Tourist Guide to Whitehorse, Canada

Updated on Apr 30, 2024 | Canada Visa Online

Whitehorse, which is home to 25,000 people, or more than half of Yukon's entire population, has developed recently into a significant hub for the arts and culture. With this list of the top tourist attractions in Whitehorse, you can discover the greatest things to do in this small but intriguing city.

Whitehorse, like Dawson City, was established because of the 1897-starting Klondike Gold Rush. Gold prospectors had to negotiate the perilous and oftentimes hazardous road from Skagway via White Pass, Miles Canyon, and Whitehorse rapids before descending the Yukon River to Dawson's riches.

The early inhabitants established a small settlement on the right bank of the river, across from the modern-day town. The town was given its name, Whitehorse, by the boiling, foaming waves of the rapids. Although the rapid-causing rocks are still there, they are now blissfully submerged beneath the waters of Schwatka Lake, which was made possible by the 1958 damming of the river.

Whitehorse, which is home to 25,000 people, or more than half of Yukon's entire population, has developed recently into a significant hub for the arts and culture. At the junction of the Alaska and Klondike Highways and only approximately 80 kilometres north of the provincial border with British Columbia, the modest but bustling territorial capital serves as a centre of the north. 

With this list of the top tourist attractions in Whitehorse, you can discover the greatest things to do in this small but intriguing city!

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The Location of Whitehorse

A 2.5-hour flight from Vancouver gets you to Whitehorse. It takes 28 hours and 1,500 miles to get there from Van City on the road. In fact, Anchorage, Alaska, is only 700 miles away and a 13.5-hour trip west, making it closer to Anchorage.

Whitehorse is regarded as both Alaska's and the Yukon's "gateway." Here, the Alaska Highway was constructed in 1942 as a defensive measure during World War II, although it was never used. Additionally, it functioned as a rest stop for prospectors travelling to the adjacent Dawson City, which is best known for the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. The city quickly advanced as a result, and it also expanded quickly.

The Yukon's capital city, Whitehorse, is only 15 minutes away from the wilderness. You really don't need to spend a lot of money to enjoy the Yukon animals once you're in Whitehorse.

Exploring Whitehorse's downtown

Stretch your legs first on the walk that circles Shipyard Park, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, Rotary Park, and the SS Klondike National Historic Site along the Yukon River.

Check out the many excellent stores in downtown Whitehorse, including one of my favourite bookstores, Mac's Fireweed, once you've had your fill of strolling along the river. In addition to being a fantastic bookshop, Mac's Fireweed includes a sizable section of books specifically about the Yukon as well as an excellent collection of maps of every kind. Any book lover or traveller looking for travel inspiration should definitely check it out.

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Dawson City and the North Klondike Highway

Dawson City is 350 miles (530 km) north of Whitehorse and offers a memorable historical and magnificent landscape Yukon road trip. It's a beautiful drive, largely along the Yukon River, which was also utilised for thousands of years by humanity before miners to travel to the Klondike Gold Fields. Dawson City is too far to travel for a day vacation, but it's worth it for all the interesting and unusual things to do there!

If you're eager for a genuinely epic distant trip, you may travel even further from here to the stunning Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster Highway, north of Dawson, or even all the way to the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktut.

Kluane National Park

Kluane National Park

Even if you aren't travelling to or from Alaska by car, the isolated and untamed Kluane National Park is a spectacular stop along the Alaska Highway and well worth the trek from Whitehorse! The enormous wildness of Kluane borders the equally expansive Wrangell-St Elias National Park in the United States. Mt. Logan, Canada's highest mountain, and the country's biggest ice field are both located in Kluane.

On the Alaska Highway, approximately 100 miles (150 km) west of Whitehorse is the Visitor Center where you should make a stop. Depending on how much time you have, you can learn about your options for visiting Kluane here.

I highly advise taking the 160 miles (260 km) west of Whitehorse beginning Kluane Lake section of the Alaska Highway. There are several places to pause for pictures and some for lakeside treks.

