Yukoners are an adventurous bunch — living near the top of the planet surrounded by remote wilderness and the largest mountains in Canada tends to make you that way! Their home, the Yukon, is one of extremes, with a sun that shines more than 20 hours each day during summer and winters that can reach temperatures of minus -22 degrees Fahrenheit. These extremes bring with them outdoor experiences that are amplified to a grand scale.
Sound appealing? Here are five ways you can live like a Yukoner (if only for a day).
1. Learn how to mush
Mushing a dog sled across a frozen Yukon lake, with the only sound being happy, panting canines, is truly the stuff of bucket-lists. Sign up for the wilderness adventure of a lifetime at Sky High Wilderness Ranch, just 30 minutes from the capital city of Whitehorse, set on spectacular Fish Lake. Get to know your team of huskies and learn how to manage them, before setting off on a week-long winter camping expedition that will take you back to the early days of transportation by dog sled.
2. Take a hike
The long (sometimes 24 hours long!) summer days of Yukon mean one thing to many locals: time to hike! Lace up those boots and retrace the steps of the gold prospectors from more than 100 years ago, as they made their way to the Klondike goldfields via the Chilkoot Trail. Spend a day trekking through Tombstone National Park, known for its black granite peaks, idyllic alpine lakes and subarctic tundra landscapes, or become one with the wilderness during a multi-day hike on the Cottonwood Trail through the Dalton Range of Kluane National Park. Catch your breath as you gaze upon the dramatic peaks of the St Elias Mountains, the highest mountains in Canada, with more than 20 summits over 13,700 feet high.
3. Pitch a tent
Yukoners love to immerse themselves in the abundance of nature found in the Territory, and there’s no better way to experience it than by pitching a tent. Rent all your required gear in Whitehorse, or hire an RV and head out to any of Yukon’s tranquil camping sites. Stay at Kathleen Lake, nestled at the edge of Kluane National Park, where you’ll spend your days fishing and hiking. Or head north to Kluane Lake for truly exceptional scenery and a chance to spot one of the local furry residents – grizzly and black bears, and moose. Dawson City, a scenic six-hour drive from Whitehorse, has several campgrounds, offering the perfect base for a journey rich in gold rush history and outdoor fun. Find out more about camping in Yukon here.
4. Paddle your heart out
With 70 wilderness rivers and scenic lakes to choose from, it’s little wonder Yukon is the world’s finest paddling destination. True Yukoners are equally comfortable paddling the pristine water-ways as they are on land. But you don’t have to be a hard-core canoeist or kayaker to experience the beauty of these watery channels. The historic Yukon River is a great place to begin. Starting from downtown Whitehorse, cruise by old relics of steamers, cabins, and gold dredges, left over from the gold seekers of the Klondike Gold Rush. This fast-flowing river passes by iconic landmarks including Lake Laberge, made famous by poet, Robert Service.
5. Mingle with the locals
To truly live like a Yukoner, you need to spend time in the capital city of Whitehorse. Home to 28,000 people, almost 78 per cent of Yukon’s entire population lives here. It might be small, but residents of Whitehorse enjoy a city lifestyle. Stroll the downtown area and expect to find great coffee, gourmet foods, and a wide variety of ethnic cuisines. Get to know the locals at the Fireweed Community Market, where local organic produce and baked goods are sold. Walk or ride the three-mile Millennium Trail that runs along the Yukon River and keep an eye out for the local wildlife. It’s not uncommon to spy bears, foxes, moose, deer, and caribou – so keep the camera ready!