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Take on the Yukon: Get Lost in Its Secluded Beauty

A five-day road trip from Whitehorse to Kluane National Park, then down into Haines, Alaska

Beautiful snow-covered mountains high in the sky amongst the clouds

On a drive through the Yukon and into Alaska—an almost 800-kilometre round trip—we only passed a handful of cars.

It’s no surprise: Yukon’s population is only about 38,000, and almost 26,000 of that is in Whitehorse. The number of monthly visitors to Canada’s smallest territory peaks in July at around 78,000. So quite often, we’d experience the beauty of the north in relative solitude.

A caribou stands in a northern Canadian field

First, we headed to the outer edge of Whitehorse to check out the 700-acre Yukon Wildlife Preserve (home to 11 species of northern mammals, including mule deer, woodland caribou and elk) and to soak in the Takini Hot Pools, which have been operating for over 100 years.

We then drove 150 kilometres west to Haines Junction, a small village that serves as the doorstep to Kluane National Park and Reserve. If you go, be sure to try homemade bread or one of the daily specials at Village Bakery (they have a mix of deli sandwiches, pizzas and surprisingly delicious Mexican food) and set up your tent at one of the campgrounds nearby.

An overhead view of a small village just outside of Kluane National Park and Reserve

Drive up and down the park’s main corridor for access to a wide variety of hiking trails ranging in difficulty, like Rock Glacier, about an hour and a half to two hours to stunning panoramic views, and the 548-metre climb up the King’s Throne trail—but be careful to keep track of your travel buddy.

When my friend and I hike together, we each move at our own pace, always keeping each other in sight. As I passed the ‘seat’ of the throne (a plateau with surrounding rocky ridges), though, I thought I lost her, and a few minutes later, the panic started to set in: Was there anyone around to help? Thankfully, I eventually spotted her enthusiastically waving a few hundred feet ahead.

Two women and a man outside of their orange tent at Kluane National Park

Dramatic incident aside, the most memorable moment of the entire trip was a plane tour over the mountains (book with Kluane Glacier Air Tours) where we saw Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada. The landscape is striking and seems to go on forever.

From there, we drove 240 kilometres south to Haines, Alaska, where you can search for eagles on the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve and have a pint or two of local favourite Lookout Stout or the light-bodied flagship beer, Dalton Trail Ale, at Haines Brewing Company.

Finally, opt to take a very scenic ferry ride over into Skagway, Alaska, and drive back to Whitehorse via the Klondike Highway, or simply retrace your steps.

Whichever you choose, though, make sure to stick together and enjoy the remoteness side by side.

Inspired and want to find out more about some of the best National Parks Canada has to offer? Check out our list of Best Canadian Parks to Check Out This Year for Canada’s 150th birthday.


Image credit: Government of Yukon and Parks Canada