16 April 2015 by Patrick Griffin
There are many reasons to visit the vast, wild expanse of the Yukon in the summer. One of the main attractions is that during the summer months, from May - August, the sun never sets, meaning wildflowers bloom, migratory birds gather, and wildlife flourishes.
With an expansive landmass of almost half a million square kilometres, but only 32,000 people, it's easy to see why the Yukon is the perfect place to disconnect from stressful modern life, and reconnect with nature.
To make the most of the Yukon in the summer, it's important to harness the long hours of bright sunshine, and head out into the tundra. One of the best ways to explore the wilderness is by hitting the roads, and embarking on a self-drive on one of the province's iconic roads.
Other top summer activities include taking a river canoe trip. Whether you opt for a self-led or guided tour, there's no better way of getting back to basics, and admiring the provinces rich flora and fauna whilst gliding along in peace. With the highest population of grizzlies in the whole of Canada, you're sure to see some breath taking sights.
The Yukon is famous for being the land of the midnight sun, where the skies are gloriously bright, and the summer lasts from May to August. During the summer, the sun almost never sets, meaning life flourishes, and millions of migratory birds, species of wildlife, and wildflower fill the land.
On the summer solstice - June 21 - the sun doesn't set and shines throughout the night. The further north you travel, the higher the sun and the longer the season of the midnight sun, making a trip to the tiny aboriginal town of Old Crow fantastic in the summer months.
Throughout the summer, there are many festivals celebrating the long hours of sunlight. In Dawson City, and throughout Canada, the solstice is recognised each year as National Aboriginal Day. The Danoja Zho Cultural Centre celebrates with a wide variety of family-friendly activities, such as live music, jigging contests, and face painting.
To see the midnight sun, take our Yukon & Alaska Explorer tour
Bears and Other Wildlife in the Yukon
In a land where moose outnumber people two to one, there's so much wonderful wildlife to see in the Yukon. In the summer months, you'll see many moose, bears, elk, bison, and sheep.
But above all, the Yukon is the ideal place to view bears. With 30 per cent of Canada's population of grizzlies, you're in with a very good chance of spotting them in their natural habitat. The best areas to see them by car are along the Dempster Highway, the Atlin Road, the Haines Road or the Alaska Highway. They can also be spotted by river, or when hiking through the alpine habitat.
As well as grizzlies, you'll also get the opportunity to see the black bear, which tends to live in forested areas. More rarely, there will be opportunities of viewing polar bears, but they're only spotted on the North Slope and Herschel Island.
To see grizzlies in the Yukon, take our Discover Yukon tour
There's nothing better than hitting the open road on an iconic self-drive through the Yukon. With scenic drives networked across the province, there are many highways that rank among the world's premier driving adventures.
By road, the Yukon has so much to offer, from postcard scenery, to historic communities, cultural attractions, and adventurous outings. Some of the top drives include the Golden Circle, which travels through picturesque Yukon towns and alpine passes to the Alaska Panhandle; and the Silver Trail, which passes through moose habitat and scenic views of the Stewart River.
Perhaps the most famous trip is driving the Dempster - Canada's only all-weather road across the Arctic Circle. One of the most unique driving routes in the world, it's an unpaved two-lane highway offering ultimate escapism, access to the tundra, and expansive views.
To experience a self-drive through the Yukon, take our Discover the Yukon self-drive
One of the most fascinating aspects of Yukon's cultural heritage is the Klondike Gold Rush, which occurred in 1896. A stampede was created down to Klondike when prospectors found gold in a creek near Dawson City. It soon became a busy frontier town, which filled up with prospectors, entrepreneurs, Mounties and dancehall girls.
Today, Dawson City still maintains much of its heritage charm, with its bustling historical sites and attractions in tact. When there you can learn about the history of the gold rush, with interpreters in authentic dress showing you around while you try your hand at blackjack, gambling, or wilderness adventures.
There's more to the history and culture of the Yukon than the Klondike gold rush, however. Whether you're interested in going to a national aboriginal day, Canada day celebrations in Whitehorse, or a riverside arts festival in the Yukon, there's something for everyone in this vast and colourful province.
To visit Dawson City, take our Yukon & Alaska Explorer self-drive
River Canoe Trips
A fantastic way to explore the Yukon in the summer is to take a river canoe trip. There are two types to choose from, either a guided or non-guided tour. Routes are varied and expansive, allowing you to explore parts of the Yukon otherwise out of reach. Either travel the Yukon River, the Teslin River, the Nisutlin River, or the Big Salmon river to see the unusual elements of the province.
A guided trip brings you the ease of having the planning and preparation already done for you, as well as all the necessary equipment. It also give you the peace of mind that a professional can demonstrate everything you need to know as you go along. Take trips that last from one - 15 days, on routes varying from Whitehorse to Little Salmon Village, to the Pelly River.
Take a self-guided trip if you'd rather take your own path. Try travelling up the Yukon River, which is best known for guiding gold seekers during the Klondike Gold Rush. On your trip you'll see several steamers, old cabins, and gold dredgers on the banks of the river. Stretching all the way from the Bering Strait to the Southern Yukon, it's 3,000 miles long. The route can be broken down into more manageable chunks, and you can travel from Whitehorse to Dawson, for example, or just from Carmacks to Dawson City.
To take a river canoe trip in the Yukon, take our Yukon Canoe Expedition
If you're in the Yukon in the summer, get stuck in to some outdoors activities whilst breathing the fresh air deeply. Hiking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are all fantastic and invigorating ways to explore.
Take a guided hiking trip of the Yukon, a great location for this being in the beautiful Kluane National Park - full of nature and wildlife. The park lies adjacent to Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, and the Tatshenshini Provincial Park making the largest land preserve on the planet.
Another lovely way to explore the Yukon in the summer is to take a fishing trip, especially a guided one. It allows you to have a day on the water without doing any manual work - no paddling involved! There are some fantastic and popular fishing spots, where you can fish for arctic grayling, lake trout, northern pike, rainbow trout, inconnu or whitefish. Finally, don't forget to do some mountain biking! It's a particularly fun way to make the most of the midnight sun.
To get active in the Yukon, take our Discover the Yukon tour