The Yukon Territory is not a destination that readily comes to mind when people think about family-friendly fun vacations, but traveling there is simplified these days with direct international flights to Whitehorse.
Since gold was discovered in the Klondike in 1896 causing a stampede of fortune-seekers to pour into the area, the Yukon Territory became known for one of the biggest gold rushes in history. Today, kids can pan for gold along Bonanza Creek or experience a true frontier town with dirt streets and wooden boardwalks. It’s anything but a typical vacation, and there’s plenty of adventure and excitement around every corner!
It’s a wild life in the Yukon, with many animals visible as you drive along the highways: caribou, moose, mountain goats, Dall sheep, beavers, bald eagles, trumpeter swans…and even the occasional grizzly bear! The Klondike Highway follows the path early prospectors took from Skagway to Whitehorse before turning north to Dawson City. When traveling this route, remember that Skagway is in Alaska, so you’ll need passports to cross the border.
Dawson City is located in the Klondike Valley and was a favorite fishing area for First Nation tribes until August 1896 when large gold nuggets were discovered in Bonanza Creek. Within a year, news of the find reached the outside world and 30,000 people arrived to prospect for gold, turning Dawson City into a bustling frontier city almost overnight. The Dawson City Museum traces the history of that gold rush era and illustrates the lifestyle for children with authentic recreations of a miner’s cabin, bank, hotel and general store. Kids are fascinated with the daily demonstrations of sluice box techniques and information on mining tools, staking and working a claim. Just steps away they can see three steam locomotives of the Klondike Mines Railway that carried supplies to the gold fields. Visit the Jack London cabin, where the author lived during his stay in the Klondike (1887-1898) – restored and relocated in Dawson. Jack London never got rich from his gold claim, but found both fame and fortune with his writing – The Call of the Wild and White Fang are his most beloved works.
Take a Yukon River cruise on a paddlewheeler that began its life ferrying supplies to the miners from the outside world, or pan for gold at several locations where supplies and instruction are provided.
Don’t miss the spectacular scenery and wildlife sightings at Kluane National Park, easily accessible from the Alaska Highway. The park covers a large area and is highlighted with Mount Logan – the tallest mountain in Canada, and Kluane Lake – the largest lake in the Yukon. You can even walk on a glacier and use telescopes at the Tachal Dhal Visitor’s Center to spot sheep – pure white with long, curling horns – on the steep surrounding cliffs.
The Yukon is a vacation adventure that creates plenty of wonderful memories to last a lifetime.