If you're looking for a good Yukon guide, I can certainly recommend Polly Evans's Bradt Guide to the Yukon - I kept it on my bedside table before, during, and even after the trip! Not only does it give you a great description of everything there is to see and do in the Yukon (tried & tested by yours truly, and also validated by my friend who works in the Yukon tourism industry), but it also includes a fair bit of reliable and fascinating historical information that will help you make the most of your trip.
Another thing you might want to do when you get to Whitehorse is to stop by the Visitor Centre located on 2nd Avenue (http://travelyukon.com/). Since most visitors to the Yukon first land in Whitehorse, the centre offers plenty of information for the entire territory, and even for Alaska. You can pick up several interesting brochures - just let the staff know where you plan on going and they'll fill up a bag with everything that applies! They can also help you with restaurant recommendations, hotel reservations and activity ideas. One free brochure I highly recommend picking up if you plan on exploring the territory by car is called "Road Trip - North of Ordinary". It describes all the sites you'll drive by (with mileage info) along all the highways of the Yukon and eastern Alaska. I used it to make sure we didn't miss anything along the way, and it sure made our time on the road fly by!
Downtown Whitehorse is perfect. It's what I wish Anchorage looked like. It's easy to walk, you feel safe on the streets at night, plenty of places to window shop, it's clean and you automatically get the sense you belong. While I may devote tips to some places individually, let me see if I can give you a general sense of the downtown area. On the far end you have the river creating a boundary and in the distance ultimately creating another boundary are mountains. However, you're not going to walk all of that...what you should walk are the 20 blocks (very small blocks, I promise) to the river and then the 8 or 9 blocks that cross them. It's flat here and actually, from the Visitors Center on, you can get a very good overview of the city. From galleries to restaurants and cafes; from natural beauty set with flowers and trees to the water it has plenty for you to do. In the early morning you get the sense you're in a larger city with people rushing to their place of employment.
But then you see they have allotted enough time to say hello and chat with people on the way and you know Whitehorse is perhaps, the perfect place to live in subarctic.
Can you tell I love this place?
Fondest memory: Whitehorse is my fondest memory of Whitehorse. Rereading my tip above I realize I seem a little sappy and there should be music playing while I'm professing my love to this city. But I can't help it. It's everything Bobby and I were searching for in Anchorage. It just happens to be in a different time zone in a different country pretty far away from where we live...
At Third Avenue and Elliott Street you will find the Old Log Church. Another one of Whitehorse's unique buildings.
It is a log building with an L-shaped plan and a gable roof. The interior consists of stick frame trusses and the roof is covered with cedar shingles.
In 1916, a vestry joining the church was rebuilt and enlarged. The baptistry, porchway and cloakroom were added in 1944 and a belfry was constructed in 1945. A new concrete foundation was a 1964 addition which was followed by interior renovations in 1982.
The first church services in Whitehorse were held in a tent structure in 1900 with the rector and his wife living in an adjacent 12' x 14' tent structure The log church was built by October 1900. During the winter of 1900 the forward portion, now containing the chancel and sanctuary, was partitioned and used by the missionary and his wife as their living quarters until the completion of the rectory in 1901. In 1953, the church was named the Cathedral Church of the Diocese, thus making it the first log cathedral.
The bell tower was originally separate from the church, but in 1910, the tower fell over in a storm and the bell was cracked. Although a new bell was placed atop the church, it was not enclosed until 1945.
Throughout the century, various renovations were made to the church. It was in use until 1960, when it was restored and turned into a church museum.
The building was designated a Territorial Historic Site in 1978.
If you take the time to walk around most of downtown you will often come across murals painte on the buildings. They are great, you can almost be fooled.
If you are fooled it looks like you will just walk into the loading zones of some businesses.
But they really make the back of some old buildings look really neat.
In 1898, the time of the great Gold Rush, Whitehorse became a temporary stopping point for prospectors on their way to the gold fields. Whitehorse was located on the head of navigation on the Yukon River, past 2 major obstacles on the river, Miles Canyon and the Whitehorse Rapids.
With the completion of the White Pass and Yukon Railway, linking Whitehorse with Skagway, Alaska, Whitehorse became a permanent settlement in 1900. Whitehorse saw a short copper boom that ended as soon as 1920. Later, in the 1920s and 1930s Whitehorse developed a reputation as an outfitting and takeoff base, with tourists coming to Whitehorse.
During WW II, Whitehorse played a major role as link between the north and south. The Alaska Highway was built and opened for the public after the war. This replaced the Yukon River as main transportation route. In 1953 the territorial capital was moved from Dawson City to Whitehorse.
Favorite thing: Whitehorse is a city of character, colour and contrasts and is often referred to as 'Wilderness City'. Although Whitehorse is one of the largest urban-designated areas in Canada, the central core is quite small with a unique northern character.
Canadian gold rush of the late 1890s.
Gold was discovered on August 17, 1896, near the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers in western Yukon Territory. The news spread quickly, and by late 1898 more than 30,000 prospectors had arrived. Annual production peaked at $22 million worth of gold in 1900, and soon prospectors began moving on to Alaska. By the time mining ended in 1966, the area had yielded $250 million in gold
The name Whitehorse conjures up visions of the klondike Gold Rush, sled dogs and the brave pioneers who fought the element to build the Alaska Highway.
Fondest memory: Alaska Highway between Whitehorse and Haines.
Stop by Otter Falls. This picturesque falls was once featured on the back of the Canadian 5 Dollar bill.
I will put a picture up here soon of it.
Fondest memory: Travelling the lonely road from Haines Jct. to Aishihik Lake one is liable to encounter the odd wood bison in the area. (click for a larger view)
Fondest memory: The Yukon in mid-late August is just gorgeous, with the bright red colors vibrant! This is the St. Elias Mountains very close to Kluane Lake. I used to see them every morning on a clear day walking to work- breathtaking!
Favorite thing: Take in the natural surroundings. Fireweed (pictured) is a very prominent part of the Yukon nature and is a bright purple in summer, but turns fire red (hence the name) in autumn (late august) littering the roadsides and filling the mountainsides.. just gorgeous. Must see it for yourself.
Head north and travel towards Dawson.
From Dawson you can head up the Dempster Hwy towards Inuvik (a torturous trip) and into the Tombstone mountain range. Experienced backcountry hikers only, but also several good day hike opportunities into the tundra.
On the way back stop at the bakery in the little (about 30 residents) town of Keno along the Silver trail. A great way to relax and enjoy some Klondike history.
For a true feel of the north try a winter visit. These places come into their own when the RVs leave town.
Fondest memory: Went there to visit an old friend and would visit every 3 months if I could. I miss the atmosphere in Whitehorse. Being yourself is expected and if you don't know who you are then expect to feel out of place. Summer is play-time in the north and good weather days are opportunities that are not passed up.
Favorite thing: If you are in Whitehorse for business with the Yukon Government the Government building can be found on Second Avenue.
Favorite thing: If you are in Whitehorse during the winter you might get a chance to look at the Yukon Quest a great sled dog race.