When it comes to wild places, few can top the Yukon, Canada. It’s one of the most beautiful and stunning destinations I’ve ever visited. With spectacular Northern Light shows, a rich living First Nations history, and lakes, forests and icefields as far as the eye can see, our list of 33 things to do in the Yukon, Canada, will have you packing your bags and planning a trip to this unforgettable northern territory.
Things to do in the Yukon, Canada
Wondering how to get to the Yukon? The northern Canadian territory, known for its stunning wilderness and outdoor recreational opportunities, typically involves traveling by air or road, as there are no direct international flights to the Yukon.
You can book a flight to Whitehorse International Airport (YXY) from major Canadian cities like Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. Air Canada and WestJet are the primary airlines that serve Whitehorse.
If you’re coming from British Columbia or the United States, you can drive the Alaska Highway (Route 97) through B.C. into the Yukon. The highway connects to the Alaska-Canada border at Tok, Alaska, and from British Columbia at Dawson Creek.
Things to do in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
The MacBride Museum of Yukon History
The pioneer settlement of the Yukon is closely linked to the 19th century Gold Rush. At the MacBride Museum, you can travel back in time to those glorious, chaotic days.
The Museum is located in downtown Whitehorse and tells a good history of the town, as well as Yukon’s settlement history. There are also displays of First Nations tools and beadwork. You can try your luck at gold panning, or enter the Cold Room to learn how residents survive during the frigid winter.
Don’t miss the Transportation Courtyard with The Woodchuck and the Sam McGee Cabin. The Woodchuck is a 37-foot tunnel stern workboat formerly of the British Yukon Navigation Company. And visit the real Sam McGee’s cabin to learn about the man behind the Yukon legend, written by Robert Service.
This Yukon tourist attraction is one of the best things to do in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Visit the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center
This fascinating Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center is just minutes from downtown Whitehorse. The center tells the history of the Yukon during the last ice age. That’s when the land bridge known as Beringia was still in existence.
There are interactive displays about Ice Age animals like the woolly mammoth, giant beaver and Beringian lion. As well information about the First People who lived in the area some 15,000 years ago. There are also displays of prehistoric artifacts discovered during the Gold Rush. This is a fantastic interpretive center for kids of all ages. Plan to spend at least a morning or afternoon here.
Located next to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, the Yukon Transportation Museum tells the important story of transportation during the Gold Rush that made the territory famous. It also shines an informative light on local bush pilots and their work. As well as the construction of the Alaska and Dempster Highways.
Outside of the Museum, there’s a vintage 1950s Canadian Pacific Airlines DC-3 plane on display. It’s perched on a pivoting pedestal with her nose always facing into the wind, potentially The World’s Largest Wind Vane.
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The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about the Kwanlin Dün, the first and largest First Nations group in the area.
The Centre displays rare Kwanlin Dün cultural artifacts, indigenous art, and works by other local artists. Visitors can also watch traditional music and dance performances and attend storytelling sessions.
The SS Klondike was the largest of over 250 steam-powered riverboats that used to sail the Yukon River between Dawson City and Whitehorse in the early 1900s.
Now a Canadian National Historic Site, the restored sternwheeler ship has been fully restored to its early 20th century glory and offers a fascinating glimpse back in time on guided and self-guided tours.
Experience a dog sledding tour
With its consistent cold temperatures and snowfall, the Yukon is one of other best places to experience the thrill of dog sledding in Canada.
Many half day, full day or multi-day dog sledding tours are available from operators located about 30 minutes from Whitehorse. This winter-only activity can be intense. Dog sledding requires good fitness and core strength. You may have to help the dogs up the hills by running beside the sled and times pushing the sled.
Prefer a warmer canine experience? Enjoying a guided hike with huskies is a popular thing to do in the Yukon in summer.
View the Northern Lights in the Yukon, Canada
There’s no guarantee that you’ll catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights when you visit the Yukon, but the territory is one of THE best places in Canada to see the Northern Lights.
If you’re wondering about time of year to view the Aurora, visit the Yukon between late August and mid-April. Traveling away from the city lights will increase your chances.
Visiting the Yukon in summer? You’re north of the 60th parallel, so pack your eye shades as the Midnight Sun will be in full effect from late June into early September.
Soak in Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs
Formerly known as Takhini Hot Springs, the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs are just 18 miles outside Whitehorse. They have been used for centuries by local First Nations and offer steaming hot mineral-rich waters to relax and unwind in. Camping is available onsite, and it’s also a great place to see the Northern Lights.
