The Yukon's capital and biggest town, Whitehorse was an important transportation hub when it was the terminus of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad to Skagway, Alaska, and the transshipment point for freight going down the Yukon River. (You can still ride on a portion of this railway as it chugs over the breathtaking White Pass and past blue glaciers—a bus provides transportation to the rail line from Whitehorse.)
Several attractions in Whitehorse shouldn't be missed. The MacBride Museum of Yukon History has displays on First Nations culture, an exhibit about wildlife, a firearms collection and a gallery of wonderful old photos (plan on spending several hours at the museum). The Yukon Transportation Museum has exhibits of boats, snowshoes, dogsleds and a full-size replica of the first commercial aircraft in the territory.
The Old Log Church Museum is housed in a circa-1900 Anglican parish. This museum illustrates the role the Anglican missionaries played during fur-trapping and gold-mining days. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre has an excellent ice-age exhibit—some of the artifacts were unearthed by miners searching for gold, including a startlingly well-preserved 26,000-year-old horse.
The Yukon Historical Museums Association offers an interesting walking tour of Whitehorse, but if the weather is too chilly for strolling, visit the Yukon Government Building, which tells the story of the territory in stained-glass windows and wall hangings.
Yukon Gardens is a beautiful display of territorial trees, flowers and other plants. At night, take in the Frantic Follies, an 1890s vaudeville revue with comedy skits and dancing girls (definitely the best show in town).
Should time permit, consider a Yukon River tour aboard the MV Schwatka. If you'd rather experience 19th-century nautical nostalgia on land, visit the SS Klondike—the restored stern-wheeler is now a dry-docked museum. Other day-trip destinations include Takhini Hot Springs, 17 mi/27 km away, where you can soak in the natural heat of a spring-fed mineral bath, and Miles Canyon. Nearby, the Whitehorse Rapids dam has the longest wooden fish ladder in the world (late July-early August is the best time to see salmon migrating up the fish ladder).
There are a number of unusual annual events in the Whitehorse vicinity. The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous (February) includes dogsled races, local arts and crafts, sourdough-pancake breakfasts, cancan girls, talent shows and leg wrestling, plus a beard-growing contest (for men) and a hairy-leg contest (for women).
The three-day Frostbite Music Festival (February) hosts musicians from across Canada. The Annual Yukon Quest (February) is a 1,000-mi/1,600-km dogsled race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska. The direction alternates every year, and spectators can view the action at Dawson (the only mandatory 36-hour layover point of the race), Carmacks or Whitehorse.
Other events in the area include the Yukon International Storytelling Festival (storytellers from around Canada and the world—August), and a number of sporting events, including the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Event (June) and the Yukon River Trail Marathon (August).
In late June-early July, the Yukon River Quest Canoe and Kayak race starts on Whitehorse's Main Street and finishes in Dawson City. Then there's the Klondike Trail of '98 International Road Relay (a 10-stage running race that starts in Skagway, Alaska, and finishes in Whitehorse—September).
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