Whitehorse features many reasons to get your ass north of nightfall. Here are ten of the most interesting
World’s Largest Weathervane
75 Barkley Grow Crescent, Whitehorse, YT
Those who fly into Whitehorse airport—named after longtime Yukon Minister of Parliament Erik Nielsen—will see an old Canadian Pacific Air Lines Douglas DC-3 swining on a giant on a pedestal in the wind. Claimed to be the world’s largest weathervane, this classic aircraft revolutionized the airline industry way back in the 30s and 40s. Today, this chrome beauty continues to remind us which way the wind blows, and looks mighty beautiful during the process. While you’re there, be sure to check out the
MacBride Museum of Yukon History
1124 Front St, Whitehorse, YT
Someone people just ain’t museum people. Their loss when it comes to the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse. This place is unbelievable, and an absolute must-visit destination. From the striking architecture—which looks unlike any other building in the Yukon—to the perfectly recreated miner’s cabins, to a taxidermy wildlife display that must be one of the world’s most complete, this museum features everything from art to culture to natural history. A large war-time exhibit about the construction of the Alaska Highway will remind you how soft you are. The photography exhibit gives a comprehensive glimpse of Yukon life through the eras. Most importantly, the rich, deep history of the Yukon is represented with real-life artifacts that bring you back. We repeat: Do Not Miss.
Yukon Wildlife Preserve
Takhini Hotspring, Whitehorse, YT
Don’t call it a zoo. This is the real deal. Way back in the day, Yukoner Danny Nowlan began taking in injured animals at the Yukon Game Farm. Fast forward 50 years, and the iconic Yukon Wildlife Preserve—name changed in 2012—is the spot to responsibly view bison, moose, deer, elk, birds of prey, arctic fox and more. They even keep a full-time vet on staff to make sure the animals are well cared for in the preserve’s Wildlife Research and Rehabilitation Centre. Take a guided tour or walk it yourself. Located only 30 minutes out of Whitehorse.
Located right next to Whitehorse, the wild, whitewater Miles Canyon was once referred to as Grand Canyon. In 1883, U.S. Army lieutenant Fredrick Schwatka noticed the name duplication of Arizona’s famous landmark during a 2092-kilometre float trip along the Yukon River. He renamed it after another American army dude, General Nelson Miles. During the Gold Rush, this was a graveyard for poorly-loaded boats and a few poor souls headed for the gold fields. Eventually the Northwest Mounted Police arrived and ensured only properly-piloted and -packed vessels would make the journey through this crazy canyon. The Robert Lowe suspension bridge allows pedestrians to cross the river in a much easier manner, and many of the mountain bike trails end up along the river.
Yukon Beringia Intrepretive Centre
Kilometre 1423 (Mile 886) Alaska Hwy, Box 2703, Whitehorse, Yukon
What’s better than dinosaurs? How about giant six-foot-long beavers and Yukon lions that were way bigger than any African lion? Yes, lions, dude. Get ready to re-jig everything you know about animals in the north at the Beringia Centre. This place will blow your mind without having to resort to the pageantry of those spotlight-hogging dinosaurs. Focusing on the land bridge between Asia and North America, the Beringia Centre celebrates the land and animals of the Mammoth Steppe. You never knew how little you know until you visit the Yukon Beringia Intrepretive Centre.
Takhini Hot Springs
10 KM/ Mile 6 Takhini Hotsprings Rd, Whitehorse, YT
Located only 25 minutes from Whitehorse, the Takhini Hot Springs pump out 385 litres of natural mineral waters a minute. And, unlike other springs, the water doesn’t stink like rotten eggs here. Two pools and a rough temperature of 37°C keeps everyone warm while chillin’ up north. One of the most interesting aspects of this locals’ favourite watering hole is The International Hair Freezing Contest, a frankly bizarre-but-fun event run every February. It’s self-explanatory but we will explain it anyway: people freeze their hair in the frigid winter air and shape it into weird styles. Weirdest style wins. Yeah, we know. Yukoners are weird.
Carcross Tagish First Nation Cultural Centre
Klondike Highway, Carcross, YT
Not technically in Whitehorse, but who’s keeping score? Carcross is a rad little community not far south of the capital. On all four corners of this expansive valley town, mountains rise dramatically and rivers come together. It’s a town unlike many, and along the lakeside sits a Cultural Centre that is worth a visit, if only for the architecture, but also for what is inside: all the treasures and artwork of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation people. In 2017, seven new totem poles were gifted to the building, and provide beautiful decorative elements to an already stunning building.
Main Street Whitehorse
Main Street, Whitehorse…duh.
It’s hard to imagine how lively the north would have been during the Gold Rush, but Whitehorse’s fun-and-funky Main Street on a summer Saturday might measure up. Great restaurants (like these), rad bars, and some of the coolest shops north of British Columbia all line this short street that is long on culture. Start on the shores of the Yukon River and head up the street with hours to spare. You’ll need them.
Fireweed Community Market (summer only)
Shipyards Park, 100 Ogilvie St, Whitehorse, YT
Every Thursday during the summer, the real community of Whitehorse can be seen gathering in the market at Shipyards Park. Fresh produce, locally-made goods, and friendly faces are all in attendance. It’s the kind of event where you can wander freely without money or plans and still have a great time.
Beer, Beer, Beer
Multiple Locale Breweries
Can we quit messing around and just drink some good beer, damnit? Whitehorse is currently enjoying a craft brew renaissance. Back in the day, Yukon Brewing created Yukon Gold—a refreshing draft beer that can be found at every single establishment in the territory. Since then, they’ve come up with many inventive brews. More recently, Marko and Meghan Marjanovic founded Winterlong Brewing Co., a proper craft brewery with a tasting room full of truly great beer and locally-sourced snacks. A third, small brewery called Deep Dark Wood Brewing is located close to Winterlong Brewing Co. They use an oak barrel and a bunch of different yeasts and cultures to create unique beers. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they make real small-batch craft beauties.