North America > Canada > Northern Canada > Yukon
As this area is rather sparsely populated, places that would barely register as a "spot on the map" elsewhere may well be "major towns" in Yukon terminology
- 1 Whitehorse - The capital of the Yukon
- 2 Dawson City - Historic Klondike gold rush town, now a National Historic Site.
- 3 Watson Lake - The Yukon's most southern community, and home of the famous Signpost Forest.
- 4 Haines Junction
- 5 Carcross
- 6 Old Crow - A small village in the north, and the only community in the territory without road access.
- 7 Beaver Creek
- 8 Faro (Yukon)
- 9 Mayo
- 10 Carmacks
- 11 Tagish
- 12 Ross River
The Yukon is very sparsely populated. The whole territory has only about 30,000 people in it. This is less than many small cities in Southern Canada.
A number of terms are commonly used in the North:
- Someone who has spent less than a full year in the North
- ice bridge
- A road that crosses a river on ice
- Anywhere below the 60th parallel, which is the southern border of Yukon
- A very bulky jacket, a necessity in the winter
- Someone who has lived in the North for a number of years
- tree line
- The northernmost extent of trees, north of which trees do not grow. The exact extent varies depending on elevation.
- winter road
- A road that can only be used in the winter. Usually too wet and muddy in the summer to be passable.
The only "significant" airport in the Yukon is in Whitehorse (YXY IATA). Air Canada offers daily direct flights from Vancouver. Air North offers flights from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, as well as flights from Fairbanks (summer only). Condor offers two weekly flights from Frankfurt airport (FRA), Germany.
The most common way to arrive in the Yukon is by road. However, distances in Yukon are bigger than almost anywhere else in the world. It is not uncommon to go over 200 km between very small towns.
The majority of the people travelling through Yukon are driving on their way to Alaska. There are 2 highways into the Yukon from Southern Canada. The Alaska Highway or BC Highway 97 comes from Dawson Creek in the Northeast of British Columbia. The Cassiar Highway (BC Highway 37) connects with the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) near Terrace between Prince George and Prince Rupert in Central British Columbia. In any case the distance from Vancouver to Whitehorse is about 2417km. That is approximately the same distance as driving from Vancouver to San Diego.
Many travellers also come to the Yukon as part of a tour with an Alaska Cruise. Generally as part of the package it is possible to include a bus tour of parts of the Yukon. In some cases it may be possible to stay over in the Yukon for one or two weeks and return on the next cruise.
If you are not bothered by driving long distances, exploring the Yukon by road can be a great way to see this territory's natural beauty. The distances between service stations can be vast; make sure your vehicle is in good condition, and prepare for the worst. Drive for the conditions and expect to see large animals in the middle of the highway. Obtain a good highway map of the territory as soon as possible. A free map titled "Canada's Yukon Highway Map", found at visitor centres and some service stations, classifies roads into primary (90-100 km/h), secondary (70-90 km/h), and local (50-80 km/h), as well as paved, dust treated, and untreated. This information will be of great use when selecting a route suitable for you and your vehicle.
If the thought of driving such long distances doesn't thrill you, consider crossing some distances in the sky (but this can be quite expensive). Air North is the major regional carrier in the Yukon. It services Dawson City and Old Crow in the Yukon and Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.
Many of the visitors in the winter come to the North specifically to see the Northern Lights. In the summer, the days are very long (up to 24 hours when north of the Arctic Circle).
- Going for dog sled rides is a popular activity in the winter.
- Hunting and fishing are popular in the summer.
- Hike the Yukon sections of the Trans Canada Trail.
Food has to travel a long way to get to the Yukon, so you will not find quite the variety of fruits and vegetables you would in the south, and the prices are significantly higher.
Historically hunting is a way of life in the North and Yukoners still tend to eat a lot more meat, especially wild game, than Southerners.
Whitehorse is a major supply centre and therefore despite the small size you will find all of your favourite chain restaurants as well as many very nice local restaurants that have diverse menus.
The legal drinking age in the Yukon is 19. The Yukon Liquor Corporation operates 6 liquor stores in the territory. These are in Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Dawson, Haines Junction, Faro, and Mayo. Alcohol is also available from "off-sales" of bars. There is a 30% premium for purchasing from off-sales. The liquor stores in the rural communities also operate as government agents and provide services such as driver licences, fishing licences, motor vehicle registrations, property taxes, business licences and court fines. If you require all of these in a single trip you receive a Yukon Yoddeller award.
Some communities in the North are officially "dry" communities. In these communities alcohol will not be available and bringing in excess quantities of alcohol may be illegal.
From the Yukon you can get to Alaska at either the Beaver Creek border crossing on the Alaska Highway, or the Little Gold border crossing on the Top Of The World Highway west of Dawson City. You can also travel to Skagway, Alaska by heading south from Whitehorse and through the north-western tip of British Columbia.
The community of Atlin in the northwest corner of British Columbia is a very interesting little community that can only be accessed from the Yukon.
The Dempster Highway is the northern-most highway in the world. It begins near Dawson City and ends at Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. From Inuvik, you can fly to Tuktoyaktuk for a dip in the Arctic Ocean.