26 Fun & Interesting Facts About Whitehorse

SS Klondike II National Historic Site
The SS Klondike II National Historic Site and Parks Canada red chairs

I’ve been to Whitehorse four times – always on the way to grand outdoor adventures. Although there are plenty of outdoor activities in the immediate vicinity of Whitehorse, beautiful Kluane National Park is an easy drive away as is Skagway, Alaska and the start of the famous Chilkoot Trail.

Should you be lucky enough to visit here are 26 fun, interesting and potentially useful facts about the city of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.

The famous Klondike Rib & Salmon Restaurant in Whitehorse
The famous Klondike Rib & Salmon Restaurant in Whitehorse

Whitehorse – the capital of the Yukon

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory. It is the largest city in northern Canada.

Whitehorse became the capital of the Yukon Territory on April 1st, 1953. Previously it was Dawson City.

The city was named after the White Horse Rapids. Before the river was dammed the rapids looked like the mane of a white horse.

Whitehorse started off as a transportation hub during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898.

Welcome to Whitehorse the capital of the Yukon Territory
Welcome to Whitehorse the capital of the Yukon Territory

Whitehorse is referred to as The Wilderness City.

Whitehorse is located at Mile 918 on the Alaska Highway. The closest big Canadian city is Edmonton – 1,994 kilometres away.

View from the plane of Whitehorse in winter
View from the plane of Whitehorse in winter

The Yukon River flows though the center of town. Every second year the Yukon 1000 canoe race starts from the city of Whitehorse. It finishes 1000 miles and 7-12 days later at the Dalton Highway. If you enter be prepared to paddle 18 hours a day.

The frozen Yukon River as seen in downtown Whitehorse on a winter morning
The frozen Yukon River as seen in downtown Whitehorse on a winter morning

Interesting facts about Whitehorse demographics

According to the 2023 numbers, Whitehorse has a population of 27,856 people. About 75% of the Yukon population lives in Whitehorse. The five year growth rate has been about 11.6%.

In Whitehorse only 8.4 % of the population is over 65, less than the national average. The median age is 38.1 years.

English is spoken by 84.3% of the population; 4.6% speak French only and 9.7% speak one of the non-official languages.

Whitehorse hosts a steady stream of festivals including The Frostbite Music Festival in February and the Adäka Cultural Festival in June which brings First Nations artists from across the Yukon along with a group of international artists to celebrate their creativity.

How cold or hot can it get in Whitehorse?

The record low temperature in Whitehorse was -52.2 °C set on January 31, 1947.

The record high temperature in Whitehorse was 34.4 °C set on June 14, 1969.

On the summer solstice the sun rises at 4:27 AM and sets at 23:36 AM. On the winter solstice the sun rises at 10:10 AM and sets at 3:48 PM.

Whitehorse is the driest city in Canada.

On average, every month but July sees snow in Whitehorse!

On average there are 269 hours of bright sunshine in June in Whitehorse, but only 27 hours of bright sunshine in December.

The largest weathervane in the world is in Whitehorse. It’s a decommissioned DC-3 that sits atop a swivel stand at the airport.

The largest weathervane in the world, a decommissioned DC-3 is in Whitehorse
The largest weathervane in the world, a decommissioned DC-3 is in Whitehorse

Go to Whitehorse to see the magical Northern Lights. The best time is usually around midnight – between late August and April. Check out the Yukon Aurora Borealis forecasting website.

Interesting facts about Whitehorse
Incredible Northern Lights seen near Whitehorse

Whitehorse has three sister cities – Juneau, Alaska; Ushiku, Japan and Lancieux, France. Two were dumped – Castries, St. Lucia and Echuca, Australia – because it no longer exists.

The Miles Canyon with cliffs made of basalt and covered with strange lichen is a destination for hikers with a trail system in place. It also includes a suspension bridge over the Yukon River and it’s one of the places where you can watch the riverboat cruises.

26 Fun, Interesting and Useful Facts About Whitehorse, The Yukon
Canoeing through Miles Canyon on the Yukon River

The famous Yukon Quest – the toughest dogsledding race

The Yukon Quest is a 1,000 mile sled dog race that begins in Whitehorse on alternate years and ends in Fairbanks, Alaska. The event takes place every winter in February and typically runs from 10-16 days, until the last team crosses the line.

