9 Days North: A Yukon Roadtrip

12 January 2017

In the Yukon, vistas straight from an Imax theatre come rushing in through your wind-screen. Against a backdrop of otherworldly tundra, extreme mountains and boreal forest, up-close encounters with bears and moose are very likely. But the Yukon is no backwater wilderness; you can look forward to atmospheric accommodation and great food whilst lapping up intoxicatingly wild scenery. 

Day 1 Whitehorse

Yukon’s laid back, compact capital is home to excellent eateries, museums and frequent summer concerts.  Banish jetlag by taking a walk along a heritage – rich riverside trail that links up with longer hikes. Adrenaline rushes such as kayaking, horse-riding and dog-sledding are also close to town.

As soon as you leave the city, the wilderness is engulfing. The sound of bubbling water in rivers like this one are deafening, demanding your attention. (Image: Melissa Rimac)

Day 2 Whitehorse to Dawson City

Set off early for this 525 km drive so you’ll have time for scenic stops such as Five Finger Rapids and the detour to the ghostly remnants of silver mining at Keno City.

Day 3  Explore Dawson City

Looking much as it would have in the late 1800’s, Dawson’s gold-fever history comes to life as you stroll the timber boardwalks past former dancehalls, saloons, banks, brothels and opera houses. Drop into the Downtown Hotel dining room and the bar of the Westmark Inn and check out evocative photos of the golden days.

Nicknamed the 'Drunken Buildings', these are a highlight of exploring the remote city of Dawson. (Image: Melissa Rimac)

Day 4 Tombstone National Monument And The Dempster Highway

A palpably glacier –forged showcase of boreal, alpine and arctic ecosystems, Tombstone Territorial Park is about an hours’ drive from the comforts of Dawson City. As you continue north through fragrant spruce forests along the Dempster Highway, the scene-scape becomes increasingly grandiose. After driving for 370 kilometres along the well maintained gravel road, stop for the night at the cinematically-set Eagle Plains Hotel.

Day 5 Drive To The Arctic Circle!

Today the Dempster flattens to mossy carpets encrusted with lichens, melting permafrost induced ‘drunken forests’, and unfurled tundra that fragments into the vast Mackenzie Delta. After 376 km of driving, you’ll reach the frontier town of Inuvik and the comfortable Nova Hotel. 

Wildlife in the Yukon is abundant, this bear seen from the road near Dempster. (Image: Melissa Rimac)

Day 6 Inuvik To Dawson City

The Dempster is even more mesmerizing on the return journey. It’s a big day – with 746 kilometres of driving – so take advantage of the many and mesmerizing photo- stops beside gushing rivers and colourful mountains.

Day 7 Top Of The World Highway

Driving the 301 kilometres from Dawson City to Tok in Alaska along the giddy Top of the World Highway, the views are both lonesome and lofty. Stop at the friendly Alaskan town called Chicken for a feed and check out the massive gold dredging remnants. 

Day 8  Kluane National Park

Driving beside Kluane National Park- home to the world’s largest non- polar icefields - a chocolate box arrangement of wildflowers, pine forests and jagged snow- capped peaks presents itself: perfect for a picnic or impromptu walk. Having driven 467 kilometres from Tok, you’ll rest well at Haines Junction

Driving through the alpine scenery near Kluane Lake meaning stopping frequently for to admire scenery like this. (Image: Melissa Rimac)

Day 8 Explore Kluane

Morning is the best time to take a ‘flight-seeing’ tour – some of which offer the opportunity to walk on glaciers- departing from Haines Junction or lakeside Burwash Landing (this airstrip is closest to the icefields). A range of walks from Haines Junction - from a few hours duration to day trips - delve into eye bulging alpine vistas.

Day 9 Return Whitehorse

From Haines Junction it’s an easy 154 kilometre drive back to Whitehorse. Or, if time allows, consider extending your trip with the super – scenic Golden Circle route to the historic port of Skagway in Alaska. 


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Melissa Rimac

Melissa Rimac is a travel writer and photographer. You can follow her adventures on instagram at @snorkellingqueen and online at snorkellingqueen.com