Is Whitehorse, Yukon, Worth Visiting?

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View of Whitehouse, Yukon

Many people consider Whitehorse the “Gateway to the Yukon.” When you experience this beautiful area for the first time, it’s easy to see why.

The city is a travel hub for the many northward travelers heading to Alaska. But does it deserve more than just a quick pitstop?

Today, we’ll help you answer whether or not Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, is worth your time. Let’s dig in and see what we uncover!

About Whitehorse, Yukon

Whitehorse, along the Yukon River, sits approximately 87 miles from the British Columbia border. With an estimated population of around 30,000, the city serves as the capital of Canada’s Yukon territory.

It’s an adventurer’s paradise, surrounded by impressive mountains and thick forests. Its excellent trail system includes approximately 530 miles of trails. In addition, the Yukon River is an ideal place to kayak and canoe.

Depending on the year, it’s the starting or finishing point for the famous 1,000-mile Yukon Quest sled dog race. As you would expect, winters here can be pretty brutal. Temperatures drop below -22 degrees Fahrenheit and climb to 59 to 77 degrees in the summer.

What Is Whitehorse, Yukon, Best Known for?

The city of Whitehorse is most known for its pivotal role in the Klondike Gold Rush that took place in 1898. The town served as a transportation hub and supply center for those passing through. The impressive growth the area experienced helped build the necessary infrastructure to survive.

Aside from its hospitality and hopeful prospectors, Whitehorse has plenty of natural beauty to appreciate. You can see the Coast Mountains in the distance, which house Kluane National Park and Reserve. You’ll find plenty to do here if you want an opportunity to get outdoors.

Another great thing about Whitehorse is its position in the auroral oval. If you visit during the winter, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.

During this natural light display, colors magically dance across the sky. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sight witnessed by those tough enough to brave the cold.

How Far Is Whitehorse, Yukon, from the U.S. Border?

Judging distances to northern Canada can be challenging on a map. Most maps don’t do its massive size justice. In addition, roads wind around mountains and add to the distance. 

These two factors make it challenging to comprehend. However, while it may not look like it on a map, Whitehorse, Yukon, is almost 1,450 miles from the U.S. border.

Things to Do in Whitehorse, Yukon

If you’re passing through, there’s much to see and do. Float peacefully on the river, learn about the history, or head out for a heart-pounding hike. Here are some of the best things to do in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Visit the SS Klondike National Historic Site

The SS Klondike National Historic Site is a fantastic opportunity to learn about transportation on the Yukon River. At 210 feet long, this fully-preserved paddle wheeler from 1929 is a sight to see. During its prime, the vessel carried up to 300 passengers and up to 250 tons of cargo.

When you enter this museum, you get immersed in the gold rush era. You can walk through the ship and see what life would have been like for passengers and crew. You can take guided tours to help you gain a deeper appreciation for the boat and the area’s history.

Discover the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Approximately 30 minutes outside of Whitehorse is the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Their mission is to give the injured and orphaned wildlife a second chance on their 350-acre piece of land. The park is home to more than a dozen different species. 

The walking path is a figure-eight loop approximately 3 miles long. While you can complete the route in 45 to 60 minutes, we encourage you to take your time. Watch the animals and take plenty of photos. Typically, most visitors will spend 1.5 to 2.5 hours, but it depends on your pace.

Some of the animals housed at the preserve include arctic foxes, arctic ground squirrels, Canada lynx, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, elk, muskox, red fox, thinhorn sheep, wood bison, and woodland caribou. 

A river in Whitehouse, Yukon

Stroll Along the Millennium Trail

Do you want to take a stroll? The Millennium Trail is an easy 3-mile looping trail with minimal elevation gain. It’s popular with those who enjoy birding, hiking, and road biking. 

You’ll enjoy incredible views of the river and surrounding mountains. Plenty of benches lie along the path if you want a spot to sit and relax.

This is the perfect opportunity to get in some exercise while enjoying the natural beauty of Whitehorse. You’ll likely encounter locals and other tourists while out. It’s a great mixture of urban and riverside to help you appreciate all the area offers.

