitors can find all the solitude they want, see wildlife in abundance (there are twice as many moose as people), mush a dog team where Klondike explorers first traveled, hike on huge icefields or arrange quality time with the province’s original inhabitants, called First Nations in Canada.

Meals may range from a lakeshore meal of fresh-caught fish to a fine-dining experience in a city or at a wilderness lodge. Golf is another option with a twist; tourists can choose daytime play — or nighttime play under the midnight sun.

Another nice feature is the care taken to preserve the rights and cultures of its First Nations.

Adventuresome travelers, and those who enjoy traveling by auto or RV, are most likely to appreciate the grandeur and history of the Yukon. Except for those who are very hardy and well prepared for ice and cold, May through September are the best months to visit.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Learn to mush, then drive a team of huskies. Make this a multiday dogsledding trip, overnighting in log cabins or yurts. You also can sample the dogsled experience by spending a few hours riding on a sled.
  • For a real wilderness experience, choose a fly-in camp for fishing, followed by a wood-fired sauna and hot tub. Or, try your luck with ice fishing.
  • Head to the backcountry for hiking and backpacking with pack dogs; one destination could be the east shore of Lake Laberge. Or, take a multiday guided horsepacking trip.
  • Sample whitewater rafting on the Tatshenshini and Tutshi rivers.
  • Sightsee by air. For winter, the aircraft are equipped with skis for glacier landings, in summer, you can get around by floatplane.
  • Apply to perform at the winter Frostbite Music Festival. If you don’t make the cut, you can still drop in and hear other performers at the February event in Whitehorse.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Attend, and perhaps compete in, the mildly goofy Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous held in Whitehorse in February. Choices include the wife-carrying competition, a family wilderness survival contest and the hairy leg, beard and moustache growing contests. The hairy leg contest is for women, by the way.
  • Sign on for an interpretation tour, meaning a trip where you learn about any of a number of subjects as understood by native groups, such as fish and wildlife management, flora and fauna, history, survival and traditional medicine.
  • Spend the night in a Dawson City historic brothel, Bombay Peggy’s Victorian Inn and Pub.
  • Hike the Chilkoot Trail, and follow the footsteps of those 19th century adventurers who came to the territory for gold.
  • Sign on for a ranch vacation where you might sample a salmon and elk barbeque, or the ranch may offer canoeing, or trips by horseback or dogsled, depending on the season.
  • Beginner or expert, canoe on the Alsek, Firth, Nahanni, Tatshenshini and other rivers.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend the annual First Nations Commissioners’ Potlatch in Whitehorse. A potlatch is a ceremonial feast distinguished by the host’s lavish giving of gifts.
  • Play golf under the midnight sun.
  • See the Jack London Cabin and Interpretive Centre in Dawson City. It is the cabin where the American author lived during the Klondike Gold Rush.
  • Shop for traditional arts and crafts, including beadwork, baby belts, carvings, jewelry, masks, moccasins and mukluks.
  • Sample local foods, including Arctic char, smoked salmon and wild berry jams and jellies.
  • Drive one of the Yukon’s designated scenic routes. For example, the Top of the World Highway covers 79 miles between Dawson and the Alaska border, following the tops of a series of ridges well above the tree line. You’ll understand the name.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Tourism Yukon at www.travelyukon.com