Is Dawson City, Yukon, Worth a Visit?

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Shops in Dawson City, Yukon.

Dawson City is one of the few tourist hubs in the Yukon. The three northern territories of Canada mostly consist of remote wilderness, and Dawson City is one of the northernmost cities.

Its mining history and native cultures offer visitors a unique experience. So let’s look at ten of the best things to do in Dawson City, Yukon, so you can start planning your road trip!

Where Is Dawson City, Yukon?

Located along the Yukon River, Dawson City is the second-most-populous city in the Yukon territory.

It sits at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 9 in western Yukon, about one hour and 45 minutes from the Alaskan border. Dawson City lies less than six hours northwest of the territory’s capital at Whitehorse.

View of Dawson City, Yukon.

Why Is Dawson City Famous?

Dawson City is synonymous with the Klondike Gold Rush. About 100,000 prospectors flocked to the Yukon during the late-1890s in hopes of striking it rich.

The popular Klondike Highway, also known as Highway 2,  parallels these prospectors’ route from the Alaskan peninsula to Dawson City. 

10 Best Things To Do In Dawson City, Yukon

You can find more to do in Dawson City, Yukon than just pan for gold. Although that’s one of the best things to do, other fun activities can keep you busy during your visit. We want to share the ten best things to do in Dawson City, Yukon, for your next trip. 

1. Visit the Jack London Museum

Jack London, the famous author of “White Fang,” was one of the Klondike Gold Rush prospectors. There’s now a museum dedicated to sharing his life and writings.

Although he went in search of gold, London spent more of his time coming up with the adventures for his novels. The Jack London Museum stays open from May 20 to September 15.

2. Try the Slots at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall

Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall stays open year-round but only offers can-can shows from June through September. The unique entertainment provides only part of the fun, though.

Diamond Tooth Gerties also has casino games like blackjack, Poker, and slot machines. If you’re hungry, head over to the High Roller Canteen and grab a pasta dish, panini, or pizza. You can spend all night here!

3. Book a Tour With the Klondike Experience

The Klondike Experience is one of the best tour companies in Dawson City, Yukon. Book a scenic driving tour or hiking tour, or create your own custom tour.

The day tours will take you on an adventure through the Yukon. The Klondike Experience also has bikes and bear-proof canisters for rent and offers helicopter transport for hikers.

4. Visit the S.S. Keno National Historic Site

You’ll find numerous historic sites in and around Dawson City. But one you shouldn’t miss is the S.S. Keno National Historic Site.

The S.S. Keno played a significant role in the early development of the Yukon territory, transporting goods along the Yukon River until the 1950s. Climb aboard the now-retired riverboat and learn more about its history.

The S.S. Keno National Historic Site in Dawson City, Yukon.

5. Join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club

When you’re in Dawson City, Yukon, will you join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club? Head down to the Sourdough Saloon and ask for the Toe Captain, who will have you pledge the “Sourtoe Oath.”

You purchase a shot and witness a dehydrated toe dropped into your drink. You can drink the shot as fast as you want, but your lips must touch the toe to make your claim to fame in the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

Read More: We tried the Sourtoe Cocktail so you don’t have to! Learn more about this famous drink.

6. See the Northern Lights on Midnight Dome

The Yukon is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights because of the lack of light pollution and its northern location.

You could step outside your hotel room and see the greens lighting up the sky. But if you want a spectacular show, go up to Midnight Dome. Not only is it a great place to witness this marvel but you’ll also get a stunning panoramic view of the Klondike Valley and the Yukon River.

7. Go Panning for Gold

Goldbottom Mine Tour offers visitors one of the best opportunities to pan for gold in Dawson City, Yukon.

The company also provides mine tours of the traditional goldfields at Goldbottom or Hunker Creek in the Klondike region. Will you go home with a few gold nuggets as souvenirs of your Canadian vacation?

Keep in Mind: Before you try gold panning, check out our beginners guide to Panning for Gold!

8. Stroll Through the Hän Ghả Chukėt Träätätsey Artist Market

On Saturday afternoons during the summer, pursue the artist market along the Klondike Millennial Trail. These traditional hand-crafted goods make unique gifts and souvenirs.

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in community was in this region long before the Klondike Gold Rush and is a self-governing nation today. These artists showcase their history and culture in their traditional and contemporary products.

9. Visit the Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site

Another national historic site you don’t want to miss when visiting Dawson City, Yukon, is the Dredge No. 4.

You can take a guided tour from May through September to learn the inner workings of this giant, gold-digging machine as well as the history of these large-scale operations. You can make your reservation at the Dawson City Visitor Information Centre.

10. Take a Hike

Finally, there are walking trails around the city for travelers who want to get out and enjoy the natural landscape of Dawson City.

The Ninth Avenue Trail travels in a 1.5-mile loop around town and provides access to the Crocus Bluff Trail, the Midnight Dome Trail, and the Moosehide Trail. The Waterfront Trail runs along the Yukon River with interpretive kiosks and signage.

View of Yukon River.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Dawson City, Yukon?

Many of the attractions and sites only stay open seasonally. Therefore, it’s best to visit Dawson City, Yukon from May through September.

The weather during these months is also pleasant, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of longer days when the sun shines for 20 hours a day!

Is Dawson City, Yukon, Worth a Visit?

If you’re taking the Klondike Highway or traveling the Top of the World Highway, plan to spend several days in Dawson City, Yukon. If you’re especially adventurous and planning a road trip along the Dempster Highway to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy a few of these things to do before you head out on your journey north.

Looking for a place to stay? Check out our article “Dawson City Campgrounds: Which One Should You Stay In?”

Which of these activities in Dawson City, Yukon, would you like to experience? 

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