Canada's Yukon is a region of mountains, lakes, glaciers and rivers, home to an abundance of wildlife including moose, elk and grizzly bears, Canada’s five tallest mountains and the world’s largest sub-Arctic ice field. It’s also a region steeped in history, with a past that speaks of Aboriginal longevity and the ephemeral nature of the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century, when an estimated 100,000 prospectors arrived in search of their fortune.
Most journeys through the Yukon begin in its capital, and largest city, Whitehorse. Spread along the banks of the Yukon River, at the crossroads of the province’s two great highways – the Alaska and the Klondike – this is a city that rewards those who scratch beneath its surface. Among its surprises are a vibrant arts scene and several heritage buildings hidden among an otherwise modern cityscape. But it’s the world beyond the city that defines this region, one that can be enjoyed under the glow of the Midnight Sun in summer and the celestial Northern Lights in winter.
The Yukon's wildlife
The glaciers and ice fields of the Kluane National Park support all manner of native wildlife, with everything from wandering herds of moose to Dall sheep and bears. With more animals than humans, a visit to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve affords chances to see wildlife indigenous to the north, including spotting otter and trout in the Yukon River with self-led or guided canoeing trips, admiring the rich flora and fauna and even spying on roaming grizzlies – the population of which is the highest of the whole of Canada. Fishing trips, hiking trails and biking routes also afford chances to spot woodland caribou, deer, bison, arctic foxes and dozens of bird species.
The Yukon's natural world
The wilds of Yukon are all rugged mountains, enormous glaciers, alpine lakes and winding trails. Harness the long hours of bright sunshine and head out into the tundra; an ultra-scenic self-drive affords chances to stop along the spectacular landscapes. And, during the summer months, the sun never sets, meaning wildflowers bloom, migratory birds gather, and the ethereal midnight sun glows among the nearly half a million square kilometres of land, home to only 32,000 people. Climb Grey Mountain's rocky ridges, valleys and alpine trails for a glimpse of capital Whitehorse, shadowed by volcanic cliffs, former gold rush towns and hot mineral springs – a wonderful setting to seek the dazzling Northern Lights. A scenic drive along the Silver Trail between Keno and Mayo showcases the province’s rich First-Nations heritage. Then there’s Dawson City, an authentic gold-rush town, reliving the Klondike Gold Rush with working saloons, theatres and Diamond Tooth Gertie's gambling house, and the starting point of the Top of the World Highway. This magnificent stretch of road brings visitors west through a landscape of barren, snow-capped peaks and across the border into neighbouring Alaska.