Planning to visit Yukon in Winter? Here is an itinerary to help you plan a vacation to the place less travelled in Canada.
Before going through this itinerary, read – A Guide to Planning a Trip to Yukon in Winter.
Day 1:Arrival & Northern LightsArrival: If you’ve heeded this advice and flown Air North, you will arrive at Erik Nielsen Airport in downtown Whitehorse, Yukon. For the greatest ease of travel, you will want to rent a vehicle to travel across with the wide Yukon expanse and make the most of your adventure. Erik Nielsen Airport hosts 2 rental car agencies: Driving Force and Budget. So hop in your car, drive the 10 minutes into downtown Whitehorse, and check-in at one of our premier downtown hotels, hostels, and cabins. Take time today to get your bearings, take in the Yukon’s majesty, and maybe walk around your new neighborhood. You’ll have a busy day tomorrow, so get some rest or you can start your trip with a spectacular night out!!
Enjoy a guided Northern lights tour.
~ 10:00pm – Northern Lights Viewing – At 10:00pm the wonderful staff at Northern Tales will pick you up at your hotel and drive you about 25 minutes out of town. This far out, you’ll avoid the light pollution from downtown Whitehorse. You can leave the mukluks at home this time, as you’ll be treated to a heated viewing facility. At the site, you’ll relax with hot drinks and snacks. Once the campfire is roaring outside, you can make your way round to roast marshmallows and take in the quiet, clear winter night Last but not least, lift your eyes to the skies for the breathtaking Aurora Borealis displays – and don’t forget to sing, if you want to watch them dance. At around 2:30am, the staff will return you to your Whitehorse hotel.
Day 2 – Yukon Wildlife Preserve
Breakfast at Burnt Toast Cafe – Head down to Burnt Toast Café at 2112 2nd Avenue in downtown Whitehorse for a hearty, delicious breakfast. Choose from skillets, eggs benedict, scrambles, French toast options, and more!
Pick up cross-country skis Hop in your car and drive to 9002 Quartz Road and rent a pair of Cross Country Skis at Icycle Sport.
Skiing at Yukon Wildlife Preserve: Now you’re off! Head north towards the Alaska Highway and drive 19km until turning left onto the Takhini Hot Springs Road. Follow the Takhini Hot Springs Road for 8 km and turn right to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Pick up your self-guided tour map, check out the gift shop, and pay your $15/adult entry fee at the gate.Now strap on your skis and take a leisurely ski around the 5km ski trails, stopping to admire the animals of course! The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is home to Mountain Goats, Woodland Caribou, Arctic Fox, Lynx, Thinhorn Sheep, Moose, Snowshoe Hare, Muskox, Elk, Mule Deer, and Wood Bison.
3:30pm: Takhini Hot Springs – After skiing through the fresh winter’s air, you’ll be ready for a relaxing soak in the hot springs; good thing you’re only 2 minutes away! Continue down the Takhini Hot Springs Road for 1.5km and you’ll arrive at these wonderfully relaxing, naturally fed, outdoor hot pools. Soak your muscles and beat the soreness with a long rest in the pools. And don’t forget the photo-op! There’s a seasonal frozen hair competition, so dip those locks and start sculpting.
6:00pm: Dinner at the Wheelhouse – After a nice long soak, drive the 30km back to downtown Whitehorse and get freshened up for a night on the town! Dress a little more than casual, and head over to Whitehorse’s finest dining establishment, The Wheelhouse Restaurant – located just behind Icycle Sport and Midnight Sun Coffee. Ask their knowledgeable staff for pairing recommendations and get ready for a relaxing evening of delicious food in a historical ambience. If you come on a Wednesday, you’ll also be treated to live jazz music while you eat.
8:00pm: Night Cap at The Dirty Northern – With relaxed muscles and a full belly, you’ll be about ready to call it a night. Park your car and walk down to the end of Main Street for a night cap and – if you’re lucky – some live local music at The Dirty Northern Public House.
