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Things to Do in the Yukon – 12 Picks

The Yukon is one of my favourite places to visit in Canada – with its grand landscapes, abundant wildlife and plenty of outdoor adventures possible, no matter what the season.

These in my opinion are 12 of the best things to do in the Yukon – most personally tested over four visits. I love this part of Canada – and I think you’ll find it a compelling part of the world to explore!!

11 of the Best Things to do in the Yukon
Beautiful Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park

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Things to do in the Yukon – 12 standout activities

Raft the Tatshenshini River

On my first trip north to the Yukon I headed off from Whitehorse to raft the Tatshenshini River. It’s considered to be one of the top 10 rivers in the world to raft.

You need about 11 days to do it and you end up traveling through the Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska. It’s a superb family trip.

"Alsek Lake - part of the Tatshenshini River trip"
Alsek Lake – part of the Tatshenshini River trip

Drive the Alaska Highway

Drive the historic Alaska Highway from Watson Lake where it enters the Yukon at the BC border to Beaver Creek at the Alaska border.

The total distance is 892 km one way. You’ll pass through Kluane National Park – home to Canada’s highest peak – Mt. Logan.

11 of the Best Things to do in the Yukon
You can see Mt Logan on a flightseeing tour

Explore the Dempster Highway

Drive or bike the Dempster Highway. It’s Canada’s only four season road that crosses the Arctic Circle. It’s 736 km (one way) of unpaved two lane highway – where you need to go prepared.

It’s takes you from Dawson City to Inuvik (and now onto Tuktoyatuk), across the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers on ferries. Don’t forget to stop in Tombstone Territorial Park to enjoy incredible hiking and backpacking trails.

Read: The Goldensides Hike in Tombstone Territorial Park

And then you're into the mountains
And then you’re into the mountains

Plan a few days of hiking in the Tombstone Mountains

Hike the Tombstone Mountains. You pass them as you drive up the Dempster Highway. The mountains are renowned for their black granite peaks, subarctic tundra and alpine lakes.

If you take a week-long hiking trip in late August you’ll be able to catch the fall colours which are truly out of this world.

Read: Hiking to Grizzly Lake in the Tombstones

Grizzly Lake in the Tombstones is even beautiful when cloudy
Grizzly Lake in the Tombstones is even beautiful when cloudy

Go grizzly bear viewing

Head off with Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures for exclusive grizzly bear viewing. Every year there is a seasonal congregation of grizzly bears at Fishing Branch in the far northern Yukon wilderness. Hiking and fishing are possible up there too.

11 of the Best Things to do in the Yukon
Catch grizzly feeding on salmon – Photo credit: Murray Feist on Flickr

Explore the Silver Trail

Drive the Silver Trail to Mayo and Keno City – historic, frontier mining towns. Hike in the Wernecke Mountains, gold pan, fish and view wildlife. Its 470 kilometres from Whitehorse – one way.

Visitors Panning for Gold - Photo credit: Dave Bezaire on Flickr
Visitors Panning for Gold – Photo credit: Dave Bezaire on Flickr

Try to catch the caribou migration

Catch up with a caribou migration. Thousands of them cross the northern calving grounds every summer. In fact if you raft the Firth River you might be lucky and time your visit to catch the full migration.

Before you go you might want to read the very interesting book – Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd by Karsten Heuer.

11 of the Best Things to do in the Yukon
On a visit to Ivvavik National Park we missed the caribou migration that goes right through here by a month though we saw their trails

I highly recommend dogsledding

Go dogsledding in the winter. It’s the best dogsledding experience I’ve had to date in Canada, especially if you pick the full day option where you have a fire and a “shore lunch.”

Or head up to the Yukon in February to catch the annual Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Dogsledding on a frozen river in the Yukon
Dogsledding on a frozen river in the Yukon

Catch the Northern Lights

Don’t miss the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights. People come from literally all over the world to experience the Northern Lights in the Yukon.

The chances of seeing them are very high but you do have to be prepared to stay up till 2 AM in the morning.

The Yukon Northern Lights are completely magical

The Yukon Northern Lights are completely magical

Canoe the Yukon River

How about canoeing the Yukon River? There are many outfitters or you could do it yourself.

But then again if you’re into racing you could enter the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race – the longest canoe and kayak race in the world…by far. It covers 1000 miles and takes anywhere between 7-12 days of 18 hours paddling per day to complete. Sound like fun?

Canoeing the Yukon River
Canoeing the Yukon River

Catch a summer festival in the Yukon

Head off to one of the summer festivals – like the 24 hours of Light Mountain Bike Event, the annual Dawson City Music Festival, or perhaps the September Great Klondike International Outhouse Race.

Ride the train from Skagway to Carcross, Yukon

For a fun day trip out of Whitehorse book a scenic ride on the White Pass – Yukon Route Railroad (WP & YR), a narrow gauge railway that runs from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon Territory.

Enjoy lunch with a view. Walk a short section of the famous Chilkoot Trail. Stand between the cars for unencumbered photos.

Read: A Yukon Day Trip on the White Pass Scenic Railway  

Beautiful train trip through the YukonBeautiful train trip through the Yukon

Getting to the Yukon

You don’t have a lot of options when it comes to getting to Whitehorse – the largest city and capital in the Yukon. You can either fly in or drive – though Whitehorse is a long way from anywhere.

By Air

You have a choice of three airlines; Air NorthAir Canada or West Jet. Flight offerings are from Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, sometimes on a seasonal basis.

By Road

You’ll have to plan on a multi-day drive if you’re coming from any of Canada’s cities. Edmonton is the closest large city and it is nearly 2,000 kilometres away. The Alaska Highway is paved with regular services but don’t expect fancy hotels and lattes along the way.

Spare tires should be properly inflated and it would be worthwhile to have you car serviced before the trip. You’ll be looking at more expensive gas the further north you go to. Expect to see bear, moose and caribou along the side of the road.

There are lots of lakes where you can get out fishing but don’t forget to get a fishing license. Campsites are plentiful.

There are still mountains that haven’t been climbed, rivers that rarely see humans and a wild land just waiting to be explored. The Yukon Territory is definitely worth a visit.

Beauty on the Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail
Beauty on the Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

11 of the Best Things to do in the Yukon


Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Some of the pictures/trips evoke such remoteness that i can’t tell if it’s alluring, scary, or alluring cause it’s scary. I guess that’s what happens when you get used to city life and nature is a golf course.

    1. Interesting & thought provoking comment. The Tombstones are alluring to me – but scary because of the bears. But if I was in a group then the scary part would disappear. Of course if you’re comparing the Yukon to the nature you see on a municipal golf course then I think scary might be an appropriate adjective.

  2. Somehow missed this blog when it was posted but I have to say that this was my favourite family trip of all the ones we’ve done. Everyone should do this trip – it is unbelievable.

  3. FYI the picture you have underneath the infor for mt.logan is actually a picture of Mt.Robson! The highest peck in the Canadian Rockies, but much smaller then Mt.Logan!

  4. Hi there,
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Yukon to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!

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