35 Incredible Facts About The Yukon

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This rugged landscape of this vast and pristine destination is a place you could easily describe with superlatives without exaggerating. The Yukon is home to Canada’s highest peak, largest ice fields, the smallest desert and the western-most point in Canada. It has an incredible array of wildlife and grizzly bears, caribou, moose and other animals roam the land. The Arctic Circle passes through the Yukon, making it a great place to search for the northern lights.

Famous for the Klondike Gold Rush that brought hundreds of thousands of prospectors as well as the longest mammal migration in the world, the Yukon is a wonderous place. Interested to know more? These Yukon facts will delight and amaze you.  

Contents

35 Yukon Facts To Know Before You Go

Yukon Facts About Geography

1- The Yukon Is Twice The Size of Victoria

facts about the yukon territory

The Yukon is 483,450 km2, which is about the size of Spain, slightly smaller than Thailand, more than twice the size of the Australian state of Victoria and over three times England’s size.

2- The Second-Highest Peak In North America Is In The Yukon

The Yukon is home to the highest peak in Canada and Mount Logan (5959 m) is also the second-highest peak in North America.

It was named after Canadian geologist Sir William E Logan who spotted it in 1890.

3- Mount Logan Is The World’s Largest Non-Volcanic Mountain

Mount Logan in Kluane National Park has the world’s largest circumference of any non-volcanic mountain around the base (20 km long and 5 km wide).

It’s so large, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Eiger and Mont Blanc could fit on the summit plateau.

4- The Highest Mountains In Canada Are In Yukon

yukon mountain facts
One of the Yukon facts that amazes most people is that this territory has the tallest mountains in Canada.

17 of Canada’s highest 20 mountain peaks are in Kluane National Park, where half of the park is covered permanently in snow and ice. These natural Canadian landmarks are impressive to see.

5- St Elias Icefields is the largest non-polar icefield in the world

facts about yukon
An interesting Yukon fact is the Kaskawulsh Glacier is the longest in the territory. Photo: © Hans-Gerhard Pfaff.

It has over 2000 glaciers, including some of the world’s largest, and its ice cover is six times larger than the icefields of the Canadian Rockies.

6- The Longest Glacier Is The Kaskawulsh Glacier

The longest glacier in the Yukon, the Kaskawulsh Glacier in Kluane National Park is 70 kilometres long and five kilometres wide.

Researchers say the glacier is shrinking by about half a metre a year, so visit now!

7- Yukon Is Home To The World’s Smallest Desert

yukon territories facts
Another cool fact about the Yukon is it has a tiny desert.

The Yukon’s Carcross Desert is the world’s smallest desert, measuring 2.6 km2 (259 ha), and has rare plants such as the Yukon lupine, Baikal sedge flower, as well as dart moths and dune tachinidae.

8- The Yukon River Is Canada’s Second Longest

The Yukon River – which is the second-longest river in Canada and the third-longest in North America – is also host to the world’s longest paddling race.

The river is 3190 km and flows from northern British Columbia across the Yukon Territories and Alaska to the Bering Sea.

9- The Yukon Was Named After A River

The territory was named after the river and after the native word ‘Yuk-un-ah’, which means ‘great river’.

10- The Yukon Is Canada’s Westernmost Territory

The Yukon is home to Canada’s westernmost point, which is on the border of Alaska. 

It’s in the northwestern corner of Canada and shares borders with the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alaska and the Beaufort Sea.

11- The Longest Mammal Migration In The World Happens In The Yukon

Caribou in fall. Photo: Robert Postma.

200,000 porcupine caribou embark on the longest mammal migration in the world every year in the Yukon.

The herd is essential to the Western Arctic’s ecosystem and is monitored closely by researchers.

For more exciting attractions in Yukon read:

Quirky Facts About Yukon

The Great Klondike International Outhouse Race is one of the Yukon’s oldest running events and has been a Dawson City tradition since the 1970s.

This wacky race where teams of five dress-up to complete challenges while pushing an ‘outhouse’ on wheels through the streets of Dawson City.

