The capital of Canada’s Yukon province, Whitehorse is heaven for hikers, full of history and also hosts a surprising array of cultural events.
The Yukon was at the centre of one of history’s great gold rushes in the late nineteenth century, and Whitehorse has retained many buildings from the era, which demonstrate how wealthy the area became. See the SS Klondike, a steam ship which travelled down the Yukon River and visit the MacBride Museum which contains exhibits about the gold rush period.
Nowadays, the region is attracting lovers of beautiful scenery (and hearty Canadian food). Hike in gorgeous locations like Miles Canyon, climb Grey Mountain or try the easier Millennium Trail which loops back into Whitehorse. If the weather doesn’t hold, just head to the Canada Games Centre to enjoy ice skating and other indoor sports, or sample some of the city’s wide range of excellent restaurants.
Whitehorse enjoys long nights during the summer (June to late August) and this makes it the ideal place for music festivals. The Frostbite Festival has acquired a reputation across North America, while there is also a unique Yukon International Storytelling Festival which offers great entertainment for families.
In the winter months, the area around town is a fine cross-country skiing territory, and there are long specially groomed trails to follow. Visitors can also refresh themselves at the washroom and sauna of the Cross Country Ski Club (which also offers great mountain biking opportunities come summer time). Winter is also prime time for witnessing the stunning spectacle of the Northern Lights.
Kids will also adore the wildlife of the region. Take a tour of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve to see elk, moose and arctic foxes or visit the Beringia Centre to see reconstructed skeletons of woolly mammoths, who used to roam the Yukon landscape.
The winter months (November through until March) are the time to go if you love skiing and want to witness the beauty of the Northern Lights. However, Yukon can get pretty cold, which may not suit everyone. Visiting in July and August offers outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing, as well as music festivals in the long warm evenings. Try May for a balance with good weather and cheap accommodation.
The city has a good bus service which runs into the countryside, but it’s best not to rely on being able to reach the canyons and streams of the Yukon by bus. A far better idea is to rent a rugged four wheel drive vehicle. In summer, there are well marked bike trails and bike hire is extremely cheap.