Top 10 Tips For Your Best Whitehorse, Yukon Trip
If you’re thinking about visiting Whitehorse for the first time, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options you have for recreation, adventure, food, culture, relaxing, and lodging.
So, to get you started, we’ve put together our top ten tips for making the most of a visit to this wonderful place. As someone who moved to Whitehorse from Germany 6 years ago, with a wife born in China, we think we have a good understanding of what it’s like to be both new, and to be insiders.
The best news: you can start most of these activities within just a few kilometres of Whitehorse.
Here, in no particular order, are our top ten tips for your best trip to Whitehorse in the fabulous Yukon.
Walk along the Yukon River
You may or may not already know that there is a beautiful river that runs through Whitehorse, named the Yukon River. Along this river are many scenic trails that provide a great escape for any outdoor lovers looking to get their fill of fresh air. During the summer months, you can find mountain biking trails, hiking trails, and dog-friendly paths that continue up 15 kilometres long. You’ll see rolling hills, rock formations with informative signs to teach you about their history, and, of course, an up-close, personal view of the river itself.
The main trailheads to the Yukon River Trail Loop are easy to find:
– The south trailhead entrance is located near Miles Canyon, about 10km from downtown Whitehorse.
– The north trailhead entrance is located near the Rotary Centennial Bridge, about 3km south of downtown Whitehorse.
Need directions, and without a phone? Just ask a local. We’re really friendly.
Explore local history, like the SS Klondike Sternwheeler
If you enjoy learning the history of the places that you visit, you won’t leave Whitehorse disappointed. In and around the city, you’ll find museums filled with art, artifacts, industry, and history of the Yukon’s First Nations and early settlers.
The MacBride Museum has two locations: One is downtown, and one is on the northern outskirts of the city.
At the downtown location, you can:
- View different historical objects in the many galleries
- See art from the region (including northern light icicles)
- Get up to speed on how Whitehorse came to be what it is today
At the northern location, named the Macbride Copperbelt Mining museum, you can:
- Educate yourself on all things copper mining
- Entertain your kids (and yourself, for that matter) with an interactive presentation featuring a mining train
Finally, board the S.S. Klondike riverboat, see how this old-timey vessel worked, and learn about the people who spent their days cruising down the river. Since the S.S. Klondike is by the river downtown, you can easily carry on exploring once you’re done. The many nearby river trails along the water will give you a chance to get some exercise while learning from informative signs along the way.
See Miles Canyon
Miles Canyon is a must-see if you’re a fan of natural beauty. The site formed 8.5 million years ago, where the Yukon river cut its way through the cracks of cooled basalt lava to form what is now the Miles Canyon. Located just 10km away from downtown Whitehorse, this popular stop is a treat for the senses. Feast your eyes on the aquamarine-coloured water, feast your ears on the roaring rapids, and explore the suspension bridge that connects one part of the river to the other.
Hike Fish Lake
If you’re looking to get outside, reconnect with nature, and maybe see some spectacular landscapes along the way, then this one’s for you.
Only 45 minutes into your journey, you’ll make your way past the tree line, and experience photo-ready panoramic views of Fish Lake, Bonneville Lakes, and the boundary mountain ranges. Though this is deemed a moderate hike, come prepared for an incline. The trail will take you on a 10.5km loop with a 500m elevation gain, summiting at a whopping 1420m above sea level. But don’t worry; the scenery will be worth it.
Do a tour and experience the Klondike Gold Rush
In August of 1896, an American prospector named George Carmack discovered pockets of gold along bonanza creek, in Dawson City. He and his group soon realized they had hit the jackpot and found gold in huge quantities. Word quickly spread of this discovery, and by June the following year, nearly 100,000 people travelled from San Francisco, Seattle, and various other places. This created a boom for the economy, but unfortunately, not everyone made their fortune, and many left empty-handed.
Whitehorse is peppered with notable sites relating to the world’s greatest Gold Rush. Learn about how hundreds of thousands of people travelled to the Klondike region, hoping to try their hand at fortune by mining gold. Learn about the ripple effect this stampede of people made on the surrounding area and the people who always called this land home.
Whether you want to learn or pan for gold yourself, there’s something for you.
Soak your body in the fancy new hot springs
(Author’s note: this is still a great tip – but we’ll note that as of March 2022, the new hot springs have not opened yet – but they’ll open soon.)
There is nothing quite like soaking in a hot natural pool of water while snow falls from the sky, and steam soaks the air around you. At the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs, you can unwind and relax in the geothermal hot springs, multiple saunas, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, and even sit around fire pits to soak in this tranquil experience. Formerly known as the Takhini Hot Springs, this newly built beauty is located just 28km northwest of Whitehorse.
Observe the wildlife at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve
At the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, you can spot over 12 species of wildlife in their native environment. The Wildlife Preserve has done a fantastic job at creating unique habitats for the animals that cater to their individuality. If you find zoos cramped for every person and creature involved, you’ll notice the difference here – so prepare for a long walk. Located about a 25-minute drive north of Whitehorse, make your way here to come to see bison, moose, foxes, and more.
Do a tour of the world-famous Emerald Lake and the smallest desert in the world – Carcross Desert
Located on the South Klondike Highway, Emerald Lake lives up to its name with vibrant green and blue waters. The stunning backdrop of trees and mountains will no doubt give you a moment of pause to absorb the vibrant beauty. Just up the road, you can find the Carcross Desert, where barren dunes meet the unique backdrop of mountains. Spanning only 2.5 square kilometres, and known as the world’s smallest desert, it’s a bizarre geological phenomenon. Fun fact: our friends at EPIC NORTH Tour Experiences can help you explore both of these impressive sites. Tell them Northern Lights sent you.
Take a floatplane ride and experience the Yukon beauty from above
Change your perspective of Whitehorse – literally.
Whitehorse is just as spectacular from the air as it is from the ground. Indulge yourself and get a thrill with an air tour of the city and surrounding region. Head over to Alpine Aviation to book a 30-minute floatplane ride around Whitehorse and its surrounding mountains to fully experience the city’s beauty.
Take a canoe through the Eagle Valley on the Yukon River and enjoy peace and beauty.
If you prefer to spend your time on the water, rather than observing it from the sidelines, take advantage of the many canoeing experiences Whitehorse has to offer. During your travels down the Yukon River, you’ll have the chance to experience a slice of serenity, spot moose, observe eagles, and see the Miles Canyon from a different perspective. For a great day spent paddling down the Yukon river, visit “Kanoe People” to book your day trip. If multi-day trips sound more up your alley, then you can also visit “Kanoe People” or “Up North Adventures”, where you can row for up to 19 days!
There’s so much to do in and around Whitehorse that it could get overwhelming. We hope this list helps you plan an incredible adventure in our lovely home.
If you need a place to stay, we may have availability! Join us for comfortable accommodations, scenic rooms, and even more tips from your hosts.