Consider going to Kathleen Lake if you're searching for something a little closer to Whitehorse or a potential day excursion! This gorgeous lake lies 110 miles (180 km) from Whitehorse and is ideal for canoeing or picnicking. There are also many hiking paths nearby for those who want to see the best views of the Yukon.

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SS Klondike National Historic Site

Sternwheelers on the Yukon River continued to be the most important mode of transportation in the region for many years after the gold rush.

The SS Klondike II was the largest and oldest sternwheeler in the entire fleet. Up until 1955, the SS Klondike II transported ore from the Mayo silver mines to Whitehorse for eventual passage by road. It was built in 1936 using the engines, boiler, and other parts of the original ship after it sank in 1937.

On the Yukon embankment in the town centre, the renovated and repaired stern wheeler serves as a well-liked tourist attraction today. There are guided tours available, but if you want to explore on your own, make sure to pick up a self-guided tour brochure.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 10 Robert Service Way

Miles Canyon

Miles Canyon was a perilous portion of the Yukon River before a hydroelectric dam tamed the rapids. Only after a section of railroad was constructed that ran past the rapids, which were a bottleneck for gold prospectors and where the river cut through a section of basalt rock, was the issue solved. While attempting to cross the turbulent waves, many supplies and lives were lost.

Due to the hiking paths and picturesque setting, the area is now a delight to explore. The 25-meter-long suspension bridge at the location, which was built in 1922 and offers stunning river views, is very enjoyable to visit. The best part is that this attraction is conveniently close to Yellowknife's central business district.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

To see some of the numerous incredible species that live in the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, which is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Whitehorse, take a guided tour. These include elk, moose, wood bison, mule deer, woodland caribou, and two varieties of thinhorn sheep (Dall's and Stone's sheep).

The preserve, which spans more than 350 acres, contains various ecosystems, from marshes to cliffs, which enable the animals to live-and be observed-in their native environs. The preserve is renowned for being a centre for the rehabilitation of wildlife.

The site's network of trails can be used by anyone interested in a magnificent five-kilometer hike as an alternative to the preserve's guided bus excursions. Since many of these same pathways are utilised for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing excursions, winter is a great time to visit.

Taking a family vacation? The preserve offers a variety of entertaining programming, such as nature classes and summer camps.

Address - Takhini Hot Springs Road, Whitehorse, Yukon, Kilometer 8 (Mile 5).

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Northern Lights

Northern Lights

If you can schedule your trip to coincide with the months of January through early April, you won't even have to leave Whitehorse to witness the mesmerising Aurora Borealis, often known as the Northern Lights. To gain the best view of this wonderful celestial spectacle, it is advised to try to leave the city lights behind you and travel in the direction of the hills.

In Whitehorse, taking part in a scheduled nighttime aurora watching is one of the greatest ways to accomplish this. This exciting four-hour journey starts with hotel pickup and is a part of a small-group guided tour experience. To enhance your viewing pleasure, it brings you to a remote viewing place in the forest that is far from artificial light. There are drinks and snacks available.

Whitehorse Fishladder & Hatchery

In the spring, once the ice has begun to break up, Chinook salmon swim swiftly upstream from the Pacific Ocean to their breeding locations in the Yukon River. Some even make the 3,000-kilometer journey to Whitehorse, covering it in about 60 days. Visitors can view this breathtaking spectacle thanks to the Whitehorse Fishladder and Hatchery, which was constructed so that these magnificent fish can bypass the Whitehorse Rapids hydropower project.

The site has the world's longest such structure, as well as observation platforms and an underwater window. It also contains an interpretation centre with a wealth of information about the fish and their voyage.

