Go wild this summer in the Yukon.
This northern adventure playground offers spectacular wilderness and wildlife opportunities unlike anywhere else in Canada. Everything you've heard about the land of the midnight sun is true: magical, pristine, untamed, awe-inspiring. Choose an adventure, then choose your expert Yukon Wild guide and let the fun begin.
Hiking/Backpacking: Grizzly Lake Trail
Tombstone Territorial Park
Government of Yukon
The name "Tombstone" is misleading here: this park doesn't depict the end of the of world, more like the beginning of time. It's been left so wild, so pristine it's an undeniable privilege to spend time here where, for 8,000 years it was home only to First Nations people and wildlife.
The Grizzly Lake Trail (11.5 km), like most trails in the park, is rocky and oftentimes steep. You'll need to rely on your expert guide to not only lead the way but take you off-trail occasionally to spectacular scenes such as the Mount Monolith Lookout and the Twin Lakes Viewpoint.
Hiking/Backpacking: Divide Lake Trail
Tombstone Territorial Park
Government of Yukon | Fritz Mueller
Helicopter access is sometimes the most efficient way to reach remote regions - not only quickly - but with minimal impact to the area. That's certainly the case with Tombstone.
Hiring an adventure operator to organize this difficult backcountry excursion not only helps you, but the incredibly sensitive ecosystem you're about to discover. In this untouched wilderness you'll encounter plants and animals that are specific to the area, including some that are nowhere else to be found on earth.
The Divide Lake Trail (6 km) will take to you to the deep blue waters of Divide Lake, your reward after traversing through boulder fields, cairns and creeks all day.
Hiking & Backpacking: St. Elias Lake Hike
Kluane National Park
Paddy Pallin & Nathan Hendry
The spectacular ice fields and alpine-covered vistas of Kluane National Park never disappoint, whether it's your first visit or your eighth. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is a hiker's dream, showcasing a high level of biodiversity, breathtaking scenery and endless routes to explore.
The St. Elias Lake Hike is fairly easy and can be done in a day (7.6 km) or with some preparation, as an overnighter. Camping requires special coordination, including campsite reservations and proper food preparation.
During your hike, you'll see the transition from coniferous to sub-alpine terrain, identify wildflowers and spot wildlife such as bears, moose, beavers and mountain goats.
Hiking & Backpacking: Donjek Route
Kluane National Park
Government of Yukon | C. Archbould
For a closer look at the ice fields at Kluane National Park (the largest non-polar ones in the world), go a little deeper.
The Donjek Route (96 km) is one of the most popular hikes, taking outdoor enthusiasts into some magnificent, pristine mountain wilderness over eight to 10 days. Hikers will be rewarded with views of the Burwash Uplands as well as the Donjek Glacier itself. Simply breathtaking.
Parks Canada's website description of the Donjek Route doesn't mince words: "A route is not a trail. Routes are not marked with signs or maintained in any manner." Suffice it to say, you will want to take advantage of the many local guides who are lucky enough to call Canada's largest mountain range their backyard.
This is the kind of challenging hike where preparation is key, so let your Yukon Wild guide take care of every detail from bringing food (and the mandatory bear-resistant food canisters) to obtaining a wilderness permit.
Rafting: Firth River
Ivvavik National Park
Nahanni River Adventures
Is there any stronger 'call of the wild' than land's end? Sitting atop North America, rafting along the Firth River will take you through some of the most diverse and dramatic scenery in northern Yukon. And we mean dramatic.
Multi-day Firth River rafting trips offer total immersion in a wilderness environment. Nature here is unscripted, pristine in its beauty. From rushing through canyon whitewaters to floating past fields of wildflowers to spotting Dall sheep and possibly the elusive Porcupine caribou, rafting lets you experience it all from an incredible vantage point.
Ivvavik is remote, so adventurers must fly-in/fly-out. Leave the logistics to your rafting outfitter, who will take care of everything from transportation to wetsuit. You only have to bring an appetite for adventure.
Nahanni River Adventures
One of the most iconic ways of experiencing the Yukon is to raft down the famous, world-class rapids of the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers. Taking you through dramatic Himalayan Mountain-like valleys and past some of the most active glaciers in the world, you'll see awe-inspiring scenery while navigating the ride of your life.
Each river takes you through the world's largest non-polar ice cap and into the world's largest biological preserve. Be prepared with a waterproof camera to capture pictures of bald eagles and grizzly bears.
The lower Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers merge together in a "Y" where the Tatshenshini flows into the Alsek River. Before this point, the upper portions of each river are drastically different, so consider rafting both to maximize your appreciation for this beautifully diverse region.
Rafting: Peel River
Government of Yukon | Peter Mather
The Peel River has six tributaries, each with its own personality and set of highlights. To raft the Peel River, you'll start on either the Hart, Wind, Bonnet Plume or Snake river; they range from entry-level rapids to white-water, so talk with your rafting guide to determine the best route for your group's comfort level.
Regardless of where you start, you'll need to fly in (and fly out) giving you a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the watershed region and majestic Ogilvie Mountains from above. Given enough time, your guide can even take you out to another Yukon icon: the Dempster Highway, where it crosses the river at Fort McPherson (via ferry in the summer, ice bridge in the winter). You'll end your trip at a large gravel bar nicknamed the "Taco Bar", where you'll get a chance to exchange stories with other rafters and paddlers while waiting for your floatplane ride out.