13- Yukon Has One Of The Largest Sign Collections In The World

The Signpost Forest at Watson Lake has one of the largest sign collections from around the world, the Signpost Forest.

At last count, there are about 100,000 signs, including original signs from Berlin, Moscow, Dublin and Hawaii.

This quirky landmark was started by a homesick GI in 1942 and has become a famous attraction along the Alaska Highway.

14- Canada’s Oldest Casino Is In The Yukon

fun facts about the yukon
A fun fact about the Yukon is it’s home to the oldest gambling hall in Canada. Photo: © Government of Yukon.

Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall in Dawson City is Canada’s oldest casino.

The gambling hall opened in 1971 and was named after a dancehall girl, who had a diamond between her teeth.

15- The Sourtoe Cocktail Club

Around 100,000 people have drunk a Sourtoe Cocktail, which is a specialty of the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City.

The alcoholic cocktail served with a mummified human toe is a tradition that began in the 1970s after riverboat captain Dick Stevenson found a preserved toe in an old cabin.

Those who drink the cocktail and ensure their lips touch the toe become a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

16- The Yukon Gold Potato Is Not From The Yukon

It was developed by a scientist in Ontario, Canada. 

Yukon Facts About National Symbols

17- The national bird of the Yukon is the raven

The raven (Corvus corax) is an intelligent bird that can make over 100 different sounds and can do things other birds are not capable of, such as opening boxes, using tools and interacting with other animals.

18- The Yukon’s coat of arms features a malamute 

The dog is standing on a snow mound above a shield, which has symbols that represent the Yukon River, gold and mountains.

19- The Yukon’s floral symbol is the fireweed

yukon fireweed
One of the lesser-known facts about the Yukon is that the fireweed is the national flower. Photo: © Government of Yukon.

The fireweed ((Epilobium angustifolium) covers the hills and roadsides with a blanket of magenta-purple in July.

The hardy plant and grows wild and is one of the first to spring back after a forest fire.

20- The official gemstone of the Yukon is Lazulite

This is a semi-precious gemstone that is found the layered sedimentary rock of Blow River in Ivvavik National Park, 32 kilometres south of the Beaufort Sea.

21- The sub-alpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) is the official tree

It grows at higher elevations and the First Nations people use its fir needles to make a tea rich in vitamin c while its sap is used in traditional medicine to cure lung ailments.

22- Yukon Has An Official Tartan

The Yukon has an official tartan registered on the official Scottish tartan registry and accepted under the Yukon Tartan Act in 1984.

The Yukon tartan has a light blue base and green, dark blue, magenta, yellow and white stripes.

Yukon Facts About People And Culture 

23- There Are More Moose Than People

The Yukon is one of the least populated among Canada’s provinces and territories, with about 70,000 moose and 40,962 people.

24- There Is Only One City In The Yukon

32,000 people live in Whitehorse, which is the only city in the Yukon, while the rest of the population is spread across the territory’s seven towns and five local areas.

25- There Are Eight First Nations Languages In The Yukon

yukon territory facts
The Yukon has a fascinating First Nations culture.

There are 14 First Nations tribes that speak eight distinct languages.

The indigenous people of this ancient land have called it home for around 12,000 years.

Canada’s official languages are French and English but the Yukon Government also acknowledges the languages of the First Nations.

26- The Territory’s Airline Is Owned By Yukoners

One in 15 Yukoners hold an employment or equity state in Yukon airline Air North Yukon, which is 100% owned by Yukoners and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

Air North flies to 12 destinations in Canada.

27- The Record For The Yukon Quest is Under Nine Days

One of the cool facts about the Yukon is it hosts the Yukon Quest dog race each year.

The fastest winner of the Yukon Quest was Allen Moore in 2014, who took eight days, 14 hours and 21 minutes to complete the 1609 km (1000 miles) race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks in Alaska.

Sled dog teams of 14 dogs and one musher race through the wilderness following the historic Gold Rush and dogsled delivery routes.