The stunning landscape and rushing turquoise waters of the Yukon River has carved out the impressive Miles Canyon, just a few minutes from downtown Whitehorse. The linear sides of the canyon cliffs are home to some of the best hikes in the Yukon. Tip: When hiking in summer, don’t forget your bear spray. You’re in grizzly country in the Yukon.
There are spectacular views from the 1922 suspension bridge, and the canyon is also an excellent location for mountain biking and cross-country skiing in winter.
If you’re a nature and animal lover, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve is a must visit, undoubtedly one of the best things to do in the Yukon.
Just 30 minutes drive outside of Whitehorse, you can see many of the region’s animals, including caribou, moose, foxes and lynx. Explore the preserve on foot via the preserve’s 5 km loop foot around the animal enclosures, or take a guided bus tour.
The facility is open all year round, and in winter, visitors are welcome to ski or snowshoe through the preserve.
Whether you want to spend a week exploring the Yukon River or go paddling for an hour or two, this exhilarating adventure is one of the best outdoor things to do in the Yukon.
There are many canoe rental shops and guided tours with varying lengths to choose from. All offer an unforgettable paddling experience to suit your schedule and budget.
Every spring, Chinook salmon undertake an epic 3,000 km journey from the Pacific Ocean back to their spawning grounds in the Yukon River.
You can watch this unforgettable spectacle as the fish climb the Whitehorse Fish Ladder and learn more about their incredible journey as you view the fish from an underwater window. How cool is that?
Take a side trip to Atlin, British Columbia
I realize that Atlin is not in the Yukon, but fun fact, you can only get to this small, isolated community by car from the Yukon, traveling about 180 km south from Whitehorse via Highway 7.
Atlin is situated on the shores of Atlin Lake, with stunning views of surrounding mountains. The small community is rich in artistic residents and hosts an annual music festival in July.
It’s a great launch point to get into BC’s remote backcountry, including visiting the famed Llewellyn Glacier by boat or plane.
Things to do in and around Kluane National Park, Yukon
Whether you want to go hiking, backpacking or just enjoy the breathtaking vistas, Kluane National Park is one of the best places to visit in Yukon.
In this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find both Canada’s tallest mountain and the world’s largest non-polar glacier. There are also opportunities for all sorts of outdoor activities, from mountaineering and boating to bird watching and fishing.
See the impressive National Park from a different viewpoint with a flightseeing tour over the Kluane National Park Icefield.
Not only will you soar around some of Canada’s highest mountains – hello Mount Logan! – but there may even be the chance to land on the world’s largest non-polar icefield, which is comprised of several glaciers.
The Hubbard Glacier is 70 miles long, the Lowell Glacier is 45 miles long, and may have sections that are one mile thick. These glaciers make their own weather, scour away tonnes of rock every day, dam rivers and create lakes.
From the air, the sea of ice appears to stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s an unforgettable sight.
Visit Da Kų Cultural Centre
The Da Kų Cultural Centre is located at Haines Junction, within the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and near Kluane National Park.
It displays modern and traditional artworks and celebrates the culture of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, who have lived in this area for thousands of years.
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Things to do in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
Five Finger Rapids is the perfect stopping point along Highway 2 between Whitehorse to Dawson City. Stretch your legs on the 2 km walking trail leading to a scenic viewpoint on cliffs overlooking the famous Yukon River rapids.
You’ll find the Dawson City Museum right in the heart of Klondike territory in Dawson City. It’s one of the best Yukon tourist attractions and a great way to get a sense of the area’s history.
The museum is filled with information, artifacts, and exhibits about Dawson City’s Klondike Gold Rush days and about the First Nations people who’ve lived in the area for generations. You can also watch a demonstration of gold pouring and explore historic mining locomotives.
If you visit Dawson City during the summer, the Jack London Museum is well worth a visit. It’s a tiny museum dedicated to the life and works of Jack London, author of the classic book, White Fang. Historical archives, photographs, and interactive exhibits bring London’s adventures as a gold seeker and author to life.
Experience Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall in the Yukon
Canada’s oldest casino opened in 1971 and still retains some of the charm of the Klondike Gold Rush era.
Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall operates a casino, cabaret and performs rollicking can-can shows that transport guests back to Klondike days and feel like something out of a classic Western. You must be over 19 years old to visit this casino.
This is a must do in Dawson City! Sure, it sounds a little disgusting, but it’s a Dawson City tradition to try this famous Sourtoe Cocktail, made from your preferred shot of alcohol and a mummified human toe.
Visit the Sourdough Saloon in downtown Dawson City to try this unique Yukon experience. And remember you don’t have to eat the toe – just let it touch your lip as you drink the shot.
