Yukon Territory



Poet Robert Service once referred to Canada's Yukon Territory as "that raw-ribbed wild that abhors all life." The Yukon is a tamer place than it was in Service's lifetime—the lawlessness of the gold-rush days has faded, and a few refined towns now dot the map. But no one would dispute that this Canadian territory contains some of the most majestic wilderness on the North American continent.

This is a raw, isolated land—many places remain literally untouched. Clear blue lakes, mountains, glaciers and silence stretch for miles/kilometers, and both the caribou and the bears outnumber the people. During winter, the green, red and blue northern lights flicker overhead.

Most visitors just pass through this territory as they go from British Columbia to Alaska (or from Alaska's panhandle to the interior of the state). This is unfortunate, because they miss a chance to see great scenery and to relive the rugged life of the gold rush—either in relatively comfortable and fascinating tours of the region or in high-adventure outings that will challenge even the most experienced outdoor enthusiast. Besides scenic hiking and driving, the territory offers white-water rafting, dogsledding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, canoeing and mountaineering.

Most visitors miss something else, too—the territory's rich First Nations (aboriginal) traditions. Approximately one-fifth of the Yukon's population is First Nations, and the majority of these people belong to one of the Athabascan or Tlingit language families: Gwitchin, Han, Northern Tutchone, Southern Tutchone, Kaska, Tagish, Upper Tanana and Tlingit. Historically they hunted caribou, moose and sheep, but they used any animal resource available (lynx, snow hares, salmon, beavers). Many Yukon First Nations people continue to practice subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping today.

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