Travelers who have experienced an Alaska Inside Passage cruise from Seattle or Vancouver have witnessed the incredible beauty of the North. But further exploration of the Canadian territory known as the Yukon — on an optional land excursion through Skagway, an RV journey from British Columbia or Anchorage, a flight to Whitehorse on a package tour, or on a self-drive FIT — may be just what your clients are seeking for a getaway that includes postcard scenery, wildlife, photography, fun, food, history, adventure, and wonderment.
Here are ten points that shed some (Northern) light on why your clients will be more than grateful that you facilitated a connection between them and the Yukon:
1. Lighting the Way.
Some visitors make a pilgrimage to the Yukon specifically to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. While there is no guarantee of seeing them, it’s a worthwhile experience to get up-close-and-personal with the Yukon night sky. At 1:20 a.m. in Dawson City, we found ourselves staring at the eerie, flowing, almost kaleidoscopic movements in the sky. The dancing formations appeared to be white in color but those who took time exposures with their cameras were able to capture the surreal green colors of the Aurora.
2. Pristine Paddles.
Whether novice or expert, whether it’s a three-hour canoe paddle from Whitehorse to the Takhini River or a 13-day journey all the way to Dawson City, the Yukon River is something to behold. On sunny, calm days, the mountains, trees and that big, blue Yukon sky full of billowy, white clouds is perfectly reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water.
3. …And Paddlewheelers.
In Dawson City, you can ride on the Klondike Spirit, a paddlewheeler that passes Moosehide Settlement, visits the Paddlewheel Graveyard, and travels on to the point where the Klondike River flows into the Yukon River. Brad Whitelaw, the boat owner, said that “visitors are amazed at how easy you can get into nature, around every corner and bend of the river…it’s a humbling experience.”
4. Up in the Sky.
A sky view of the Yukon can be incredible. In Whitehorse, Dave Sharp from Tintina Air flew us in a Piper Navaho to the historic settlement of Fort Selkirk, otherwise only accessibly by hiking or by the river. In Dawson City, with Bob Skinner of Trans North at the controls, we flew by helicopter to the Tombstone Mountains, which were nothing short of breathtaking. Bob noted that visitors were always amazed “at what nature has created.”
5. On the Wing.
On my first morning in Whitehorse, I spotted a juvenile bald eagle on the rocky river shore and took about 150 photos in 10 minutes. This was surpassed two days later on a short canoe trip on the river, where we watched as dozens of golden eagles and bald eagles were flying, swooping, fishing and posing for photos on overhanging branches, only a few feet away from our canoe.
6. Down on the Trails.
Walking or hiking in the Yukon can be customized to the preference of the visitor. Experiences can range from strolling the Millennium Trail in Whitehorse, to exploring picturesque Miles Canyon, hiking in Kluane National Park, or trekking up one of the mountains that surround the city. Outside of Dawson City, the arduous climb up the Chilkoot Trail was once the only travel option during the Gold Rush in 1898. Today, hikers challenge the trail for the adventure, a sense of accomplishment and for the incredible vistas.
7. Literary Walks.
In Dawson City, you can easily walk to Jack London’s house (author of "The Call of the Wild," "White Fang" and more). Nearby is the cabin where Robert Service, known as "The Bard of the Yukon,” lived. His poems include "The Spell of the Yukon" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee."
8. Knocking Elbows.
The Yukon is the size of the state of California, and while the state has roughly 38 million residents, the population of the Yukon is only 38,000. One of the locals commented, “There’s lots of elbow room in the Yukon” — and just about everywhere you go, there’s a panoramic sense of beauty.
9. Fresh, Tasty Food.
All of our meals featured fresh, tasty dishes, generous portions and great service. In Whitehorse, we dined at the Wheelhouse, Antoinette’s (Caribbean flavor) and Georgio’s Cuccina (Italian). In Dawson City, it was The Drunken Goat (Greek fusion), Sourdough Joe’s (try the Yukon Salmon Burger), and coffee and muffins at the Alchemy Café.
10. Fun? You Bet!
In Dawson City, after you drink your Yukon Jack Whisky with a preserved human toe in the glass, you become a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club! You can stay at Bombay Peggie’s, a former brothel, and then enjoy the musical show and casino at Diamond Tooth Gerties. If you like to drink early, you can head to the Snake Pit at 9 a.m.; or if in Whitehorse, the “breakfast club” is at the 98 Hotel. On Discovery Days (celebrating the discovery of gold on August 16, 1896), you can watch the annual parade and then cheer on one of the souped-up cars racing in the Mud Bog. You can pan for gold; enjoy a humorous walking tour of Dawson; ride the famous White Pass and Yukon Route Railway from Skagway or Fraser to Carcross; and then lose yourself in the Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world.
The Yukon is a great getaway for those who love outdoor adventure as well as those who cherish the sounds of silence. It is perfect for travelers looking to connect with the people, the flavor, the traditions and the history of a destination. And for your clients, it will be one of those experiences where they’ll remark “we wish we knew about this this place years ago."