Rafting: Snake and Wind Rivers
Government of Yukon
Part of the Peel Watershed, the Snake and Wind rivers belong to this collection of stunning wild mountain rivers. Set amongst craggy, dramatic mountain ranges, the only way to access this stunning location is by air. But once you arrive and start rafting, the waters are generally calm, rated with easy Class I and II rapids.
The only thing to rival the magnificent scenery during your rafting expedition is the view from above, where you'll be mesmerized by the unspoiled panoramas of the mountain boreal ecosystem below.
In the company of an experienced, licensed guide-interpreter, you'll learn about the cultural heritage of this land as well. You'll meander through regions where woolly mammoths once roamed, where First Nations people thrived for thousands of years, where prospectors and trappers searched for riches.
Canoe: Teslin River
Government of Yukon
Known equally for its mellow waters as it is for its wildlife population, the Teslin River is perfect for paddlers looking for a leisurely ride. This is one of the Yukon River's largest tributaries, with wide, gentle rapids that can occasionally speed up, but generally provide a perfect vehicle for scenery gazing.
Stop at one of the many gravel bars and try your hand at tracking. Guaranteed it won't take long for you to spot prints left by moose or wolves. In fact, it's not uncommon to fall asleep to the sound of howling wolves in the distance - a haunting yet comforting soundtrack to sleep.
Canoe: Yukon River
Government of Yukon | Gerhard Pfaff
Perfect for history buffs, paddling along the Yukon River is a cultural revelation. Up until the 1940s, when roads were finally introduced in this region, the Yukon River was the main travel route for First Nations people, early settlers and Klondike gold rush seekers. As you paddle along North America's third longest river, you'll see historical relics left by these first inhabitants, long gone but not forgotten.
This is a great option for beginners. The flat but swift waters here make it an easy outing and a wonderful opportunity to practice canoe paddling techniques against an idyllic backdrop of gentle mountains and sandy cliffs. Equally appealing is the Yukon River's accessibility. Paddlers can choose their adventure with half-day, full-day or multi-day trips.
Experience the midnight sun
Government of Yukon | R. Postma
Waking up in the middle of the night to sunlight, you might feel as if you've entered the Twilight Zone. That's because the Yukon is literally the land of the midnight sun - at least for a couple of weeks every summer.
Try to ignore everything your internal clock is telling you as you take in some late-night rays. Depending where you are, the sun might dip below the horizon for a short time. As it lurks just out of sight, it will throw soft light, reminiscent of pre-dawn. If you're far enough north, the sun will fall from the sky in a soft arc and just before it touches the horizon, it will creep skyward once again.
Experiencing the novelty of a sun-lit midnight sky is as much a reason to visit the Yukon as the territory's outdoor activities or natural beauty. The phenomenon makes for an otherworldly sensation you'll never shed.
Government of Yukon | Hans G Pfaff
Educational holidays combine the best of both worlds: exploring a new region combined with an element of learning. In the Yukon, photography and hiking go hand-in-hand. Let a local photographer lead you on a hike through some of the Yukon's stunning landscapes while giving you instruction on how to best capture these vistas on your camera.
The best part is that everybody in your group will be like-minded. No worries here about holding up your group, otherwise anxious to move on. Hike with other photographers and you'll all be in sync, looking for nuances in light and breezes, exchanging tips and support. Then come home to a memory card full of exceptional photos and a whole new set of skills to take with you on your next excursion.
Sky High Wilderness Ranch
Embrace the pioneering spirit of the Yukon and take to horseback on a multi-day horsepacking trip. Roam back-country trails, winding through valleys and creeks until you reach your night's destination. Then settle in for dinner, perhaps fireside under the stars or something more gourmet prepared by your guide-navigator-chef extraordinaire.
From beginners to more advanced riders, there's a horse for everyone and a route to impress all. Connecting with a region so untainted and bucolic is made all the more inspiring when done on horseback. Just as the first settlers explored this expansive, open land with a sense of adventure and wonder, so can you.
Lodges: the comfortable outdoors
Frances Lake Wilderness Lodge
Want the great, wild outdoors...but also fresh morning croissants and French-pressed coffee? The lodges of the Yukon provide comfortable accommodations that buff the edges of raw wilderness into rustic-luxe. Picture timber-frame construction, mounted antlers and cozy armchairs.
The beauty of a lodge is that you are the master of your day. Get social with fellow guests in the common spaces or retreat undisturbed with a book. Take a self-guided hike or let your host lead you on an interpretive forest walk. Sleep through breakfast or rise early to catch a hearty meal in the main lodge. The nature that surrounds you might be exposed to the elements, but lodge life is saunas and crackling fireplaces.
Digital detox in a rustic cabin
Striking a balance between tent walls and luxury lodging, the charms of the Yukon are found in its rustic cabins. After all, this is trapper territory, so why not? (When in Rome!)
For outdoor enthusiasts, your cabin can be a home base from which you do day hikes or go paddling. For those who prefer the raw wilderness through a picture window, this is an ideal opportunity for a digital detox. Without the expectations that come with a schedule, your leisure time can be as ambitious as fishing for dinner, or as relaxed as waiting for a moose to cross your view. Bring the kids, bring the cousins or just bring yourself.
Have you been to the Yukon in summer?
Where did you go and what would you recommend?
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