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A Quick Visit To Dawson: Canada’s Klondike City

A Quick Visit to Dawson: Canada’s Klondike City

Dawson City, Canada’s Klondike City, is a small town with a big presence in the Yukon. It sits in the heart of the Klondike region – made famous by the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800’s. Today it’s home to about 1,300 people yet it hosts 60,000 visitors a year.

Canada’s Klondike City

Why, might you wonder would people visit a town that’s a six hour drive from Whitehorse, and basically in the middle of nowhere?

Dawson City is full of history, it’s wildly colourful and to top it off it’s exceptionally scenic with its location on the Yukon River. You can count on plenty to do over a few days! Did you know you can also do a loop drive on the Top of the World Highway to Jack Wade, Alaska from West Dawson? That road gives you the option of visiting Kluane National Park or you could continue and explore more of Alaska. The Dempster Highway is also nearby.

Here are some ideas of what you can do on a quick visit to Dawson City.

We were in Dawson City for all of 18 hours at the end of our backpacking trip in the Tombstone Mountains. We did manage to fit in many of the sights. After dinner at the Aurora Inn (where we also stayed and can recommend), we drove to the top of the Midnight Dome. Impressive vistas up and down the Yukon River will have you racing for your camera. Try to time a visit with sunset – which is far easier to do at the end of the summer.

"The view from the hill above Dawson City"

The view from the Midnight Dome above Dawson City

"Another view from the Midnight Dome Lookout , Dawson City"

Another view from the Midnight Dome Lookout

The next morning – September 1st – we woke to frost on the car. Fortunately a credit card works as a good scraper and in no time we had the windshield cleared and were off to explore the town. Normally we’d walk the town, street by street, but we had a long drive ahead of us so we had to make do with driving instead.

Streets are lined with colourful houses and businesses. What a treat for the eyes!

"Scraping ice off the car on September 1st"

Scraping ice off the car on September 1st

"Colourful houses in Dawson City"

It takes a while for the sun to reach street level at the end of the summer

"Loads of houses with character in Dawson City"

Loads of houses with character

"Another wildly colourful house in Dawson City

Another wildly colourful house

"Colourful store fronts in Dawson City"

Colourful store fronts

We made our way down to the waterfront where we were greeted with the sight of a floating cabin and a red canoe. I’d love to know the backstory to this photo.

Cabin and red canoe moored on the Yukon River

How would you like to live on the Yukon River for a summer?

A few hours float on the Yukon River via the paddle-wheeler would be a great way to see the area.

A paddle wheeler on the Yukon River in Dawson City

A paddle wheeler on the Yukon River

The SS Keno is a National Historic Site. The boat, built in 1922, was used to carry silver, lead and zinc from the mines in Mayo.

"The SS Keno"

The SS Keno in drydock

"The George Black Ferry provides access to the Top of the World Highway"

The George Black Ferry provides access to the Top of the World Highway

"A walking path along the Yukon River"

A walking path along the Yukon River

"The Westminster Hotel - established in 1898"

The Westminster Hotel – established in 1898

St. Andrews Church in Dawson City - Circa 1901

St. Andrews Church – Circa 1901

Abandoned building in Dawson City

This place has seen better days

Tours of the Palace Grand Theatre by Parks Canada are offered and there are regular live performances scheduled. It would have been fun to hear the stories of what happened on the backstage.

The Palace Grand Theater in Dawson City

The Palace Grand Theater

As you drive into Dawson City, you can’t miss the kilometers of dredge tailings. The sight of them might give you gold fever – and if that’s the case, you might want to try your hand at gold panning. Goldbottom offers mine tours and the chance to pan.

"Along the highway leading to Dawson City are kilometer after kilometer of dredge tailings

Along the highway leading to Dawson City is kilometer after kilometer of dredge tailings

John and I found the city to be friendly and inviting; we both wished we had another day to take some of the tours and explore the nearby hills on foot.

Click on the photo to bbokmark to your Pinterest boards.

A Quick Visit to Dawson: Canada's Klondike City

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 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 52 Comments
    1. @Adina We had driven part of the Dempster Highway and hiked in the Tombstones – and I knew I didn’t want to miss a visit to Dawson City, even if it was just as short visit. Next time I’d like to drive the Top of the World Highway as well.

    1. @Ted Dawson City has so much character and I feel like there were a lot of things I would have loved to have done. I think I’ll be back since I also want to drive the whole of the nearby Dempster Highway.

  1. Dawson City looks like a great place to visit. And those views – wow!
    And great for photographers. Happy travels and have a great weekend.

  2. I have been interested in Dawson City and I do like what I see in your photos. The coloured buildings with the low cloud looks inviting. Yes I would love to live on a raft in the Yukon River for the summer, thanks.

    1. @Jan Wouldn’t that be an experience living out on the river. I don’t know how warm the Yukon River gets in summer – but if you lived there I think you’d have to have a daily plunge into the river. I’d like to go back again and continue into Alaska.

  3. Thanks for sharing this 🙂 if one day I only have few hours to visit Dawson, I’ll trust that you recommended us the best things to do.

  4. There is so much that I like about what you’ve shown us of Dawson City that I think I’d want to linger there longer. The views from the dome are beautiful. You really have a knack for showcasing the gorgeousness of nature. I like all the colorful houses, the floating cabin, and the paddlewheel boat, too.

  5. I haven’t heard of Dawson City but what an interesting town I’d like to explore someday. Just by the name alone, I was picturing some sort of western town but this has a lot of character. Those views are amazing and I love the colorful houses.

  6. I’ve seen lots of colourful houses in the Arctic but these in Dawson City are a step beyond. So quirky and lively.

  7. Hi Leigh. I absolutely love all the color! Those row houses remind me of St. John’s. It’s been a long time since I have had to scrape frost from anything, and I don’t miss it! Your shots are gorgeous, as always. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

  8. Beautiful scenery and interesting buildings. I’ve been to Whitehorse but haven’t made it to Dawson City. Maybe some day.

  9. Dawson City looks like a beautiful place…your photos of Midnight Dome Lookout are stunning. I was born in Canada’s north so your post brings back many fond memories of the light as the sun sets.

    1. @atastefortravel I’m curious as to where you were born and if you have lived up north as an adult. I have to imagine it takes a certain type of person who can put up with the long hours of darkness.

  10. We have been to Dawson City, from where we went to the Arctic Circle! Robert Service and Jack London’s homes sit side by side on a street up the hill! Thanks for the memories.

  11. We were just talking about Dawson City and driving to Alaska the other day. Your photos make it look great and it is still on our list.

  12. I went to Dawson City on an incredible river cruise from Whitehorse. I was on a press trip but by the time it came to write about the cruise it had gone bust. Such a shame. I ended up writing about gold diggers in Dawson!

  13. Oh my gosh yes I would LOVE to visit Dawson City! I had forgotten all about it until this post of your’s. Of course, I had heard about first in school as a kid because of the Gold Rush years. That would be so much fun and wow all of the colorfully painted house. I would be fascinated by all the historical stuff for sure. Great post, Leigh 🙂

  14. I had no idea that Dawson City was such a colourful town! The Yukon has been at the top of my husband’s wish list for quite some time so hopefully we will get there soon – there’s just so many places that we want to see and not enough vacation time!

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