The Yukon Territory is a hidden gem in Canada’s northwest corner. It is home to only 35,000 people and stretches into the endless wilderness. The Yukon is dominated in the south by dense boreal forest and in the north by treeless tundra. It’s also dotted with rugged peaks and lakeside beaches.
At age 7, I visited the territory for a half-day on an Alaskan cruise. It was a shore excursion, so I didn’t know much about it. It blew me away when I returned as an adult.
Because of its size and lack of public transportation options, the Yukon is a great place to go on a Canadian road trip. It takes two weeks to cover most of the territory’s attractions by car. You will visit both historic towns as well as the wild wilderness.
A little northern knowledge helped me make a cheap summer road trip to the area. You can also use this guide which includes all the most popular sights and some fun surprises! ).
Whitehorse is the Yukon’s capital and the largest city. It houses approximately 70% of the territory’s population. It is the hub of all major highways. Most rental car agencies are located here. The Erik Nielsen International Airport provides direct flights to all areas of Canada, Alaska, and Frankfurt, Germany.
Whitehorse is a sort of Austin or Portland of North; it’s one of the hippest places I’ve ever seen in Western Canada. There are many things to do in Whitehorse, which has three fun days.
- Get some local history. The four-story MacBride Museum of Yukon History downtown focuses on every aspect of the territory with exhibits about the wildlife, art and Indigenous peoples, as well as the Alaska Highway and the Klondike Gold Rush.
- Hike Miles Canyon – South of town, the Yukon River carved a deep canyon that is now home to a network of hiking and biking trails. Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge anchors all. Nearly every local I spoke with said that the bright blue water here provides the best view in town.
- Enjoy the Fireweed Market – If you are lucky enough to visit the largest outdoor market in the area on a Thursday night in summer, stop by. The market is a great mix of local vendors, food trucks, bakers and musicians that rivals the Toronto markets. Be sure to get there early as some local favorites can sell quickly.
- Iditarod sled dogs – Dog lovers rejoice! You can find local champions for sled dogs in Whitehorse, who will be happy to give kennel visits or training runs with a team of race-ready huskies. You can also visit the kennel in summer, provided you are prepared to race on an ATV. I used Alayuk Adventures near Mt. Lorne has nothing but praise for Marcelle and her dogs.
- The S.S. Klondike – This historic tour ship, operated by Parks Canada, is now permanently dry-docked beside the river where it once plied. It gives you a history lesson on the long, haphazard history and achievements of Yukon River paddle wheelers while being on board the largest ever built.
Where can I stay
- Town & Mountain Hotel — lodging is expensive for all things in the Yukons. However, this hotel on Main Street offers a fair price, free parking, and a lounge.
- Beez Kneez Bakpakers – The only hostel in Whitehorse that offers free Wi-Fi and laundry service, Beez Kneez has all the perks you could want, such as free coffee and a fully equipped kitchen.
Tip – Get gas before you leave major cities. It can be up to half the price at smaller stations in remote areas. You also don’t want the Yukon wilderness to run out of fuel. You can drive hundreds of kilometers between gas stations in the north, so make sure to fill up wherever possible.
Dawson City had a population that was more than the whole Yukon Territory at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. It is a classic boomtown that has kept its heritage intact, with its authentic dirt roads, wood plank sidewalks, and turn-of-the-century buildings.