Day 3: Takhini River
8:30am: Breakfast at The Gold Pan Saloon – You’ll want a hearty Yukon breakfast to start today, so head over the Gold Rush Inn’s adjoining restaurant The Gold Pan Saloon; it’ll be a short trip if you’re already staying at this Yukon-themed hotel! The ambience here is rustic and the food will stick to your bones – it’s just want you want to fuel today’s dog sledding adventure!
5:30pm – Dinner at The Miner’s Daughter – You’re no doubt hungry after today’s epic adventure. You also no doubt noticed the happy customers leaving the restaurant next to The Dirty Northern during your night cap last night. So go down to The Miner’s Daughter, located directly next to The Dirty Northern for a delicious dinner in a high-end casual atmosphere.
Day 4 – Trip to Dawson.
You have the option of flying Air North to Dawson and end your trip at Dawson. Because there are no car rental agencies outside of Whitehorse, though, you must decide if you will drive both directions or fly; you cannot pickup or drop off your rental car in Dawson.
Flying to Dawson
- Assuming you took a morning flight to Dawson, after you arrived at Dawson, join for a guided tour of the city — hear the history of Dawson City and the Gold Rush, visit the site of Discovery and Dredge No. 4. There are few options for guided tours with Klondike Experience.
- If you couldn’t get a chance to see Northern Lights in Whitehorse, you can join for guided tours here too.
Driving to Dawson
9:30am – 5:30 pm – Drive to Dawson – An Adventure : Pick up some hot breakfast to go, and head out on the road. There’s no sense in coming all the way to the Yukon and not seeing historic Dawson City, the heart of the Klondike. With winter driving conditions you’ll want to take your time driving the 533km north to Dawson. Drive slowly and watch for wildlife like Lynx, Bison, and Arctic Fox. On this drive you’ll get the chance to see more Yukon communities like Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, and Stewart Crossing; each has something unique to offer, so stop in along your way and talk to the locals.
If you have never driven in winter conditions, you needn’t be worried. Here are a few tips to remember:
- – Confirm with your rental car agency that the vehicle you are driving has winter tires. All Wheel Tread is sufficient for more mild climates, but on these icy roads you need the strength of Winter Treaded Tires
Weight – This is particularly important if you are driving either a rear-wheel-drive vehicle (not recommended), or a truck or van wherein the back of the vehicle is lighter than the front. In order to prevent fishtailing and to have more control, you must keep weight in the back of the car. You can buy sandbags at any gas station for this; or, you may have enough weight depending on the equipment you are bringing to Dawson.
Smooth and Steady – Winter is not the time to test your vehicle’s 0-60 time! Drive at a steady, comfortable pace and avoid any subtle changes, either abrupt stops or sharp turns. In the same vein, your vehicle will need more time and space to slow down and accelerate when gripping ice and snow covered roads, so don’t tailgate! You’ll want to do everything a little slower, including reducing your speed on corners
Don’t Over Correct – If you do lose control while driving and start to slide, it is important not to overcorrect your turn. Stay calm and steady, turning into the skid to regain control of the vehicle.
Pump your break – If you must break quickly, pump your break rather than holding your foot down. Again, this will help your tires to grip the road, rather than create an ice-skid behind you.
Watch the Ditch – When everything is covered in white snow, it can be hard to differentiate the ditch from the road. But in the winter, there is also much less traffic on the road so don’t be afraid to drive closer to the center of the highway, rather than risk getting stuck in the ditch
If you get stuck – If you lose control or stop too far into the ditch, you may get stuck in the snow. But don’t panic, this can be an easy problem to remedy. First, dig out the snow around your tires. If you can, have someone push the car from behind while you slowly accelerate. If you can’t move forward, try reversing in your car’s tracks. Often times this takes a bit of a rocking motion, so allow the car to fall back as you accelerate into the push. Finally, if none of these work and your tires are not able to grip the snow, find sticks, branches, or better yet flat wood, to wedge beneath your tires. This gives the tread something other than ice to grip to so you can get out the tracks.