The Yukon Quest
The Yukon Quest

Sights to see in Whitehorse

Some of the sights worth a visit in Whitehorse include the Yukon Transportation Museum, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Black Mike’s Gold Mine, and the SS Klondike II National Historic Site.

There is an interpretation centre at the Whitehorse Rapids Fishladder. Look for migrating chinook salmon through an underwater window. It’s also fun to check out the viewing platforms above the Yukon River. 

Interesting facts about Whitehorse
Jellybean at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve
A public art installation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Whitehorse Rapids Fishway
A public art installation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Whitehorse Rapids Fishway

Outdoor activities in Whitehorse

A  hike to the top of Grey Mountain Lookout provides a panoramic view of the city.

There are over 700 kilometres of mountain biking trails within the city of Whitehorse. In summer you can take the chairlift up Mount Sima, the local ski hill, and bike back down.

There are 85 kilometres of cross-country ski trails five minutes from downtown. The trails are open 24 hours per day.

SS Klondike II National Historic Site
The SS Klondike II National Historic Site and Parks Canada red chairs
Walking alongside the Yukon River early on a winter morning
Walking alongside the Yukon River in Whitehorse early on a winter morning

More reading about the Yukon

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Fun, weird & interesting facts about Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

  1. Hoping to get some information. My great uncle Archabald Hall was from Whitehorse. Was told by my grandmother that he was first to start a trading post in Whitehorse, and is also buried there
    Maybe someone can verify this or set me right. Thank you.

    1. @Maureen That sounds like some interesting family history. There must be a public archives with someone who could help get you started on the search.

  2. Did hikebiketravel girl actually visit whitehorse or just wiz by on her bike? why bother writing about something you know nothing about hikebiketravel girl, maybe stay a few years and get to know the place!

    1. @Yuky Actually have been 4 times and this post was written a while ago. I’ve probably done more in the Yukon than most people ever will. Get off your high horse.

  3. There is no founder of the Yukon per say. There were several native bands (with as total population of about 400 people altogether), some fur traders, Catholics priests and gold prospectors until George Carmacks, Skookum Jim and his bother-in-law discover gold in the Bonanza Creek. The Canada Surveyor Mr. Ogilve run the territory for several years as commissioner and surveyed the lands, marking the border with Alaska

  4. Also noteworthy is the Wildlife Preserve on the Takhini Hot Springs Road… great to support their work and see moose, bison and many other Yukon animals. My son and granddaughter found an injured Kesler Falcon and took it there…they treated it and released it a few days later back into the wild. Was an awesome experience!

    A note on the dark winters, we are going into our 42nd winter… the cold is not bad since it is dry here and everything is white with snow… so quite bright over all. Lots of sun and very few overcast days.

  5. We visited Whitehorse in 2014, then Whitehorse and Dawson City in 2015. Now we’re saving up to move there ASAP. It’s beautiful and the people there are so friendly and nice. I can’t wait. Thank you Hike Bike Travel for more info. Maybe we’ll see you there!

  6. Great list. One great festival that defines Whitehorse is the Yukon sourdough Rendezvous festival. It happens the last week in February and is iconic. The festival includes flour packing, axe throwing, swede saw, dog races, snow sculpting and so much more. There is a beauty pageant with women daunting clothes from the gold rush era. Men aren’t supposed to shave and everyone is supposed to be wearing a garter, break the rules and the keystone cops will come and put you in a 1900’s paddy wagon. Of course if you can sing a song or tell a joke, they will let you out. Anyways, I think you need to add this to your list and up it to 27 facts, 😉

  7. There is a windvane, not a weathervane in Whitehorse. It is a decommissioned DC3 (registration CF-CPY) on a swivel and faces into the wind, just like all aircraft.

    There are so many sights and things to do all seasons. The Frantic Follies, our beautiful Arts Centre, fantastic archives, a dream to live here if you are a senior citizen, the Yukon River Quest, our Waterfront Trolley and Copperbelt Museum, The Transportation Museum, Beringia Centre. I could go on. Everything I mentioned can be found on Google. Our ‘Wilderness City’ isn’t so much that anymore. Too many outsiders moving here and bringing their big city ideas here creating exactly what they left behind.

  8. Whitehorse is the only place in Canada that has its own garbage truck Santa:) you should check it out at Christmas time.

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