The capital of Yukon and the largest city in Northern Canada, Whitehorse is also for anyone seeking hospitality and adventure. It’s a great city for a weekend trip, and a wonderful kicking off point for activities that bring you close to nature.
- Whitehorse is nicknamed ‘The Wilderness City’, and with abundant wildlife and the Northern Lights overhead, you’ll quickly realize that it earns the name.
- In the summer, Whitehorse can get up to 19 hours of daylight, which means you have plenty of time to spend enjoying the outdoors.
- In the winter, the city is either the starting point or the ending point (depending on the year) of one of the toughest races in the world: the Yukon Quest sled dog race. Participants travel 1,000 miles by dogsled between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska.
- Whitehorse was once named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the city with the least air pollution in the world.
Miles Canyon was once a daunting site for gold seekers. Many tried and failed to cross the canyon, or navigate their supply-filled boats through the rushing whitewater of the Yukon River. While a rail system eventually allowed these prospectors to avoid this hazard, today the Miles Canyon isn’t a place you want to avoid at all. Visitors are treated to a slightly calmer river, thanks to a hydroelectric dam that slowed the flow of water. This site, only minutes from downtown Whitehorse, also provides great hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing trails.
The history of the Yukon is deeply tied to the gold rush, which is why the MacBride Museum of Yukon History offers visitors a chance to put pan in hand and experience this old profession. Panning is only one of many experiences offered by the museum, with exhibits covering the entire history of the Yukon. See First Nations beadwork and tools, learn about Northern animals, immerse yourself in the history of Whitehorse, and even step into the real cabin of Sam McGee.
Takhini Hot Springs
The Takhini Hot Springs are a series of natural mineral hot pools only 18 miles from downtown Whitehorse. These pools were used for centuries by local First Nations, and became a commercial site back in 1907. The water is a balmy 41 degrees Celsius meaning you can enjoy it every season of the year, no matter the temperature outside. The Takhini Hot Springs sit on 200 acres of land that you can explore on foot or on cross-country skis.
In the early 20th century, over 250 riverboats linked the Yukon to the outside world by way of water. The biggest of these steam ships, the S.S. Klondike, still sits on the shores of the Yukon River today. Restored to its original 1937-1940 appearance, this boat is a popular destination for travellers who want to see what life was like for the region’s early inhabitants.
Yukon Wildlife Preserve
Canada’s North is home to some of the country’s most interesting wildlife, and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve works to keep it that way. Located only 25 minutes from downtown Whitehorse, the staff care for injured animals before releasing them back into the wild. Learn about over a dozen different species of Arctic and boreal animals. Tour the facility’s three-mile viewing loop on foot, by ski, by snowshoe, or on a guided bus.
How to spend a weekend in Whitehorse
On your first day, dive into the city’s First Nations culture and history. The Kwanlin Dün, First Nation lived on the banks of the Yukon River near present-day Whitehorse since just after the last Ice Age. Their traditions are showcased for visitors at the Cultural Centre. Go back to when wooly mammoths and giant beavers walked the region, at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center. Then, jump forward to the Yukon Gold Rush. Spend the rest of your day popping into art galleries and shops before grabbing a seat at one of the great downtown restaurants.
After a day in the city, it’s time to explore some of the incredible nature that surrounds Whitehorse. Start your morning off with a walk on the waterfront Millennium Trail, a three mile path that connects many of the city’s popular attractions. Then, if you want a longer trek, there are some 430 miles of walkable, hikeable, and bikeable trails in and around the city to explore. There are also two golf courses in Whitehorse where you can work on your swing.
Purely America offers an eight day package to Whitehorse including flights from London on Air Canada via Vancouver to Whitehorse, one night at Holiday Inn Vancouver Centre, six nights at the Inn on the Lake, Whitehorse.
Visit www.purelytravel.co.uk/home/yukon/ for more information