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Facts and tips about the North that visitors may find useful -
Don't be afraid to talk to strangers in the North! Be prepared to meet exceptionally friendly people, who are quick to assist visitors with directions, local information and generally want to offer helpful advice.
Distances between Northern communities can be a surprise for first time visitors. When traveling the highways from one village to the next there is rarely any people living more than a few miles outside the community boundaries. The distance between Watson Lake, Yukon and Teslin, Yukon is 170 miles. There is not much more than spectacular scenery, wildlife and endless vistas between the two villages. Motorists must remember to keep their gas tanks full and fill up often. Watch for wildlife on the highways, there are over 55,000 moose and 6,000 grizzly bears in the Yukon!
Travelers can become dehydrated easily if they do not remember to take in extra fluids. Always travel with extra water and beverages. The climate in the interior of the North is very dry. With a minimum of three hours between services travelers can become dehydrated, especially when the North is experiencing traditionally hot and sunny, summer days. Expect temperatures to range from 27° Celsius (80°F) during the afternoon to 10°Celsius (50°F) in the evenings. Include a light water resistant jacket with the usual light shirt, shorts and slacks. High quality sweat shirts and other wearable souvenirs are readily available.
The Midnight Sun is an unusual phenomenon that surprises many people. They discover how much more energy they seem to have while experiencing a few days or more under the Midnight Sun. If you are traveling between the months of May and July, you will experience 24-hours-a-day sunlight. The solstice occurs on June 21st, which means the sun does not set and continues to shine from approximately May 15 to July 15. The farther North you are the longer the period of continuous sunshine lasts. Local residents have learned to sleep while the sun shines but visitors may want to bring eye covers for when they wish to go to sleep. Some accommodation facilities provide them for their guests and many have blackout blinds on the windows.
Information specific to the Yukon
The population of the Yukon is 33,586. Approximately 23,000 of these folks live in Whitehorse. Ten communities in the Yukon have a population of less than 500 people. Dawson City has a permanent population of just over 2000 residents but in the summer their numbers swell to over 5000. The noncommercial feel in most areas of the Yukon will surprise visitors. It is estimated that less than 3000 visitors are in the Yukon at any given time. Wide-open spaces and friendly faces are the usual visitor experience. The Yukon is approximately 291,000 sq.. miles in size, which compares to the size of Texas. There are more people in attendance at an average North American professional sports stadium than there are total Yukoners.
Some services are limited in the smaller towns and villages. Drug stores, shopping malls and glitzy tourist attractions are in short supply. Instead you will find friendly local residents operating small family businesses which provide essentials like gas, groceries and accommodations. You will find most services available in large central locations such as Whitehorse. Many tourist attractions are, for the most part, a mixture of entertainment combined with historical information for an enjoyable and often entertaining way of learning more about the Yukon's past and present. Whether you raft down the Yukon River, hike through Kluane Park, or take a guided tour of a First Nation's traditional camp you will have a unique and educational experience.
There are 7 museums in the Yukon and all offer Yukon history with different themes and styles and all are worth a visit. From Wooly Mammoths to Jack London's cabin, the Yukon has a varied history!
There are numerous licensed guides to show visitors the Yukon via, plane, train or river raft; or hike the trails, view the wildlife or throw a line towards a trout filled stream. There is so much to do while in the Yukon. Many wilderness adventure companies are small operators who offer personalized service.
Unique laws and traditions are always good to know:
Some of the top things to do while in the Whitehorse area:
1. Experience the Yukon River:
2. Experience the great outdoors:
3. Visit the Takhini Hot Springs were you can relax in mineral water at 38° C (100° F). Picnic grounds are on site.
4. Tour the many art galleries, private and public, through out the city. The Yukon Government Art Collection has piece added to its collection annually. Many of which are on view throughout various Government buildings, including Yukon College's main campus in Whitehorse.
5. Day trips out of Whitehorse can be made to:
6. Experience the First Nations Culture of the Yukon. Through a diverse mix of cultural events, historical museums and attractions the First Nations of the Yukon allow visitors to experience first hand the wonderment and spirituality that defines their culture.
7. Take in some of the festivities in Whitehorse such as the Storytelling Festival, Commissioners Potlatch, Canada Day, and the Solstice Dance to name a few.
8. Yukon cultural history is displayed and interpreted at 4 different Museums in Whitehorse. There are three more through out the Yukon. All are remarkable for their excellent displays and high quality programs. "How did people in 1898 survive -50 degree temperatures without today's severe weather fabrics", you ask? The answer can be found at the MacBride Museum!
9. Attend a live theatre show of an 1890s Gold Rush vaudeville show or a canteen show replicating the more humorous events of the World War II era in the Yukon.
10. Explore the history of the area through the Museums, Historical Sites and several interpretive centres. The SS Klondike Historical Site is a restored sternwheeler complete with original china in the dining room and Captain's log. Take a walking tour of Whitehorse, offered through the Yukon Museums and Historical Association. There you will learn why the log skyscrapers were built.
11. Dine in one of the many fabulous restaurants through out the City. This critic can recommend steak and seafood, Prime Rib, First Nations traditional foods, Deli, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Thailand and Italian cuisine restaurants.
And a few not to be missed sites and attractions throughout the Yukon:
12. While in Watson Lake visit the Northern Lights Center, the only planetarium in North America featuring the myth and science of the Northern Lights.
13. Enjoy the many campsites available in the Yukon. All well maintained, stocked with firewood and a must if you enjoy the outdoors.
14. Festivals not to be missed include the Dawson City Music Festival and the Alsek Music Festival in Haines Junction.
15. The Top of the World Highway provides travelers with a route between Dawson City and Fairbanks, Alaska. However, it is also offers a unique view of the Yukon from "the top of the world". Breath-taking vistas remind travelers how vast the North truly is.
16. Visit Dawson City, a modern community that has preserved its past, and allows today's visitors to experience the rich living history of the Klondike Gold Rush. A must see Museum and great historical sites.
17. Hike the Chilkoot Trail; this 33-mile/53-km trail begins in Dyea Road and climbs the Chilkoot Pass to Lake Bennett, following the historic route of the gold seekers of 1897-1898. Reservations for departure dates must be made through Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada. See their listing on our recommended sites shown above.
18. Take a guided trip by horse back into a secret valley where Moose and Caribou go to mate and shed their horns. A mystical place few people get to experience.
19. Enjoy a wild river-rafting trip down the Tatshenshini, Alsek or Firth River. Guided trips of one day or a full week are offered.
20. View Mount Logan and the Kaskawulsh Glacier, Canada's highest peak, on a flight-seeing tour.
21. Rent a canoe and drift down the Yukon River; wildlife, pristine wilderness, Five Finger Rapids, Fort Selkirk and the Bonanza Creek gold fields are a few of the sights on the way to Dawson City that you can see only if you are on the river.
22. View the Tintina Trench - At kilometer 465 on the Klondike Highway, this is a remarkable example of plate tectonics and the power of the earth.
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