The Yukon's supplies of arctic char, rainbow trout, and Chinook salmon, among other fish species, are vitally dependent on the adjacent fish hatchery, which was established in 1984 and is just a short drive away. Then, Yellowknife restaurants offer a variety of salmon delicacies to fish connoisseurs.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, Nisutlin Drive

MacBride Museum of Yukon History

The MacBride Museum of Yukon History features a sizable collection of artefacts and images from the time of the gold rush in addition to exhibits about the Yukon First Nations. One of the interesting displays is a log home that belonged to Sam McGee, about whom Robert Service, the "Bard of the Yukon," wrote a well-known poem. In addition, there are a number of pieces of old machinery and an interesting exhibit on Yukon's flora.

It is particularly interesting to see the old Whitehorse telegraph office, which will always be a part of the more recent museum structure that was built over (and above) it. Be sure to look into getting tickets for the museum's well-known music festival if you are visiting during the summer. 

An enjoyable, family-friendly attraction in the MacBride's collection is the Waterfront Trolley. The headliner of the show is a 1925 trolley that has been completely repaired and is once again moving people about the Whitehorse waterfront almost a century after it was first constructed.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 1124 Front Street

Old Log Church Museum

One of the first Anglican churches constructed in Yukon in 1900, the Old Log Church Museum sheds light on the growth of Christianity in the area. The pioneer era and the role of religion during this time are highlighted by displays and artefacts, and guided tours are offered every day during the summer.

Two topics that are regularly covered by tours include the Anglican Church's history in Yukon and the contributions of women at this time.There are also kid-focused tours offered.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 303 Elliott Street

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Yukon Transportation Museum

Examples of early modes of transportation in the area are on display at the Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse, including snowshoes, dog sleds, stagecoaches, boats, aeroplanes, and vehicles used to build the Alaska Highway.

One of the attractions is the Queen of the Yukon, the Spirit of St. Louis' sister plane. Individual Yukon stories of ingenuity and independence are also remarkable. The museum offers wonderful 40-minute tours with advanced appointments, and there are also family-friendly activities. There is a gift shop there as well.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 30 Electra Crescent

Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre

The region of Beringia, which was known to have been home to enormous animals and wide-open plains, is thought to have served as the earliest human migration route into North America from Asia. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre uses fossils, First Nation artefacts, murals, and dioramas to portray the history, geography, and culture of the region.

Free 30-minute guided tours that provide an overview of the facility, its collections, and research are offered and highly recommended; anyone looking for a longer, more in-depth tour can also be accommodated.

Address - Alaska Highway at Kilometer 1423 (Mile 886), Whitehorse, Yukon

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding is a winter sport, but two Whitehorse businesses provide summer tours where you may meet sled dogs! You can take a few sled dogs on a hike or canoe trip, or you can even take an ATV tour during a training run. In either case, you may go see the sled dogs and discover more about the northern sport and canine team heritage. Speak with Muktuk Adventures or Into the Wild Adventures.

A guided dog sledding tour will give you the full experience if you happen to be visiting in the winter.

Atlin Lake

Atlin is a stunning and enormous lake, the largest natural lake in British Columbia! Surrounded by mountains and with excellent fishing, Atlin is the perfect place to get away from it all and enjoy some serious solitude amidst incredible scenery.

While Atlin is in British Columbia, you need to drive through the Yukon to get there. It’s just over 100 miles (175 km) from Whitehorse. While doable as a day trip, there’s no way you’ll want to turn around and leave. We highly recommend spending at least one night in Atlin’s splendor. You can camp here, or rent cabins and even houseboats during the summer!

Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

The Kwanlin Dün, the first people to settle the region, are the subject of a visit to the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (KDCC). The building performs double duty as a convention centre, a gathering place, and a location to honour the Kwanlin Dün First Nation's rich cultural legacy and history.

Visitors should take note of the enormous collection of rare Kwanlin Dün cultural relics as well as the chance to see traditional music, dance, and storytelling performances. Additionally on show are works of indigenous art, as well as changing exhibitions by a range of regional and national Canadian artists.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 1171 Front Street

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Takhini Hot Springs

The Takhini Hot Springs are a well-known attraction for both tourists and locals, and they are conveniently located near downtown Whitehorse. People have long used hot springs because they are odourless and have medicinal and healing properties.

