5 unforgettable weekend adventures in the Yukon.
I was recently asked what there is to do in a territory with more moose than people. Besides noting the odd truth of the fact that I’ve hardly encountered a wild moose, I listed off several dozen things to do. Every single one of them was focused on nature.
Sure there are cozy coffee shops, thoughtful museums, delicious dining and an evolving craft brewing scene, but if you aren’t a person who loves the great outdoors the appeal of the north might be lost on you.
For those with the ambition to travel in untamed lands, conquer unnamed mountain peaks or gaze into an endless wilderness in every direction, the Yukon has it all.
Here are five unforgettable weekend adventures possible from the Yukon.
Tombstone’s Grizzly Lake
1. Tombstone Territorial Park
If you ask any Yukon’er where the most beautiful spot in the territory is, you’ll likely hear about Tombstone. It’s been dubbed the Patagonia of North America with jagged granite peaks and uninterrupted valleys that can only be defined as rugged. You can find it in Central Yukon near the start of the shale Dempster Highway.
The lack of dense forests and encouragement to hike off trails makes Tombstone’s peaks desirable to those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. Not only will every twist and turn over the terrain provide uninterrupted views of deep valleys, but the potential to spot wildlife is also great in this region.
Just be warned that even in the end of May or end of August, snowfall is likely.
Sam McGee Trail, Carcross.
Home to Canada’s smallest desert and a quaint town that rests between Nares and Bennett Lakes, Carcross was once a staging point for prospectors on their way to the Klondike gold fields. These days it is home to a growing adventure tourism industry, with mountain bike trails cascading down the mountain ridges, following the silver mine routes created by legends such as Sam McGee.
Think of a sport and you’ll find it here. Kayaking. Hiking. Mountain and road biking. Kiteboarding.
Set up your base camp at the scenic but windy campground of Conrad for a cool $12 a night with all the firewood you could use to keep yourself warm or splurge with a cabin rental to enjoy a little luxury in the wilderness.
International Falls, White Pass.
3. White Pass
High in the mountains that connect Yukon with northern BC’s rocky alpine and Alaska’s wet coastal mountain chain, is a lonely highway pass that is surrounded by glacial peaks and countless waterfalls.
Alpine lakes and wildflowers overtake the landscape where spruce trees give way to lichen covered forests. Giant boulders and rocky canyons with clear fast flowing creeks are easily explored.
It’s a land of choose your own adventure. Look to a peak, any of the endless summit options found here and make a day of explorations.
It’s almost impossible to imagine how nearly 100,000 stampeders of the Klondike Gold Rush felt as they ascended the White Pass valley with the tons of goods on their backs in search of the riches.
Almost more impossible to imagine as no hint of civilization is found shortly after leaving the highway.
Alsek Trail, Kluane National Park.
4. Alsek Valley
If you read the various travel accounts for the Alsek Valley, they all claim the Alsek is one of the prime areas for grizzly and wildlife viewing in the Yukon’s Kluane National Park.
Truth be told, I’ve never seen a living thing here that could be counted as big game. But that hardly takes away from the majestic beauty of this river valley.
Listed as a Canadian Heritage River due to being inhabited by indigenous peoples for 10,000 years, the river is fed by glaciers in the St Elias Mountain range which contain Canada’s highest mountain – Mt Logan.
It’s not a difficult valley to access, as the 52km round trip Alsek Valley trail follows an old mining road over a dry path that is fine for a bad weather day. Creek and river crossings a-plenty on this trip, but the vantage points over the braiding river systems, being surrounded by giant peaks and the vastness of the wilderness here makes the Alsek one of the Yukon’s best weekend trips.
Samuel Glacier, Haines Pass.
5. Haines Pass
Technically the Haines Pass is in British Columbia, but as it is only accessible via Alaska or the Yukon, I’m including it in this list.
The jewel of the pass is found in the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, a park so rarely publicized, you likely haven’t heard of it.
Our explorations of this park were planned out using old hunting forums on the internet and following an assortment of exploration roads and sheer bush wacking in muskeg terrain.
But once again, vast glacial valleys, sprawling tundra, rocky spires looming over endless sub-alpine terrain, and historic paths used centuries ago by First Nations and prospectors at the start of the 20th century.
Follow along my adventures in real time: @meandertheworld