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By Monica Bethune
After flying into Vancouver and spending a couple of days sightseeing, I joined a group of other travel consultants for our flight to Whitehorse, Yukon, in northern Canada.
First up on arrival, we did a 28km canoe trip, stopping for a campfire lunch and bison hotdogs. The scenery was beautiful and we saw lots of bald eagles along the way.
Next we boarded the S.S Klondike, an old paddle steamer that was used to carry goods, mail and passengers from Skagway. This was a great introduction to some local history.
We also visited the Yukon Brewery and Distillery where, in addition to beers and sprits, they make yummy things like whisky aged maple syrup and cocktails.
Another highlight was the Lumel Glassblowing studio. Their work is truly beautiful and very clever and they run demonstrations and workshops.
If you want to see the northern lights, the Northern Lights Resort and Spa offers guests a teepee, which has a fire, hot drinks, cards etc. while they wait for the lights to appear. A guide stays until around 2am and will knock on guests’ doors to wake them if the lights show. They also have glass chalet rooms where the lights can be viewed from bed.
We visited the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where animals roam in very large paddocks and you can learn about the fantastic rehabilitation work being done. We were there around feeding time and saw most of the wildlife, which were all unique to the area.
For anyone visiting Whitehorse, the White Pass Heritage Railway to Skagway, Alaska is a must. The 2.5-hour authentic steam train trip travels through the most beautiful scenery as mountains, glaciers, tunnels and bridges pass by. Our guide gave a narration for the whole trip, providing the history of the pass and alerting us to upcoming photo opportunities. Our drive back to Whitehorse was very scenic drive so we stopped a few times for photos.
Dawson City was the heart of the Klondike Gold rush back in 1897 attracting over 40,000 prospectors. Today Dawson has a population of 1500 year-round and is very committed to being an authentic gold rush town and proud of its past. A lot of the buildings have been bought by Parks Canada and have been restored to be exactly as they were.
Highlights from our time in Dawson included the “Now and Then” walking tour run by Parks Canada, the Greatest Klondike Show (a fun way to learn about characters who lived during the gold rush), Diamond Tooth Gerties (an old-fashioned working casino and show hall), Gold panning with Klondike Experience, and a visit to the nearby lookout.
Tombstone National Park is roughly 30 minutes away from Dawson and the scenery is just incredible. We even saw a moose with her two babies on the side of the road. Our group also took a scenic flight over the town and into Tombstone Park, which looked beautiful from above.
The Yukon is an amazing, beautiful and humbling place to visit. If you are visiting British Columbia and the Rockies or doing a cruise and want to add something different, I highly recommend the Yukon.