Today's experience is rather sophisticated, offering visitors a choice of two pools to unwind in, each with a different temperature. The temperature of the water in the hot pool is 42 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees cooler than the temperature at the surface), while the temperature on the cool side is a pleasant 36 degrees Celsius. Consider staying at the on-site hostel or on one of the nearby campgrounds to make the most of your trip.

The hot springs will reopen in 2021 following extensive repairs under new management.

Address - Takhini Hotsprings Road, Whitehorse, Yukon, 10 km/mile 6.

Take a Town Tour

Much of Whitehorse's past, which dates back to the time of the gold rush, is yet unexplored. Fortunately, information on three self-guided tours is provided by the Yukon Historical & Museums Association. Simply select one of the three options, or all three, and download the audio programme to your phone. Make care to print the supplemental map if you have one.

The office will give you a free copy of the map if you don't have a method to print one yourself. The programme will act as your tour guide while showing you intriguing facts about the city.

Buses, carriages pulled by horses, and trips on the M.V. Schwatka to Miles Canyon and Schwatka Lake are additional ways to explore the city.

Address - 3126 Third Avenue, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Arts Centre

An arts venue with a variety of uses, the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) in Whitehorse hosts cultural events, regional performing ensembles, dance and theatre companies, as well as local and touring art exhibitions. The permanent collection of the Yukon Arts Center includes more than 100 pieces created by regional and other Canadian artists, ranging from painters to musicians.

The year-round presentation of a delightful lineup of children's programmes is something parents who are taking their children on vacation should consider.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 300 College Drive

Yukon Government Building

The Territorial Government Building, which is frequently included on guided tours of Whitehorse and is decorated with tapestries and paintings made in Yukon, is well worth a stop if you're taking a self-guided walking tour of the city. The majority of what the general public can see can be experienced within a quick stopover. The stained glass painting that spans the entire foyer is extremely intriguing and is a detail that should not be missed.

It's simple to drop by for a peek because the building is across the street from the visitor centre.

Address - Whitehorse, Yukon, 2071 Second Avenue

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

Be sure to stop at Emerald Lake whether you are travelling south toward Carcross or are simply seeking for an afternoon activity on a bright day. On a calm day, this magnificent lake is the most stunning shade of green. Photographers will be in their element as they attempt to capture the nearby hills' reflections in the lake's pristine waters. Make sure to go early in the day to obtain the best photo.

Just over 60 kilometres along Highway 2, Emerald Lake should be reached in about 40 minutes. If you are approaching from Whitehorse, the lake will be on your right.

Where to Stay in Whitehorse for Sightseeing?

We have listed out these centrally placed hotels as a handy base to explore this fascinating northern city's major sights and areas of interest for visitors who intend to visit the top attractions in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Luxury lodging:

  • Don't be fooled by the Edgewater Hotel's unassuming facade; it is actually a chic boutique-style luxury hotel with a prime location in the centre of Whitehorse. The rooms and suites are adjacent to the city's biggest attractions and have Yukon River views, contemporary furnishings, feather bedding, and friendly staff.
  • The fittingly called SKKY Hotel, which is close to Whitehorse International Airport, has stylish modern rooms, granite bathrooms (with heated floors), as well as a selection of larger suites with increased living spaces.

Midrange lodging:

  • The Coast High Country Inn offers outstanding mid-range pricing, good customer service, a choice of upgraded rooms with kitchenettes and Jacuzzis, as well as a complimentary airport shuttle, even if it leans toward the luxury accommodation side of things.
  • The Best Western Gold Rush Inn, which offers cosy accommodations, an Aveda hair salon, a day spa, and a fitness centre, is also well worth staying at.

Cheap lodging:

  • The Town and Mountain Hotel is a popular choice among guests looking for inexpensive lodging in Whitehorse because of its convenient location, spotless rooms, and plentiful free parking.

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