The Yukon is the all-weather Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The region’s vast wilderness areas, long rivers and massive snow falls provide the perfect all-year outdoor playground. In one day alone, you can tackle backcountry slopes on skis, bike of the world’s best trails, or meditate on the water with a fishing rod. There are few limits in this stunning region (okay, other than wrestling grizzly bears, which we strongly advise against). Here are my top 10 outdoor activities to enjoy in the Yukon.
You can get your ‘sled legs’ on half-day outings or head out on multi-day wilderness adventures (with snow camping).
An alternative is skijoring, where skiers are pulled along by dogs. Half the fun of these trips is bonding with your furry companions.
Where to start? Hundreds of trails covering thousands of kilometres crisscross the Yukon: from remote routes at altitude over mountain ranges to calmer walks in river valleys and wildflower-strewn meadows.
The most famous is the Chilkoot Trail, a 53km (33 miles) that heads from coast of Dyea, Alaska, through British Columbia to the Yukon River’s headwaters.
In the late 1890s, thousands of gold stampeders (prospectors) trudged this difficult terrain to reach the Yukon gold fields.
These days, the hike takes three to four days and encompasses everything from rain forest to rocky alpine crests.
While the region is known for its salmon, rainbow trout and Arctic grayling, schools of other varieties also swim in waters here – the region’s multiple rivers and lakes and secluded (shh, secret) water holes.
Fly-in charters hook in the passionate anglers for their full on fishing and lodge experiences.
The only drive-in fishing lodge in the area – it’s located on the beautiful Dezadeash Lake, Kluane National Park — is Dalton Trail Lodge. Winter ice-fishing might give anglers an alternative ‘one that got away’ tale, too.
Pebble Beach and Royal St Andrews, have we got news for you.
The Yukon golf courses are as pretty and unique as your tricky links fairways.
On summer solstice, June 21, there’s a ‘midnight’ golf tournament.
The Yukon’s golf courses vary from the par–9 Meadow Lakes Golf & Country Club whose rustic log clubhouse is a charming feature, to first-class velvety fairways of the 18-hole (72-par) course of Mountain View Golf Club.
Rafting and kayaking
True to their hard-core, adrenaline-seeking selves, Yukonites are obsessed with water activities.
Rafting is a great way to pass by the scenery – think glaciers and bald-headed eagles on branches above and caribou crossing the river.
Tatshenshini Expeditions offers fun one-day whitewater rafting trips on Tatshenshini River, a beautiful waterway that carves its way through the Elias Mountain range.
For those after a more do-it-yourself, meditative journey, rent a canoe or kayak from Kanoe People in Whitehorse. DIY or guided trips head off down the Yukon River.
All three North American bears – black, grizzly and polar – hang around The Yukon. But animal life extends way beyond these; the region is like a zoo of A-Z alphabet animals.
Think Arctic Ground Squirrel (gophers), beaver, caribou, coyote, crossbills. Then there’s deer, elk and falcons.
Be sure to pick up the Yukon Wildlife Viewing Guide Keep your eye out… and your car window closed.
If there’s ever a place to ‘take time to sniff the roses’, it’s here in the wildflower-strewn Yukon, where hundreds of plant and flower varieties grow.
During the Ice Age, much of ancient Beringia (incorporating modern-day Yukon) was unglaciated, so five unique plant species grow here (that’s right, found nowhere else on earth!), including Yukon Draba, a small white flower, and Yukon Goldenweed.
In July, the southern Yukon is a carpet of fireweed, Yukon’s official flower (check the area you’ll be in as flowers bloom at different times).
Other flowers include white cow parsnip, yellow pasture sage and dandelion and white Labrador tea.
The secret is out about the Yukon’s epic single track. Keen mountain biking residents of Whitehorse and Carcross have joined their towns via former mining tracks, walking trails and animal routes to create 500 miles of scenic trails and one of Canada’s best single-tracks.
Think switchbacks, bridges and ramps on all terrains: rocky high-altitude paths, alpine meadows and mountain ridges.
You can go it alone or head off with an operator. Boreale Mountain Biking runs everything from half-day trips to multi-day epics, including the four-day Summer Solstice (with gourmet cuisine and a luxury lodge accommodation).
Gasp at the Aurora Borealis in the Yukon
Three words: Magical. Northern. Lights. Locals call it, ‘the best show on Earth’ and indeed, the aurora spectacle here is as good as Scandinavia.
The Aurora Borealis – ethereal wisps of neon green lights – is a magnet for photographers, romantic legend seekers and scientists (the latter who would explain the phenomenon as when those particles of solar dust that forms rings around the polar regions are charged by gases, the molecules of which glow like neon lights).
The delightful Inn on the Lake is the perfect spot to stay – you can have a personal light viewing from the terrace.
Back-country skiing in the Yukon
Snow can literally dump in the Yukon during their loooong winters.
While downhill skiers can careen down the region’s ski-lift pistes, Mount Sima and Mount Maichen, Nordic skiers have the Yukon world at their ‘ski tips’ – alpine touring here is among the best in the world.
For those who prefer their feet to stomp, not slide, join the locals on a snowshoeing expedition and walk and run your way through the surrounding snowscapes.