Exploring Yukon, the Land of the Midnight Sun

Visiting all 13 provinces and territories of Canada is on my bucket list and so for a week in May, I went up to the Yukon Territory with some friends to not only get away from the hustle and bustle of big city Vancouver, but also to explore a truly picturesque part of Canada.

| Photo courtesy of Simon Yee.

On our first full day in Whitehorse, my group wanted to hit the ground hiking and so we hiked the 15 km long Miles Canyon Loop. The canyon has a long history as part of the Klondike Gold Rush. Its narrow channels, jagged rocks and swift currents made it treacherous to navigate and waterway traffic had to be regulated by the Northwest Mounted Police. Today, the Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge stands as a historic landmark there, offering a connection across the canyon and serving as a reminder of the past. Hiking the trail provided me the chance to take in its wondrous beauty while retracing the steps of those who ventured through during the gold rush. The canyon’s history and natural grandeur are truly awe-inspiring.

At Kluane National Park and Reserve overlooking Dezadeash Lake. | Photo courtesy of Simon Yee.

In the city proper, I delved into the fascinating history and culture at the Yukon Transportation Museum and the MacBride Museum. It was like stepping back in time, uncovering the stories of the gold rush era and the First Nations people who have inhabited this region for centuries. The artifacts and exhibits brought the past to life, and I found myself captivated by the tales of resilience and discovery. Another highlight was visiting the Yukon Wildlife Preserve – an absolute delight! I had the chance to observe majestic creatures in their natural habitats, from the bison and caribou to the lynx and arctic foxes. It was a truly humbling experience, reminding me of the importance of conservation and our responsibility to protect these incredible animals.

For several days, my group rented a car and we took the opportunity to further explore the territory. From Whitehorse, I drove the stretch of the Klondike highway connecting Whitehorse with Skagway, Alaska – a town on the Alaskan panhandle made famous as a jumping off point for American prospectors wishing to make the trek further north into the Klondike. The highway takes you through stunning coastal mountains, offering breathtaking vistas of peaks and waterfalls, desert-like sand dunes and the historic town of Carcross, where Indigenous heritage and preserved buildings paint a vivid picture of the past. This remarkable route parallels the route prospectors took during the gold rush and it was truly a pleasure to drive it.

On another day, I drove the stretch of the Alaska Highway between Whitehorse and the Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Haines Junction is the town next to the park, and after a visit to a local bakery to eat, we explored a small part of the park, hiking some trails and taking in the amazing beauty of mountain peaks and Dezadeash Lake. The pristine waters of the lake mirrored the surrounding snow-capped peaks, creating a picture-perfect view that will forever be etched in my memory.

One regret I have about the trip is that since I visited in May, there was not enough darkness to see the Aurora Borealis. Perhaps one day I may return to Whitehorse for a couple of days in the winter, just for a chance to see it in all its splendor!