You heard it here first: the Yukon is the new Iceland.
Hear me out. Iceland used to be the place to go for outdoor lovers seeking something under the radar. And while Iceland is still very much on my travel wish list, it’s hard to call it a “hidden gem” – it seems that everyone and their grandma has discovered it, visited it, and posted a selfie from the Blue Lagoon to their Instagram.
The Yukon appealed to us for a few different reasons. It’s always been in the back of my mind as a place I’d like to go – and it just so happens that we didn’t get to visit it on our Woods Explorer journey. So, we booked a trip.
We didn’t realize that the Yukon was such a popular place to visit until we were there. Scrolling through our social media during our down time, we noticed that an absurdly high number of our friends and acquaintances were also currently in the territory. Even Justin Trudeau was there.
You could easily spend a month exploring the Yukon. In fact, I would have loved to devote several weeks to driving up through BC, spending some time hiking and camping, then making our way up the Dempster to the Arctic Circle. Alas, our vacation time was limited, so we had to adjust our travel plans to fit with our schedule.
We settled on the Klondike/Kluane Loop suggested by the Travel Yukon website. We liked that:
- it was a loop, meaning we’d get to see as much as possible;
- it took us out to Kluane National Park;
- it lead us through the two “metropolises” of the Yukon, Whitehorse and Dawson City;
- it brought us close to Tombstone Territorial Park (we planned an extra day and night to explore this gem);
- it allowed us to dip into Alaska, adding one state to my “have visited” list (I think I’m at 23…); and
- it fit nicely with our schedule.
We flew from Vancouver to Whitehorse, and let me say – I am a big fan of little airports. Everything always seems so quick and easy. We arrived in Whitehorse mid-day, which gave us plenty of time to do some exploring.
When researching accommodations, I was generally underwhelmed with the options in Whitehorse. The hotels seemed to range from seedy to mediocre – and they weren’t terribly cheap. We opted to stay at a little studio unit from AirBnB, which suited us perfectly. As a bonus, a couple of pups lived in the main home, including this cute little one:
Whitehorse is right up our alley. Its population is about 25,000 – remember now, the entire population of the territory is only around 36,000. But for the size, it seems to have a heck of a lot of amenities. We found a few gems (Burnt Toast Cafe for lunch, Baked Cafe and Bakery for breakfast – oh my GOSH, the cinnamon pullapart thingies are to die for), toured the local brewery, and decided we quite like Whitehorse.
Then, we made the six(ish) hour trip up to Dawson City. I thought the drive was quite scenic – little did I know what was yet to come. We pulled over at a few lookouts, grabbed (then ate) a bunch of carrots from a farm stand, and stopped into various gas station general stores to loads up on road trip essentials (Coke Zero, gummy worms, etc.)
We stayed two nights in Dawson City. In between the two, we camped at Tombstone Territorial Park, which I’ll talk about in my next blog post.
We spent our first night in Dawson at Juliette’s Manor. The hostess was lovely (but not named Juliette, which threw me off). She said to pretend that we were staying at a long lost relative’s house, and that’s exactly what it felt like – very comfortable. We had an early start the next morning because we wanted to maximize our Tombstone time, and she made sure to set out some breakfast for us despite the ungodly hour.
Our time in Dawson felt short but sweet – we seemed to always be rushing around and didn’t get to spend as much time exploring it as I would have liked to. I thought the town was positively quaint. We shamelessly did an old-timey photoshoot at Peabody’s Photo Parlour, which was ridiculously fun. We stopped by at the last minute and they stayed open to accommodate us, which was very kind. We didn’t want to take too much of their time since they probably wanted to go home, so I felt kind of panicked as I rooted through their most impressive tickle trunk of Victorian gowns and can-can attire. We rate the Peabody photos as a must do tourist activity. When in Rome, folks!
Check in later this week for part 2 of our Yukon adventures: the one with the epic hikes and epic photos.