Many American RVers have Alaska on their bucket list and for them, Canada’s Yukon is just a pit stop along the way.
But for me, The Yukon (as the locals still call it) was a mysterious wilderness that called to me and in the summer of 2018, she was my destination. With a tiny population and far fewer tourists than Alaska, Yukon still feels untouched and is an RVers paradise!
Camping in Yukon
Camping in Yukon is easy thanks to the Yukon Government Campgrounds. In contrast to expensive, and often crowded, state and provincial parks across North America, these rustic territorial campgrounds offer affordable, dry, RV camping at scenic locations throughout Yukon. No need to reserve ahead: sites are available on a first come, first served basis and payment is by cash to the iron ranger. They even include free firewood with your stay.
Yukon’s capital city is Whitehorse, so named for the rushing rapids of the Whitehorse River which claimed more than a few lives of desperate prospectors during the heady days of the 1896 Klondike gold rush.
Yukon Territory’s entire population is around 40,000 people, with three quarters of them living in the capital. Whitehorse is RV friendly and the city makes tourists feel welcome! The Yukon Visitor Information Centre in downtown Whitehorse has designated pull-through RV spots with free all day parking, while multiple RV parks around the city offer a variety of camping options. We were allowed to park our RV free overnight in the gravel lot beside the library at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, right on the Yukon River. Alternately, just a 10 minute drive from the Visitor Centre, Long Lake Overlook offers quiet, scenic, free boondocking in a large roadside gravel lot surrounded by forest.
Things to do in Yukon
Whitehorse offers residents many benefits that smart visitors can also enjoy. If possible, plan to arrive in time to partake in the July 1st Canada Day celebrations at Shipyards Park. This free community event features an outdoor stage filled with colourful performances by local groups, while food vendors keep everyone well fed. Open year round, the Canada Games Centre is a huge recreation complex with an aquatic centre, ice rink, indoor sports arena and workout gym, open to all with very reasonable rates.
I love a good museum and Whitehorse had me covered! The Yukon Transportation Museum brought out the kid in me with its planes, trains and automobiles. I also enjoyed tinkering on their piano, freely available for visitors to play, after enjoying tunes from a local performer. However my favourite museum by far was the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre with towering skeletons of extinct woolly mammoths and giant sloths. Beringia tells the incredible true story of human migration into the Americas from Asia over 12,000 years ago on the massive Beringia land bridge, a vast grassy plain connecting Russia and Alaska when sea levels were much lower during the last ice age.
Visiting Dawson City
The Yukon River runs right through downtown Whitehorse, flowing north toward the quirky, wild-west town of Dawson City. Diehard paddlers can partake in the Yukon River Quest, a 444 mile marathon paddling race down the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City, held each year in early June.
However you get there, Dawson City is an absolute must for your Yukon adventure. Dawson City still looks and feels like a gold rush town of old, with dirt streets that turn to mud in the rain, and historic buildings on cribs so they can be leveled out as needed against the melting permafrost. Yet the town is bursting with youthful energy from the flamboyant folks who flock there each summer to work in Dawson’s bustling tourism industry.
Parks Canada manages the Klondike National Historic Sites, offering guided walking tours with entry to historic buildings led by costumed interpreters and interactive theatre programs. For a more mature audience, the ever popular Diamond Tooth Gerties offers a fun and friendly atmosphere that combines a bar and licensed gambling hall, with energetic cancan-inspired performances. Talented dancers take the stage in a series of three song-and-dance shows that become increasingly risqué as the night progresses.
Driving northwest from Dawson City, the Top of the World Highway is a high-elevation road with incredible views in all directions. There are multiple roadside pullouts where you can overnight in your RV to extend your time on this incredible scenic roadway before reaching the Alaska border. To continue your Yukon adventure, loop through Chicken to pick up the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction and head south back into Yukon. The Alaska Highway runs parallel to Kluane Lake, a huge, gorgeous lake with campgrounds and free boondocking sites available.
Within Kluane National Park, part of an International UNESCO World Heritage Site, the popular Kathleen Lake Campground offers educational nature talks by Parks Canada staff. Kluane NP is unusual in that it allows RVers to boondock for free within the park boundary in dispersed camping locations.
Yukon has even more to offer including the historic towns of Carcross and Keno, events such as music and beer festivals, and much more! Put Yukon on your bucket list and plan your Yukon adventure today at www.travelyukon.com.
Margot Bai has traveled the 4 corners of North America in her 17’ Taylor Coach travel trailer, from Maine to the Florida Keys, and Baja California Sur to Canada’s Yukon Territory. Follow her adventures on Instagram @margotbai
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