The Yukon Territory is situated in north-western corner of Canada, bounded by British Columbia to the south, Alaska to the west, the Northwest Territories to the east and the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean to the north. The Yukon Territory is named after a native word from the Loucheux people 'Yu-kun-ah' meaning 'great river', which refers to the Yukon River that drains most of the territory's area. The Yukon Territory is a sub-arctic plateau almost entirely covered by mountains, including some that continue from the Rocky Mountains. The high central Yukon Plateau has an average elevation of about 1,200 metres. The spectacular St Elias and Coast Mountains in the south-western part of the Yukon Territory include Mount Logan (5959 m), the highest peak in Canada.
Visitors are drawn to the Yukon by its vast outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing and climbing and its spectacular scenic wilderness with countless mountains, forests, lakes and rivers. Travelers can explore an unsurpassed wilderness, an exciting history and a rich First Nations culture combined with Gold Rush legends. Often referred to as "Canada's True North" the Yukon offers wild spaces beyond the imagination. The Yukon is home to 25 per cent of Canada's grizzly bears and one of the world's largest non-polar ice caps.
Popular author Jack London lived and worked in the Yukon and his original log cabin can be toured in Dawson City. The Yukon is popular with hikers and mountaineers from all the world as its spectacular mountain ranges offer limitless challenges. Chilkoot Trail is well known among hikers, as well as Kluane National Park is. Outfitters and tour companies can accommodate all interests to help you make the most of your Yukon experience. Visitors can live the gold rush excitement and pan for gold at Free Claim #6 in Dawson City. Canoe enthusiasts have many choices to choose from, ranging from gentle floating tours down the fast-flowing waters of the Yukon River to more challenging trips down the Alsek River, ranked among the best and wildest in North America.
The Yukon is a year-round playground. Wintertime offers a spectacular natural phenomenon called Northern Light or aurora Borealis that has inspired mankind's myths and legends ever since. Follow trails that prospectors took a century ago to reach the Klondike goldfields with your snowmobile or snowshoe through unspoiled wilderness. Enjoy the spectacular winter wonderland cross-country skiing or dogsledding. Adventure never ends in Yukon Territory!
Yukon Territory in Figures
The Yukon has a population of about 31,070 people (1999).
The Yukon Territory covers an area of 483,450 sq km.
Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory with about 22,879 inhabitants (1999)
Almost three-quarters of all Yukoners live in 4 centres, and 2 out of 3 live in Whitehorse.
At least 12 per cent of the Yukon Territory are Native people, registered in 16 bands.
Snag, northwest of Kluane Lake recorded the lowest temperature ever in Canada in February 1947 (- 62.8 º C).
Mount Logan (5,959 m) is the highest peak in the Yukon and in Canada.
There are about 4,700 km of roads in the territory.
Most visitors arrive to the Yukon Territory either by air via Whitehorse Airport or by car coming from British Columbia or Alaska.
The Yukon can be reached by air in less than a day from anywhere in North America. Whitehorse Airport is located east of town off the Alaska Highway. Scheduled flights operate several times daily from Vancouver to Whitehorse. There is also scheduled service from Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, Alaska and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
The Yukon Territory is linked to British Columbia by two major highways. Alaska Highway that was constructed during WW II begins in Dawson Creek, BC and leads 1,014 km through the Yukon passing Watson Lake and Whitehorse to end in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Stewart-Cassiar Highways winds north from near Smithers, BC, meeting the Alaska Highway near Watson Lake in the Yukon.
Dawson Creek, BC to Whitehorse, YT 1,430 km (888 mi)
Haines Junction, YT to Whitehorse, YT 158 km (98 mi)
Inuvik, NWT to Whitehorse, YT 1,222 km (759 mi)
Watson Lake, YT to Whitehorse, YT 454 km (283 mi)
Traveling within the Yukon Territory
The best bet to get around the Yukon is by car. There are car and RV rental stations in Whitehorse. Please be aware that the most roads are gravel. Even though most parts of the Alaska and Klondike Highways are paved they are not necessarily smooth. Headlights must be on at all times on Yukon highways.
Gas prices along the highways are fairly expensive! If you are coming from British Columbia you should fill up your tank before crossing the border. Within Whitehorse and Dawson City gas is much cheaper than anywhere else in the territory. It is a good idea to have some spare even though the main routes have a service station every 50 km.
Yukon's summers are short (June to August) but warm and sunny. Nevertheless, temperatures can drop and weather can change unpredictable. Due to the mountain barrier to the west precipitation is low year-round. Some tourist services do not open until late May and close by October 1. Outside these months visitors are few. Accommodations and services are however mostly available year round.
