With its untamed wilderness and spectacular scenery, the Yukon is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. The territory is filled with charming Gold Rush towns and strong First Nations heritage, all set against unspoilt mountain landscapes teeming with wildlife. If you’re considering a trip, here’s some advice and travel tips for travelling in Yukon to prepare for your visit.
Best time to go – Winter/Spring
When to travel to Yukon depends on how you want to enjoy your time. From November to April, the average temperature is a high of -13.3°C and can drop to -22°C overnight. In the height of winter, you may see as few as 4.5 hours of daylight, which increases to as many as 15 daylight hours in early spring. If you anticipate enjoying the cold weather and limited daylight, winter is a great time to experience the local culture and take part in adventures such as ice fishing, dog sledding and snowmobiling. Spring is also beautiful in the wilderness, as colourful blooms cover the landscape.
Best time to go – Summer/Fall
From May to October, you’re going to experience slightly warmer temperatures of 20.5°C to 4.3°C with night drops of 7.7°C to -3.1°C. The fall and summer typically experience 10 to 20 hours of daylight, so there’s plenty of time for adventures. The fall foliage, hiking trails and canoe trips on the river are the main draws for visitors during these seasons. The summer is typically warm and dry, so it’s the best time to see local wildlife.
How to get there
If you’re going to the Yukon Territory, there are plenty of ways to get there. You can take regular flights from Whitehorse to Vancouver via Air Canada, and Air North offers service from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to Whitehorse. The local airport is the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, which is 7 kilometres from downtown Whitehorse.
You could also take a cruise or ferry into Yukon from Vancouver or Prince Rupert in British Columbia. When you arrive in Skagway, Alaska, you can connect with bus lines or trains to get into Whitehorse.
The First Nations
The First Nations heritage is strong in Yukon. Archaeological evidence shows First Nations people on the land as far back as 12,000 years, but it’s believed that they’ve always lived there. Of the 14 Yukon First Nations, 11 have signed self-government agreements that allow them social and economic management. If you’re travelling to Yukon, it’s important to research the First Nations in the area to know before you go and ensure you show reverence for their culture and land.
Wildlife in Yukon
The Yukon has a diverse ecosystem with an array of creatures large and small. Grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, marmots and other fascinating wildlife call the territory home. Plenty of freshwater fish can be found in the Yukon River and its tributaries, including an abundance of salmon. If you want to experience the wildlife in Yukon, it’s best to know before you go and stay aware of where you’re most likely to encounter wild herds and packs. Summer is the best time to see most of the animals in Yukon.
Spotting the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a huge traveller draw all over the world. The Yukon experiences stunning Northern Lights, a spectacular phenomenon that occurs when the weather conditions are just right. Ideally, the Northern Lights appear in clear, dark skies without cloud cover, so the best time to spot them is during the fall and winter months. Tour companies offer Northern Lights tours that take you to the best spots at the best times in hopes of catching this stunning natural spectacle, giving you the advantage of things you wish you knew for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Gold Rush towns
The Klondike Gold Rush was a significant historic event and remains a strong part of the local heritage. Dawson City was the centre of the Klondike Gold Rush and has many of its original businesses, so it’s well worth the trip. You can tour the Dawson City Museum to learn about the gold rush and the First Nations people, or you can try your own hand at prospecting at Claim 33 Gold Panning and get a new appreciation for this important era in history.
Whitehorse is Yukon’s capital city and a great base camp for exploring all the sights and attractions of the territory. You’re going to find numerous accommodation options throughout Whitehorse, as well as fun things to do. You could visit the MacBride Museum of Yukon History to learn more about the natural and cultural influences on the city, or you may want to stop by the Yukon Wildlife Preserve to see a variety of native species like moose and foxes. The Yukon Transportation Museum is another great attraction with transport relics in a scenic area.
Experience it all on the Yukon River
The Yukon River spans 3,000 kilometres through the Yukon and was instrumental in the Klondike Gold Rush. If you want to experience the best of the Yukon in one trip, a boat tour down the Yukon River will take you past stunning wilderness and abundant wildlife on a ride from Whitehorse to Dawson City. This gives you a chance to take in the scenery and the cultural attractions of the city, so you’re sure not to miss out on anything.
Food and drink
If you’re going to Yukon, you’ll want to experience as much of the local culinary culture as possible. Many restaurants serve traditional First Nations cuisine like wild game and fresh-caught fish, as well as locally grown produce. You’ll find unique menu options like fish and chips and barbecued elk.
In Whitehorse, there’s a rich mix of casual and high-end dining options with international flavours. You can have everything from wild game to sushi to fine French dishes. Some of the delicacies in the territory include porcupine, caribou and moose, and the gold-mining heritage is reflected in dishes like musk ox chops.
Ready for your trip?
From its wild, picturesque landscape to its native culture and rich history, Yukon is a fascinating destination for all types of travellers. Now that you have all this essential information before visiting Yukon, you’re ready to plan your adventure. Check out Expedia to get great deals on Yukon hotels and make the most of your time!