Be Prepared – Accidents happen, and in the tundra it is vital that you are prepared. Before embarking on a northern roadtrip like this, there are a few things you’ll absolutely want to pack: A shovel, a warm blanket/ sleeping bag, matches and fire starter, first-aid kit, warm clothes, a flare, water, and maybe a little food (ie: granola bars). With these few items you can keep yourself warm and safe until you can flag down another vehicle on the road.
6:00pm Dinner at the Drunken Goat Taverna – That was a lot of driving; now it’s time to put your feet up and relax with a warm meal. Head over to The Drunken Goat Taverna on Second Ave to enjoy a savory souvlaki platter and a stiff drink, all while sitting nestled in front of their cozy fireplace.
8:00pm Night Cap and Sleep at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City – Now that you’re fed and full of warmth head over to the Downtown Hotel for a final night cap before retiring to one of the comfortable rooms in this historic hotel.
Day 5 – Tombstone Park8:30am – Breakfast at The Downtown Hotel – Get ready for another true Yukon excursion with a hearty breakfast in the Sourdough Saloon, attached to the Downtown Hotel. Things quiet down the further you get north, especially in winter, so this might be your only option for a hot breakfast served with fresh Yukon coffee.
10:00am – 5:00pm – Tombstone Park Driving & Snowshoeing Excursion – Today the folks at the Klondike Experience will pick you up at your hotel for a full day’s worth snowshoeing along the frozen North Klondike River. After driving up the famous Dempster Highway, stopping for plenty of photo opportunities, you’ll enter into the majestic Tombstone Territorial Park. Next, you’ll arrive at a heated cook-shack for coffee, tea, snacks, water and a hearty lunch to prepare for your snow-shoe hike. This is a side of the Yukon few get to see, and you won’t want to miss! But bundle up! It’s going to be cold, and you’re going to be outside! Don’t worry though, by 5:00pm you’ll be back at your hotel, ready for a hot dinner and a stiff Yukon Jack!
Day 6: Return to Whitehorse
8:00am – Drive to Whitehorse – You’ll want to get an early start today, so that you can get the most of your remaining time in the Yukon. But be prepared – the sun can rise as late as 10:10am in winter, so you may be driving in the dark for a few hours. With hot coffee, a warm car, and sore legs from yesterday’s excursion, you’ll welcome a few peaceful hours of watching rugged mountains and snow-laden trees pass by the window.
4:00pm – Arrive in Whitehorse and have dinner – After your drive, check-in to your hotel. To make the most of your trip, choose a different one from where you stayed before Dawson! Have a nap, if need be, tonight’s going to be a late night. There’s no doubt that by this point in your trip, you’ve met with your fair share of Yukon locals. And surely they’ve suggested their favorite place for dinner. Take some time to wander around town and have a bite to eat at one of our unique Yukon restaurants.
If you are not visiting Dawson.
If you choose not to visit Dawson you can take daily ice fishing, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, and snowmobiling excursions within Whitehorse, through Northern Tales or other tour companies.
Shopping on Main Street –Take a walk down neighbouring Main Street. With pioneer themed storefronts and numerous locally-made souvenir for sale, this is the perfect place to find gifts for your family and friends back home.
At the Airport Chalet – Alas, it is the end of your journey. You’ll have photos of the arctic, stories of this forgotten land, and hopefully no scars of frostbite, to take home to your friends and family in the south. Pack away your bootleg and exchange numbers with your newfound friends. Return your rental car, and have your last Yukon meal in style. The Airport Chalet is located directly across from the Erik Nielsen Airport. It’s not fancy. It’s not five-star. There will be no three-course entrée. But you can be sure, you will be among friends. While you wait, you can talk to the locals or admire the historic Yukon photos that line the wall. And you won’t be late for flight!
Adios, Cheechako – to the Yukon once more, may you come!