Health and Safety
In case of an emergency call 5555 for police (RCMP) and 4444 (Except: Whitehorse and Marsh Lake 3333) for medical. If there is no answer for the RCMP number, call 1-(867)-667-5555 (toll-free), or Medical Assistance at 1-(867)-667-3333 (toll-free).
Health Warning: Always boil your drinking water for at least 10 minutes if you take it from lakes or streams! The parasite Giardia lamblia may cause giardiasis.
Means of payment
Besides the most common credit cards (Visa, Master Card and American Express) you might consider carrying some Traveler's Cheques in small denominations. Those are generally accepted like cash and have the advantage of being insured.
However you should always carry some cash, especially if you intend to push forward to more rural areas. Here cash is the only thing that counts as most of the small shops do not have the equipment to accept credit cards. You should not bring German Marks in order to pay your bills. If you intend to pay with US Dollars, look for the Fair Exchange Program logo at participating businesses.
All prices are generally subject to applicable taxes, which might be uncommon for European travelers. Taxes are added when you pay. Usually you have to pay 7 per cent taxes (GST Goods and Service Tax). There is no territorial sales tax in the Yukon.
Waiters in a restaurant generally require a tip, which is added to the bill's total as this is sometimes the only pay they receive. It is up to you, how much you leave, but 10-15 per cent is fairly common. Usually you leave the tip on the table as you go. Tip is also given to cabbies, hairdressers, barbers, hotel attendants and bellhops.
We recommend saving all receipts, as tourists who have their place of residence outside of Canada might be eligible for tax refund. However, this only applies for amounts over CAN $50,00 per receipt (except accommodation receipt where no minimum amount applies) and a minimum of CAN $200,00 in total. Not eligible for tax refund are bills paid for gas or transportation. In any case it might be worthwhile to save receipts for accommodations or larger purchases that are exported. The application for tax refund can be found at the website address shown below. You can file your application up to six months after you have left the country and has to be in writing. A refund cheque will than be mailed to your home address. If you came by plane you are required to send your bording pass with your application. Receipts for goods have to be validated by Canada Customs as you leave Canada.
For further information visit
Visitor Tax Refund.
Most stores are open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 6 pm and noon to 5 pm on Sunday. Canada's major banks have branches in Whitehorse. Other communities have only few branches. Most offer 24-hour automated teller service.
Ivvavik National Park
Ivvavik National Park encompasses an area of 168.4 sp. km and is located about 800 km northwest of Whitehorse and 200 km west of Inuvik, NWT. There is no road access. Access usually is provided by charter aircraft from Inuvik. The park offers high mountains, broad river valleys and endless tundra and the Arctic seacoast. It is on the migration route of the porcupine caribou and is a major waterfowl habitat.
Kluane National Park and Reserve
Kluane National Park and Reserve is located 150 km west of Whitehorse and encompasses an area of 22,000 sq km. The park contains unclimbed peaks, the world's largest non-polar icefields, crystal clear lakes, glaciers and an abundance of wildlife. It is a United Nations World Heritage Site and home to Canada's highest peak, Mount Logan (5950 m). The park is popular with hikers enjoying marked or less defined routes surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Vuntut National Park
Vuntut National Park is bounded to the north by Ivvavik National Park and to the west by Alaska. Access to this 4345 sq km park is by aircraft from the village of Old Crow or by canoe. The park contains thousands of lakes and ponds and is visited by half a million waterfowls each fall. It is also on the migration route of a porcupine caribou herd each spring. It is also home to some archaeological sites that contain undisturbed fossil beds that date back nearly 40,000 years.
The Yukon was long inhabited before the first European fur traders were to arrive. The earliest evidence of human activity was found in caves on the Bluefish River near Old Crow in northern Yukon. This evidence is believed to date back about 20,000 years. First Nation's culture is about 1,000 old. Native groups include Kaska, Teslin, Tagish and Tlingit.
The first European to travel the area was Robert Campbell of the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1840s. Fur traders and whalers on the north were followed by missionaries and the North-West Mounted Police. In 1870 the area became part of the region known as Northwest Territories. In 1896, gold was found in a tributary of the Klondike River and ended in the greatest gold rush the world has ever seen. Thousands of prospectors came to the Yukon and changed it forever. Dawson City was founded at the junction of Klondike and Yukon River and grew to the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg within one month. At its peak, the population has been estimated at 16,000. The Yukon became a separate territory, with Dawson as its capital.
When gold run out, the population of Dawson City began to decline almost immediately. The population of the Yukon Territory dropped to 8,512 by 1911. Larger mines, that used hydraulic dredges remained profitable until the 1960s. During WW II, the Alaska Highway was built and opened up the territory for development. The highway granted access for people, services, industries and tourists to the Yukon. For the first time, non-native population outnumbered the Yukon's First Nations. In 1953 Whitehorse became the new capital.