You can enjoy a gold panning tour at an active gold mine and learn how to pan for gold in this beautiful setting. You might even find a few precious flakes of gold.
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is an international effort between Canada and the United States to preserve the landscapes, buildings, and artifacts of the late 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush. There are several historic sites and buildings in Washington, Alaska and the Yukon territory dedicated to this effort.
In the Yukon, the Chilchoot Trail National Historic Site includes the legendary 53 km/33 mile recreational Chilkoot Trail, a newly designated National Historical Trail. The challenging route passes through boreal forest and tundra, replicating the path that prospectors once took to reach Bennett Lake in British Columbia, a former thriving gold rush town.
Ten miles from Dawson City lies Bonanza Creek, the historic site of the original claim that led to the Klondike Gold Rush. You can’t go gold panning at the Discovery Claim, as it lies on private land, but you can do some free panning at Claim 6, around 10 miles along Bonanza Road.
Dredge No. 4 was built in 1912 and mined placer gold until 1959. It’s now a National Historic Site and the biggest gold dredge of its kind in North America. A tour of the site is a great way to learn about the history of the Klondike Mining Company.
For stunning views over the Yukon River, Klondike Valleys, and Ogilvie Mountains, you must head to the 1700 ft high Midnight Dome. This viewpoint is only around 15 minutes outside Dawson City by car, or you could hike there if you’re feeling energetic. The views are incredible, so take plenty of photos here.
Also known as the Dawson City Ferry, this free ferry service will take you across the Yukon River to the Top of the World Highway.
It’s a great way to start a Yukon road trip adventure. The ferry runs 24/7 between mid-May and mid-October, except between 5 AM and 7 AM on Fridays when it’s closed for servicing.
The Dempster Highway, Yukon, Canada
Tombstone Territorial Park can be found around 75 km up the Dempster Highway from Dawson City. It lies within the Traditional Territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, and the remote landscape has excellent hiking trails, rugged mountains, and colorful leaf displays in the fall.
There are plenty of campgrounds and an Interpretive Center, which offers guided walks and a gift shop.
Things to do in and around Carcross, Yukon, Canada
Carcross was home to the Tagish and Tlingit First Nations for generations before becoming known as one of the territory’s original gold rush towns.
The visitor information centre can provide maps for a self-guided walking tour, and there are fascinating historic buildings covered in stunning and colorful First Nations murals. There are also totem poles and informative First Nations exhibits to discover in the town.
Stop at some of the local vendor stalls to sample and purchase unique products like sweet fireweed jelly or savory dried mushrooms and caribou jerky.
You might not expect to find a desert in Northern Canada, but the Carcross Desert may (or may not be, depending on who you talk to) the world’s smallest desert.
The scenic sand dunes north of the 60th parallel are located just outside Carcross on the South Klondike Highway. It’s a tiny space, just over one square mile, and home to some unusual flora and fauna. The area’s plant life includes the exceptionally rare Baikal Sedge (which is normally found only off the coast of Lake Baikal in Siberia), and the Yukon Lupine.
Visitors can walk over in the dunes, but be mindful that this is a fragile environment, so take care as you explore this unique landscape.
Located north of Whitehorse, along the South Klondike Highway, the cool green waters of Emerald Lake are one of the iconic sights of the Yukon.
Although you can’t take a boat out or fish on the water at this glacial lake, it’s a popular Yukon tourist attraction where visitors go to snap a photo, hike, or enjoy some beautiful leaf peeping during fall.
The abandoned town of Bennett lies on the shores of Bennett Lake. Once a thriving settlement, but now deserted, you can get there either by hiking, by boat, or on a historic steam train on the White Pass & Yukon Railway.
You can also camp at Bennett Lake as part of the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site. But there are no facilities at the Bennett Camp, so be sure to take everything you need for your stay.
Visit quirky Watson Lake, Yukon, Canada
Watson Lake is along the Alaska Highway just north of the border with British Columbia. The small community is famous for its fun Sign Post Forest, which is a big draw for travelers.
It’s become a tradition for travelers to bring their own signs and post them for others to enjoy. Take a trip around the world as you explore tens of thousands of signs – everything from license plates to way finding signs – from every corner of the globe.
Tip: If you’re the type to plan way ahead, book your trip for 2042. That’s the year Watson Lake will open a time capsule that was buried in the forest during the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1992.
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Have you been to the Yukon? Share your favorite thing to see or do in the comments below.
Photo credits: Claudia Laroye. Video and sourtoe cocktial photo courtesy Travel Yukon.