Yukon River near Whitehorse
Kayaking: Playboaters now cruise the same Yukon River the gold-rushers once cursed. Spin Wave, right in town, allows for all but the most aerially ambitious moves. About 45 minutes away, the 12-kilometre Wheaton River run provides class II thrills.
Paddling: Canoeists can commune with the ghost of Sam McGee on Lake Laberge, whose 50-kilometre fetch is only 45 minutes from town. Sea kayakers will get their tidal fix two hours away at Skagway, Alaska. Hiking: It doesn’t get any better than Kluane National Park, just two hours away. Closer to town, there’s also the Golden Horn and 6,561-foot Mount Lorne.
Mountain biking: From the Grey Mountain trailhead near town, hundreds of kilometres of varied singletrack fan out above the Yukon River. Mount McIntyre offers less technical trails even closer to town.
Skiing: Also on Mount McIntyre, a world-class Nordic recreation centre with 60 kilometres of skinny-ski trails to help Yukoners make it through the winter.
As the capital of the Yukon—and a genuine tourist mecca in the summer—Whitehorse has pretty well everything a transplanted southerner could want. When it comes to eating out, Giorgio’s Cuccina draws crowds for its authentic Italian, and the Klondike Rib and Salmon has people lined up around the block for BBQ. At night, locals and tourists head to The Discovery Bar, Lizard’s, Sam McGee’s Bar and Grill or The Kopper King, packed on Thursdays for $2.50 pints. In the winter, Whitehorse still rocks with The Frostbite Music Festival and the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, a February festival celebrating the North’s colourful history. And as the largest town on our list, Whitehorse also has the most movie theatres: two.
Other factoids » Whitehorse is the smallest city to have held Canadian Idol auditions » the plane that serves as a wind vane at the international airport actually flew during WW II » the city gets its name from the White Horse Rapids, said to look like the mane of a horse, until they were tamed by a dam