Yukon Royal Tour | Prince William and Kate in Canada

Visit Canada's Yukon in the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family

Yukon Royal Tour | Prince William and Kate in Canada

yukon royal tour
Photos: Yukon Tourism

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in British Columbia on 24 September. They were welcomed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Take a peek at Justin Trudeau’s Instagram feed of William and Kate in British Columbia.

Yukon Royal Visit

Weeks before the royal visit, the northern city of Whitehorse was abuzz with anticipation of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 27 September.

When I first heard that Prince William and Kate Middleton had their sights set on visiting the Yukon with little Prince George and Princess Charlotte, I thought it would be fun to design an itinerary fit for a future king and his family.

The royal couple were interested in exploring the territorial capital of Whitehorse and other parts of the territory. Although I call Canada’s Northwest Territories home, I have visited the Yukon countless times and never tire of the beauty of the region.  

yukon royal tour
Clockwise from Left to right: Reflection of northern lights on lake with canoe in the foreground (Photo: Toshihiro Hayashi); Aerial view, Kluane National Park (Photo: Hans-Gerhard Pfaff ); Yukon Wildlife Preserve (Photo: JF Bergeron)
yukon royal tour
Clockwise from Left to right: Beaver house at Beaver Lake, Dempster Highway (Photo: Hans-Gerhard Pfaff); Aurora borealis (Photo: Robert Postma); Dakka’ Kwa’an Dancers, Carcross (Photo: Gov’t of Yukon / Derek Crowe); Aurora, Midnight Sun Dome, Dawson city (Photo: David Cartier)

Whitehorse is northern Canada’s largest city. It sits on the Yukon River and was named after the White Horse Rapids near Miles Canyon because the rapids resembled a white horse’s mane.

This pretty community of more than 27,000 people has mainly low-rise buildings and is easily walkable. But what sights and activities would be fit for a future king and queen and their young family? Here are the places I would have chosen for the royal family (even though the royal children didn’t end up accompanying their parents).

Family Fun at Yukon Wildlife Preserve

yukon royal tour
Yukon Wildlife Preserve (Photos: Government of Yukon)

Young Prince George and his sister Princess Charlotte would enjoy seeing a dozen species of northern Canadian animals at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. The preserve is a centre for research, education and conservation spread over a large area.

Large enclosures feature different animals including woodland caribou, wood bison, muskoxen, Dall sheep, mountain goats, elk and Arctic foxes.

Visitors can grab a map and walk around a loop or take a shuttle with a guide aboard. Since the royal couple has little ones, they might prefer to drive around the preserve to admire the wildlife.

Yukon Beringia

Then the family can head to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre to learn about animals from a more distant past.

The bright and airy centre focuses on sharing the First Nations and Western Science stories of the subcontinent called Beringia.

During the last ice age, an area stretching from the Yukon to Siberia remained free of ice because the climate was too dry.

Boreal forests disappeared and sea levels dropped enough to reveal the floor of the Bering Sea. This created a land bridge between two continents.

My favourite part of the museum is the pictures and three-dimensional models of such prehistoric animals as a scimitar cat, an American mastodon, a woolly mammoth that looks suspiciously like a muskox, and a short-faced bear. The royal offspring are likely to appreciate them, too.

yukon royal tour
Beringia Centre, Whitehorse; Yukon (Photos: Gov’t of Yukon/J Kennedy);

Royal Memories for Prince William and Kate

When Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visited the Yukon in July 1959, one of their first stops was the MacBride Museum. It takes up half a city block, with more than 8,000 feet of exhibits on Yukon’s history.

It takes up half a city block, with more than 8,000 feet of exhibits on Yukon’s history.

The stylish Duchess of Cambridge will likely appreciate the delicate First Nations beadwork on display.

yukon royal tour
MacBride Museum (Photos: Government of Yukon)

Exhibits tell the stories of the Yukon’s 14 First Nations, Beringia, early explorers, the gold rush, mineral exploration in the territory, and the construction of the Dempster Highway.

Prince William’s grandparents then walked to the White Pass railway station downtown for a short ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.

A 176km route from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse was blasted through mountains as an alternative to gold seekers hoofing it up the Chilkoot Trail. By the time the railway was built in 1900, the Klondike gold rush was over.

Caribou Crossing

prince william and kate in canada
Clockwise from left to right: Photo 1 to 3 – Dakka’ Kwa’an Dancers (Photo: Gov’t of Yukon / Derek Crowe ); Small lake near Dempster Highway (Robert Postma); Hiking in the Carcross Desert (Photo: Gov’t of Yukon/J Kennedy); Dakka’ Kwa’an Dancers (Photo: Gov’t of Yukon / Derek Crowe)
prince william and kate in canada
Clockwise from left to right: White Pass & Yukon Route Railway Depot (Photo: Gov’t of Yukon/Derek Crowe); Japanese Tour Sept. 2007 (Photo: Government of Yukon); White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, Lake Bennett (Photo: Gov’t of Yukon/Derek Crowe); Japanese Tour Sept. 2007 (Photo: Government of Yukon)

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway no longer travels as far as Whitehorse. But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can board in the village of Carcross for a journey that includes bridges, trestles, tunnels, sharp turns, and climbs more than 900m (3000 feet) within 72kms. Carcross, which is a contraction of Caribou Crossing, is home to the Carcross Tagish First Nation. Less than 300 people live in this village on Bennett Lake, south of Whitehorse.

Totems stand at attention at the nearby Carcross Commons and the royals would enjoy meeting and chatting with local artists at work in the carving shed.

During the summer Matthew Watson’s General Store, Yukon’s oldest operating store, sells ice cream. But, shhhh, don’t tell the kids.

Maybe the royal toddlers will enjoy standing in what is said to be the world’s smallest desert. The sandy, 260ha spot is located just one kilometre north of Carcross.

Royal View

prince william and kate in canada
Clockwise from left to right: Kluane National Park (Photo: Hans-Gerhard Pfaff); Kaskawulsh Glacier (Photo: E Manghi); Aerial view (Photo: Government of Yukon)

The beauty of the village of Haines Junction can be seen from miles away. The buildings are dwarfed by mountains towering over them.

This is the gateway community to Kluane National Park and Reserve.

The park is home to 5959m Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak. William and Kate can get a, dare I say it, royal view from above the mountains during a one-hour flightseeing tour.

At the Kluane Glacier Air Tours hangar, a Cessna waits for its passengers to arrive. Once everyone has picked a good window seat and settled in, the plane lifts off over a verdant landscape.

Then it flies over the Kaskawulsh Glacier. Wavy, icy white lines appear below, interwoven with dark green and turquoise ones. It looks like a carpet that Mother Nature took great pains to lay down with care.

Pinnacle Peak and Mount Kennedy frame the glacier as though they’re onlookers to this spectacular scene.

As the plane hovers high in the sky, it seems as though the glacier will never end. But then it does. Before you know it, you’re flying back over a lush green landscape and landing in Haines Junction.

Discover Canada

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited British Columbia and Yukon Territory during their 2016 royal tour.

See the official Yukon itinerary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 

Are you inspired to travel in the footsteps of the royal family? Here are some amazing spots in British Columbia you will love.

Have a fun time in Winnipeg in winter, the capital of Manitoba is the gateway to see the polar bears too.

Winnipeg is a fast-growing city with plenty of art galleries and a very cool museum..

If you’re after some local culture, then you’ll definitely want to join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club (see number four).

yukon royal tour

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