Landsby Visits The Yukon
If you’re anything like me, when you think of the Yukon, you think about the incredible skies and the Aurora, the Northern Lights!
Well after our visit last week, I can tell you that seeing the lights is icing on the cake when visiting the Yukon. This northern Canadian territory has so much to offer beyond the Aurora.
Read on for my recount of our Yukon experiences and reach out to us if you want help planning your own adventure.
Getting to the Yukon
Aubrey, our Product Director, and I met at the Air North gate at the Vancouver airport (after my morning flight from Toronto) for our 2.5-hour flight to Whitehorse. The views as we lifted out of Vancouver were spectacular.
At the airport in Whitehorse, we picked up a car from Budget and set out on a short but scenic 20-minute drive to our first accommodation of the trip.
TIP: Most stays in the Yukon will offer a shuttle from the airport to the accommodation. If you would like to stay in multiple places and travel around the territory, a car rental is a must. Due to the shortage of car rental availability across North America, we highly recommend you book early.
Exploring the Best of the Yukon
We pulled into our first lodge stay and were greeted by owners Tobias and Lynn. Their lodge offers three Aurora glass chalets and three Alpine log chalets — all facing north. There is a sauna facility, gym, wonderful food and all the activities you can dream up for the winter season — dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing and more.
Due to our late arrival, we only had time for an incredible dinner in the main lodge with the eight other guests before we were ready for our first evening of Northern Lights viewing. The beauty of the lodge is that you simply walk out of your chalet and there you are — looking north and waiting for the Aurora while warming up by a bonfire and enjoying some tasty smores. If it is a clear evening, you can easily spot Orion, the Big Dipper and other constellations.
After a late evening with a hint of the Lights, we started making our way east to Marsh Lake where we met Carson and Khaliya at their wonderful lodge on the lake. Carson has been operating the stay for 27 years and the authentic rooms and cabins on the water are spectacular. We weren’t staying for the night this time — just stopping in for lunch — but it is definitely a property I’d like to visit again.
We walked in and immediately knew the food was going to be spectacular. The place smelled heavenly! You can see by our lunch of pork tenderloin with beets and mash that food is a big focus at this lodge.
After lunch, Aubrey and I headed south to Carcross and what a drive it was! Passing Mount Lorne and the Seven Sisters mountain range, we pulled into the community of Carcross. Once called Caribou Crossing, this region is home to a large, annual woodland caribou migration.
On a winter Monday, there isn’t much going on in Carcross, but we loved seeing the colourful buildings, railways and surrounding landscape. As the weather warms up, the community is known for its culinary offerings, mountain biking, hiking and sandy beaches.
Our stay that night was at an incredible lakefront resort overlooking Base Mountain, run by our hosts Oliver and Bruno. With eight cabins to choose from and an amazing restaurant on the property, this stay was one of our highlights.
Tip: If you zoom into the photo above, you’ll see we are creating an all-Canadian Landsby playlist, coming to Spotify soon…
With the spectacular views we had from our cabin, we were hoping for the Northern Lights to pay a visit that night. The beauty of this kind of property (like the other places we visited) is that we could walk right out of our cabin and enjoy a self-serve Aurora experience. Just walk down to the lake and enjoy!
Our faint Aurora experience happened at 7:30 am (the sun didn’t rise until 9:30). We could see very faint green flairs dancing in the sky. A beautiful view but not (yet) what everyone talks about. For that, we’d have to wait another day.
After a hearty breakfast, we could hear the huskies approaching for our dog sledding adventure. With a wonderful guide, we travelled by dog sled across the lake, into the forest and stopped for lunch over a fire. What an experience! Aubrey and I took turns standing versus being pulled by the sled and we enjoyed both experiences. The huskies are incredibly social and gentle dogs — powerful and lean. This is a must-do experience when visiting the Yukon in the winter.
After our four hours with the huskies, we drove to Whitehorse (about two hours) for a glassblowing session at the fantastic Lumel Studios. The team here is incredible and offers a range of workshops as well as daily demonstrations. We tried our hand at glassblowing, which, for those who don’t know, is a glass-forming technique that involves using a long tube to blow air into molten glass and shape it. If you are in Whitehorse, this incredible experience should be on your must-do list.
TIP: If you are a glassblowing newbie, making a flower is far more difficult than making a bird. Trust me.
There are two properties you want to stay in when visiting Whitehorse: the new Raven Inn or the Edgewater. Both are within walking distance of most things, including the Wayfarer Oyster House, voted Top 10 new restaurant in Canada in 2019.
After our oyster dinner, we joined a well-organized small group tour to once again look for the Northern Lights. The viewing is about 25 minutes outside the city and you are well taken care of in cabins serving warm drinks and snacks, a bonfire outside and a brilliant viewing platform facing north. We were all set for the lights to arrive — unfortunately for us, the third time wasn’t a charm.
TIP: Viewing the Aurora with a group is a very different experience than viewing the lights from a lodge or cabin on your own. Whether the skies cooperate or not, you will most likely still be out until about 2 am with the group. When you are staying at a lodge or cabin, your room is steps away and you choose your outside time.
After a delicious breakfast at the Raven Inn, we got on the road for Haines Junction and Kluane National Park. En route, a stop has to be made at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Spread over 700 acres of land, you will see much of the wildlife the Yukon and Canada are famous for, including moose, ram, caribou, deer, elk, lynx, muskox and fox.
Kluane National Park
Two hours across the Alaska Highway brought us to our lodge overlooking Kluane National Park. The skies were cloudy but as we turned a corner on the highway, we could feel the presence of the mountains.
Roxanne and her team were incredible hosts. Her property is unique and authentic, with multiple options for accommodations, including a yurt, hut, bus and three suites. The food made on-site is delicious and the activities plentiful.
After checking in, we hopped onto our snowmobiles with our guide Dave and headed into the mountains. Spectacular and exhilarating doesn’t do it justice!
Our day in Haines Junction was capped off with a very special, homemade salmon dinner by John at the lodge and, although our hopes were high for an Aurora sighting that evening, there was no knock at our door to wake us up.
So after four incredible days in the Yukon, we left the lodge early for my return journey to Toronto and Aubrey’s flight to Dawson City, which sits about 530 km northwest of Whitehorse. With plenty of coffee, we were on the Alaska Highway around 8:30 am. The skies were still dark when we set off and then this happened:
The sky that everyone talks about and many dream about seeing came to pay us a visit in the early morning, on the side of the Alaska Highway. Incredible and truly awe-inspiring. The only thing we wished was that we took the photography crash course that our previous lodge offered.
While my incredible Yukon experience came to an end, Aubrey continued on to Dawson City with Air North. Read here about his experiences.