This vast and thinly populated wilderness, where most four-legged species far outnumber humans, has a grandeur and beauty only appreciated by experience. Few places in the world today have been so unchanged over the course of time. Aboriginal people, having eked out survival for thousands of years, hunt and trap as they always have. The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 was the Yukon's high point of population, yet even its heritage is ephemeral, easily erased by time.
Any visit will mean much time outdoors: Canada's five tallest mountains and the world's largest ice fields below the Arctic are all within Kluane National Park, while canoe expeditions down the Yukon River are epic. And don't forget the people: get set to appreciate the offbeat vibe of Dawson City and the bustle of Whitehorse, and join the growing numbers of people who've discovered the Yukon thanks to TV shows such as Yukon Gold and Dr Oakley: Yukon Vet.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Yukon Territory.
It's easy to relive the gold rush at myriad preserved and restored places. Parks Canada runs walking tours through the day that allow access to various examples of the 26 restored buildings. Take several tours so you can see a wide variety. Outside of tours, various buildings such as the Palace Grand Theatre are open for free on a rotating basis, usually 4:30pm to 5:30pm.
Carefully restored, this was one of the largest stern-wheelers used on the Yukon River. Built in 1937, it made its final run upriver to Dawson in 1955 and is now a national historic site.
Tombstone Territorial Park, which lies along Dempster Hwy for about 50km, is an easy day trip from Dawson City. Shades of green and charcoal color the wide valleys here, and steep ridges are dotted with small glaciers and alpine lakes. Summer feels tentative but makes its statement with a burst of purple wildflowers in July. Clouds sweep across the tundra, bringing squalls punctuated by brilliant sun. Stand amid this and you'll know the meaning of the sound of silence.
The scarred valleys around Dawson speak to the vast amounts of toil that went into the gold hunt. Most emblematic is Bonanza Creek, where gold was first found and which still yields some today. Dredge No 4, 13km off the Klondike Hwy, is a massive dredging machine that tore up the Klondike Valley and left the tailings, which remain as a blight on the landscape. Tours of this Parks Canada site are run by Goldbottom Tours.
In 1898 Jack London lived in the Yukon, the setting for his most popular stories, including Call of the Wild and White Fang. At the writer's cabin there are excellent daily interpretive talks. A labor of love by the late historian Dick North, Dawne Mitchell and others, this place is a treasure trove of stories – including the search for the original cabin.
Commune with an enormous, albeit stuffed, moose at the excellent Kluane Museum. Enjoy intriguing wildlife exhibits and displays on natural and Indigenous history. It may not look like much from the outside, but this is a surprising gem in terms of museums. The gift shop features works by local Yukon artists.
Some 1.5km up the valley from Dredge No 4, this national historic site is roughly where gold was first found in 1896. It's a quiet site today with a little water burbling through the rubble. A fascinating 500m-long walk passes interpretive displays. Pick up a guide at the visitor center.
This is the Yukon's pre-eminent museum, preserving and presenting the Yukon's history since 1952. Recently expanded, the museum offers a comprehensive view of the resilient people and groundbreaking events that have shaped the Yukon Territory's history and should not be missed.
One look at the surging Yukon River and you'll want to spend time strolling its bank. The beautiful White Pass & Yukon Route Station has been restored and anchors an area that's in the midst of a revitalization. Rotary Peace Park at the southern end is a great picnic spot, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre is a dramatic addition in the middle, and Shipyards Park at the northern end has a growing collection of historic structures moved here from other parts of the Yukon.