The RCMP dog sled route carrying mail and medical supplies was an 800km trip that over 26 days across the Yukon and Northwest Territories ended in 1969.

Yukon History

28- Woolly Mammoths Once Roamed The Yukon

Woolly mammoths roamed the Yukon around 12,000 years ago during the ice age when the Yukon was part of Beringia.

This land bridge allowed species migration between North America and Asia.

Humans, mammoths, bison and moose migrated from Asia to North America, while horses, caribou and black bears migrated in the other direction.

29- 100,000 Prospectors Flocked To The Klondike Gold Rush

yukon gold rush facts

The Klondike Gold Rush (or Yukon Gold Rush) occurred after gold was found in 1896 and was a mass migration of prospecting refugees from their hometowns to the Yukon Territory and Alaska.

Over 100,000 people from all walks of life have left their homes and embarked on an extended, life-threatening journey through treacherous, snowy valleys and rugged mountainous terrain with the idea of striking it rich.

30- The Yukon River Was A Highway During The Klondike Gold Rush

The Yukon River was the primary means of transportation during the Klondike Gold Rush and until the Klondike Highway was constructed in the 1950s.

Paddle-wheel riverboats continued to ply the river.

31- The Yukon Has An International Landmark of Historic Civil Engineering

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Check out these interesting Yukon facts about the White Pass & Yukon Railway.

The White Pass & Yukon Route was declared an International Landmark of Historic Civil Engineering in 1994, alongside 36 world civil engineering wonders, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Panama Canal.

32- Steam Engines Were Called Hogs 

The White Pass & Yukon Railway’s steam engines were called “hogs” and engineers were known as “hogheads”.

The WP&YR was an engineering marvel built during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Yukon Facts About Seasons And Weather

33- The Lowest Temperature In North America Was Recorded In Yukon

North America’s lowest recorded temperature was in 1947 at Snag, Yukon, at -63° C (-83° F).

34- The Yukon Sourdough Thermometer Was Used To Measure The Temperature

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Here’s a fun fact from the Yukon about the sourdough thermometer.

The Yukon sourdough thermometer was invented during the gold rush era and consisted of four bottles placed outside cabins within sight of the window.

The bottles contained either coal oil, quicksilver, Jamaica ginger or Perry Davis’ Painkiller.

Most people stayed home when the quicksilver froze. 

35- The Best Season To See The Northern Lights Is In Winter

Winter

Temperature in winter: -40 °C (-40 °F) to -13 °C (8.6 °F).
Season: November to March.

Winter is the time to look up into the sky and marvel at the Northern Lights. While looking for the Aurora Borealis is the main drawcard in winter, there are plenty of other activities to occupy your days.

Things to do in winter: see the Northern Lights, go hiking, dog sledding, fat biking, ice fishing, soak in Takhini hot sprints, spending time in museums in Whitehorse.

Festivals: Sourdough Rendezvous, Yukon Quest.

Spring

Temperature in spring: -22 °C (-7.6 °F) to 7 °C (44.6 ° F)
Season: April and May

Spring is when the Prairie Crocuses erupt with colour, bear cubs emerge from slumber and millions of migratory birds flock to the Yukon. 

Things to do in spring: cross-country skiing, driving trips on the Yukon’s scenic highways or diving into a cool lake for a quick st dip to get the heart pumping.

Summer

Temperature in summer: -3 °C (26.6 °F) to 20.5 °C (68.9 ° F)
Season: June to August

As the midnight sun shines 24 hours a day in summer, the Yukon becomes the perfect place for outdoor activities.

Things to do in summer: kayaking, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, wildlife watching.

Autumn

Temperature in autumn: 9.9 °C (49.8 °F) to 29.2 °C (84.6 ° F)
Season: September and October

Autumn is when the longest land-migration path of any land mammal on Earth occurs and hundreds of thousands of caribou are on the move. It’s also the start of the Aurora Borealis season.

Things to do in autumn: Aurora Borealis watching, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking.

Yukon Facts
Yukon Facts

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