Immerse Yourself in History at the MacBride Museum

As we’ve mentioned, Whitehorse, Yukon, has a vibrant history. While Indigenous tribes inhabited the land thousands of years ago, the Klondike Gold Rush put the city on the map.

The MacBride Museum is an excellent opportunity to explore this history through interactive displays and artifacts.

You can learn all about the First Nations’ culture, early explorers, mining, fur trading, and the transportation they used. It has over 40,000 objects to enjoy. MSN Travel Canada rated the museum as Canada’s No. 1 most underrated attraction. So do yourself a favor, and don’t miss out!

Keep in Mind: Did you know Canada has Two Official Languages? Click to see why and what they are!

Visit the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre

How the world has changed throughout its existence is remarkable. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre is an opportunity to learn about the concept of Beringia.

This natural land bridge connected Asia and North America during the Ice Age. It allowed creatures like mammoths, giant sloths, camels, and saber-toothed cats to travel to the land.

You don’t want to miss the chance to see fossils dating back to the last ice age over 25,000 years ago. They’re well-preserved and provide a glimpse into the prehistoric world.

If you want a deeper dive, attend one of the informative presentations or films. This is a captivating experience, whether you’re into paleontology or the Ice Age.

Experience the Northern Lights

As mentioned earlier, Whitehorse’s location makes it an ideal spot to see the Northern Lights. The city sits at a relatively high altitude, and on a clear night, the skies come alive.

You’ll want to visit between November and March for your best chance to see them. During this time, the skies are the darkest for the longest.

While the view anywhere in Whitehorse, Yukon, is terrific, some of the best viewing locations include Miles Canyon, Fish Lake, and Takhini Hot Springs.

You’ll enjoy an unobstructed view of the night sky at these locations. However, pack plenty of warm clothes because it can get very cold.

Keep in Mind: Here’s Where (and When) You Can See the Northern Lights in the US!

View of the Northern Lights in Whitehouse, Yukon

Explore Miles Canyon

Miles Canyon demonstrates the incredible power of the Yukon River. The canyon formed over nine million years ago from basaltic lava spreading over the landscape. Its name is from a local boatman, Jack Miles, who conquered the rapids during the Klondike Gold Rush.

To truly experience the canyon, we suggest hitting one of the many trails. However, remember this is bear country, and you must stay aware. In addition to bear spray, pack your camera.

You’ll find plenty of spots where you’ll want to snap pictures. Exploring Miles Canyon is an excellent way to learn about its history and appreciate its natural beauty.

View of Miles Canyon in Whitehouse, Yukon

Enjoy the Takhini Hot Springs

Relaxing in a hot spring surrounded by incredible views sounds like an epic way to spend the day. If this is your ideal way to experience an area, you must visit Takhini Hot Springs outside Whitehorse, Yukon. The natural hot mineral pools start deep within the earth and contain various minerals.

One great thing about these springs is that the pools sit at different temperatures. You’ll have plenty of options whether you like it hot or a little cooler. However, no matter which pool you choose, the view of the pristine northern wilderness is phenomenal.

Additionally, you can enjoy several hiking trails, whether you choose to do it before or after soaking. You can connect with nature and its unique features. If you’re lucky, you may visit during one of the festivals, outdoor concerts, or other special events. 

Take a Scenic Drive on the Klondike Highway

The Klondike Highway is an epic adventure that makes it easy to enjoy the stunning landscapes throughout the Yukon Territory. In total, it’s more than 440 miles of paved highway.

While it’s in generally good condition, potholes and bumps can always surprise you. However, don’t expect a smooth Sunday drive just because it’s paved. 

You’ll travel through and around rugged mountains, pristine forests, and winding rivers. As you travel north, there’s always a chance of spotting wildlife. Moose, caribou, and eagles frequent the area, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Is Whitehorse, Yukon, Worth Visiting?

Whether you’re coming to experience its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, or the Northern Lights, Whitehorse, Yukon, is worth visiting.

The locals are incredibly hospitable and love sharing their little piece of heaven with anyone interested. Whether you want a thrill or a way to relax, Whitehorse is the perfect place to create unforgettable memories.

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