The 13 best places to visit in the Yukon Territory
In the eastern centre of the Yukon Territory, close to the border with Alaska is the town of Dawson City, inseparably linked to the Klondike Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century. With several preserved frontier style buildings, the Dawson Historical Complex is a national historic site encompassing the historic core of the town. All new constructions must comply to visual standards, matching the appearance of 19th century buildings.
The biggest attraction in town is found in the Downtown Hotel, in the shape of a drink known as the Sourtoe Cocktail. The drink features a real mummified human toe.
13. Dawson City
North of the capital, Whitehorse, is the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, a non profit conservation area that allows visitors to see some North American wildlife in its natural habitat without getting lost in the wilderness. Walk, ski or bike the 5 kilometre (3 mile) trail for a chance to spot caribou, Canada lynx, Rocky Mountain elk, mountain goats, moose, mule deer, muskoxen, wood bison, thin horn sheep and arctic foxes in their natural habitat.
12. Yukon Wildlife Preserve
In the south west of the Yukon Territory, north of the border with British Columbia and Alaska is the capital of Yukon, Whitehorse, the only city in the Yukon Territory and the largest city in northern Canada. Within the Whitehorse Valley on the banks of the Yukon River, situated along the Alaska Highway, the town is framed by three nearby mountains, Grey Mountain, Haeckel Hill and Golden Horn Mountain. The biggest attraction in the area is undoubtedly Miles Canyon, situated south of the city on the Yukon River. Whitehorse holds the record for having the least air pollution in the world.
Pictured is the SS Klondike. Built in 1929, the sternwheeler is now a national historic site permanently on display on the Yukon River.
Starting just across the border in Alaska, crossing into the Yukon Territory towards Dawson City is the 127 kilometre (79 mile) Yukon Highway 9, more commonly referred to as the Top Of The World Highway. Existing since around 1955, the highway got its name because it crosses a crest of hills looking down into valleys for almost its entire length.
10. Top Of The World Highway
South of the capital, Whitehorse, just north of the border with British Columbia is the Carcross Desert, measuring 2.6 square kilometres (1 square mile) it is often thought to be the smallest desert in the world. Whether it is a desert or just a small area of northern sand dunes, this unusual area within beautiful mountain and lake scenery is a wonderful sight to behold.
9. Carcross Desert
Starting in Haines, Alaska, crossing through a small portion of British Columbia towards Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, where it eventually leads onto the Alaska Highway, is the Yukon Highway 4, better known as the Haines Highway. Following the route of the old Dalton Trail, the road cuts its way along great forested terrain with incredible mountain vistas, earning a reputation as one of the most scenic drives in North America.
8. Haines Highway
In the far north west of the Yukon Territory, straddling the Arctic Ocean in the north and the border with Alaska in the west is the 10,168 square kilometre (3,926 square mile) Ivvavik National Park. Flowing from the British Mountains through extensive canyons into the delta of the Beaufort Sea is the Firth River, considered to be one of the great rafting rivers in the world. Created as a result of an aboriginal land claims agreement, the park protects many cultural sites that are important to the local indigenous Inuit and Indian people. Because of the protected status of the land, the park only allows a minimal number of visitors a year.
7. Ivvavik National Park
Starting to the east of Dawson City off the Klondike Highway and extending some 736 kilometres (457 miles) northward to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories is the Yukon Highway 5, more commonly known as the Dempster Highway. With no intersections along its entire length, the highway cuts along some incredible terrain, including passing through the beautiful Tombstone Territorial Park and crossing the Ogilvie and Richardson Mountain Ranges. One of the most northerly highways in North America, it is regarded to be one of the planets best driving routes.
6. Dempster Highway
South of the capital, Whitehorse, just north of the Carcross Desert close to the border with British Columbia is the Emerald Lake, often regarded to be one of the most picturesque spots in the Yukon Territory. Notable for its intense green colour deriving from light reflecting off the clay and calcium deposits at the bottom of the shallow waters, the lakes forested and mountain backdrop creates the perfect idyllic scene.
5. Emerald Lake
Within the St. Elias Mountains of Kluane National Park, nestled approximately 1,800-2,700 metres (6,000-9000 ft) above sea level is the Kaskawalsh Glacier, a vast temperate valley glacier that covers more than 39,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles). Visiting the glacier on foot requires traversing the Slims River West Trail, which follows the Slims River for about 32 kilometre (20 miles) before ending at the summit of Observation Mountain at the southern edge of the glacier. The reward for this long hike is an out of this world view of the Kaskawalsh Glacier and the snow capped mountains behind it.
4. Kaskawalsh Glacier
In the west of Kluane National Park on the eastern side of the St. Elias Mountains is the enormous Donjek Glacier, offering visitors one of the most up close and personal glacier face experiences possible. The Donjek Route is an unmarked, non-maintained wilderness trail that should not be attempted by the ordinary hiker. Crossing the Burwash Uplands, the difficult route requires traversing fast moving rivers with the potential for rock falls, rapidly changing weather conditions and grizzly bear encounters. For those that complete the hike, the reward is the unbelievable experience of standing in front of the towering ice wall of the Donjek Glacier.
3. Donjek Glacier
North of Dawson City in the west of the Yukon Territory is the 2,100 square kilometre (810 square mile) Tombstone Territorial Park, named after the distinctive Mount Tombstone, said to bear a striking resemblance to a grave marker. Geologically unique, the protected landscape is one of rugged peaks and permafrost land formations that encompass sections of the Blackstone Uplands and Ogilvie Mountains. With a number of hiking trails leading into the park, the most notable landmarks for trekkers include Mount Monolith, Tombstone Mountain and the Glissade Pass, among some of the most unique and picturesque rugged terrain of North America.
2. Tombstone Territorial Park
In the extreme south west of the Yukon Territory, straddling the border with Alaska and British Columbia is the 22,013 square kilometre (8,499 square mile) Kluane National Park. Encompassing an area of the St. Elias Mountains, the park is home to the 5,959 metre (19,551 ft) Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak. Dominated by mountains and glaciers, the park also covers an area of forest and tundra, making for some of the Yukon's most perfect natural untouched scenery. Connected across the borders with the Alaskan Wrangell St. Elias and Glacier Bay National Parks, and British Columbia's Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, this vast landscape that includes Kluane National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.