10 great reasons to visit Yukon in winter

written by Kieran Meeke

updated 16.12.2021

Head to Yukon in winter? It's uncharted Canada. A wilderness packed with wildlife where you can go skiing, try dog sledding, ice fishing and more. Check out the 10 best winter activities in Yukon. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Canada your essential guide for visiting Canada.

1. Skiing in the Yukon in winter

The Yukon is cross-country territory. Head to Whitehorse for backcountry cross-country skiing on Mount McIntyre's 85km of groomed trails. Ski alongside moose and caribou or try Mount Sima for downhill. Hidden Valley B&B in Whitehorse is a great base for ski breaks.

2. Snowshoeing around Whitehorse

Swap skis for snowshoes in the Yukon and reach places skiers can't. Modern equipment means it's easy to get the hang of snowshoeing. And you can try gentle or strenuous hikes depending on your mood and fitness levels.

Snowshoeing in Yukon is a real close to nature activity and great for spotting wildlife in winter. If you're going it alone, try the Fish Lake Hoop in Whitehorse. Alternatively take advantage of local knowledge on a guided snowshoeing tour in Whitehorse.


The aurora borealis regularly spotted in Yukon in winter © Oxana Gracheva/Shutterstock

3. Northern Lights in the Yukon

The Yukon is one of the world's top Northern Lights' hotspots. And if you visit Kluane National Park in late autumn and winter, early nightfall means you don't even have to stay up late for sightings.

Midnight is the prime time for Northern Lights' activity here and experts say moonlight is by far the best for photographs. To improve your chances of seeing the phenomena, think about booking a Northern Lights tour with local guides.

4. Flightseeing Tours around Chilkoot Pass

Flightseeing in northern Canada is amazingly affordable. Small planes are treated like taxis here and often used as an alternative to long drives. So that means an abundance of readily available planes and pilots.

It's a great way to see hidden lakes, glaciers and peaks. In winter you've also the chance of witnessing migrating caribou herds or viewing isolated and eerie Gold Rush ghost towns like Bennett BC.

Try a Chilkoot Pass flightseeing tour from Whitehorse to see the stunning, snow-bound pass through the Coast Mountains. And if you're planning some Yukon flightseeing, Edgewater Hotel in Whitewater city centre is an ideal base.


Ice Fishing Cabin on a Frozen Lake in the Yukon, Canada © Daniel Toh/Shutterstock

5. Ice fishing in Kluane National Park

Try ice fishing in the Yukon at Kluane National Park. The best time is from midwinter to spring when lake ice is up to a metre thick. If you want trout, Kathleen Lake is one of Kluane's most renowned spots to fish for them.

Snowmobiles are used to reach prime ice fishing spots. Once you're in place it's a matter of drilling holes through the ice to the freezing water below. Then simply bait your hook, drop the line and patiently wait for something to bite.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday. Click 'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Canada expert.

6. Dogsledding in the Yukon Territory

Yukon Territory is home to the world's best mushers and Whitehorse is its dog sledding capital. It's also the start and finish of Yukon Quest in February. So if you want the exhilarating rush of guiding dog sleds at speeds of up to 20kmph, learn to mush with experts at the dog-sledding camp in Whitehorse.


Dog Sledding in the Yukon in winter © Escajadillo/Shutterstock

7. Caribou spotting in northern Yukon

Witness migrating caribou in northern Yukon in winter when 10s of 1000s of Porcupine Caribou migrate along the 740km Dempster Highway from Dawson City.

These vast herds journey north in spring and then south later in the year. But winter is best for sightings, plus it's a good time to see lynx and wolves on the Dempster Highway. If you want to wildlife watch, stay at Canada's Best Value Inn in Dawson City.


Wild Caribou in the Yukon, Canada © Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock

8. Bar hopping in Dawson City and Whitehorse

Find friendly bars in northern Canada and wait out bad weather in cosy comfort. Don't miss Sourtoe Saloon in Dawson City. It's a friendly bar and also home to the gruesome, yet legendary, Sourtoe Cocktail.

Try Woodcutter's Blanket in Whitehorse. Then make your way to the Tavern and Lounge in Dawson City. This is the place to mix Yukon Brewing beer with live local music on long cold evenings. And when it's time to call it a night, stay at Dawson Lodge.

9. Fat biking in Whitehorse

Go fat biking in Whitehorse, it's the Yukon hub for this thrilling winter sport and has some of the best, and best groomed, trails.

If you haven't tried fat biking, it's like MTB only on snow. But fat-tired bikes give a smoother ride, and snow cushions bumps and falls. If you want to fat bike in Whitehorse, stay at The Yukon Inn and take on the Millennium Trail.


A fat biker tackling snow covered trails in the Yukon © GROGL/Shutterstock

10. First Nations Culture in the Yukon

Explore First Nations Culture in Whitehorse with a visit to the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. Set on the banks of the Chu Nínkwän (Yukon River), this purpose built space celebrates the heritage of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

To learn more about all 14 Yukon First Nations, head to Whispering Trees Adventures. Here, First Nations guides teach guests traditional skills such as ice fishing, dog sledding, animal tracking and trapping.

Ready to travel to Canada? Find out about the best places to see and things to do in Canada. For inspiration use the Canada itineraries from The Rough Guide to Canada and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

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Kieran Meeke

written by Kieran Meeke

updated 16.12.2021

Kieran has lived in 12 countries – including Yemen and Mozambique – and written about countless others, specialising in long-form features that get beneath the surface. This love of exploring the quirky and hidden in every destination saw him run the Secret London website for 15 years, but more recently has taken him on long distance walking and horse-riding adventures. Follow him on Instagram @kieran_meeke.

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