This blog post was written before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when physical distancing and other COVID health and safety protocols were not in effect. The businesses and communities featured in this article may be once again welcoming visitors but please double check as some are only open with limited operations and others have not yet reopened.
Yukon has many cultural centers that tell the diverse stories of the many First Nation communities across the territory. While travelling, informative signs along highways and river paths will guide you through the natural history and the traditions of the land.
Length: 7 Nights / 8 Days
Dates: May to September
Route: Whitehorse – Haines Junction – Kluane Lake – Beaver Creek – Dawson City – Whitehorse
Day 1: Arrive in Whitehorse
Arrive at Whitehorse Airport and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore this historic town.
Overnight in Whitehorse
Day 2: Whitehorse’s Cultural Centre
Today discover the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, located on the gorgeous waterfront of Whitehorse. The centre introduces visitors to the heritage and culture of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation people and features First Nations cultural exhibits, displays, and artifacts, and hosts year-round cultural programming including workshops, film, live music, and festivals.
Overnight in Whitehorse
Day 3: Whitehorse to Haines Junction
Continue your cultural adventure, as you head west along the Alaska Highway through small villages in the area to Haines Junction, situated on the edge of the massive Kluane National Park. En route, stop in Champagne and visit Long Ago Peoples Place, an authentic re-creation of a traditional Southern Tutchone Village, where guides will walk you through the forest and teach you about traditional structures and how they were built and utilized by their ancestors. From animal and fish traps to housing and storage structures, guests will learn and be amazed at the ingenuity needed to make life vibrant in the far north.
Later today, continue your journey to Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction), where The Da Kų Cultural Centre celebrates the culture and traditions of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) Dän (people). Da Kų highlights and honours the language and stories, as well as the strong connection to the land, and living culture.
Overnight Haines Junction
Day 4: Haines Junction to Kluane Lake
Today, you will have a short drive north to Kluane Lake where you can experience traditional Southern Tutchone culture by staying at a comfortable cabin or yurt with Shakat Tun Adventures. Shakat Tun means summer hunting trails in our Southern Tutchone language and you will be hosted by the Allen family. Offering a variety of packages, Shakat Tun lets guests enjoy learning about the traditional medicinal plants and wildlife on guided nature and interpretive hikes, flora/fauna walks, campfire legends and stories and more.
Overnight Kluane Lake
Day 5: Kluane Lake to Beaver Creek
Today, continue west to Beaver Creek, home to the White River First Nation. Hiking trails of various skill levels are all close by and easily accessible along the Alaska Highway, where you will discover Kluane National Park and Reserve, which encompasses 22,013 square kilometres of land. The area covers the St. Elias mountain range, which includes Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada.
Overnight in Beaver Creek
Day 6: Beaver Creek via Tetlin Junction to Dawson City
You will cross into Alaska for a short time today, where your journey takes you via Tetlin Junction back to the Yukon and Dawson City. Dawson City is home to the Trondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, who have been fishing for thousands of years at the mouth of the Klondike and who have travelled widely on nearby rivers to trade, hunt and visit.
Overnight Dawson City
Day 7: Indigenous Culture in Dawson City
Dawson City has two experiences for visitors to discover First Nations culture and heritage.
Enjoy a two-hour Yukon River tour with Fishwheel Charter Services and Tommy Taylor, a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation Guide who has spent his entire life on and around the Yukon River. On the tour, you will visit a traditional fish camp and see a fishwheel in action; learn about Moosehide Slide, Hospital Hill, Ships Graveyard, and the Hän Village of Moosehide.
The nearby Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre and Gift Shop provide a welcoming atmosphere where visitors can enjoy the stories of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people and life before the arrival of the gold seekers. Join them for guided gallery tours, hands-on activities, exhibits, original films, and special events. Dänojà Zho has won awards for heritage presentation, hospitality and architecture.
Overnight Dawson City
Day 8: Dawson City via Pelly Crossing and Carmack to Whitehorse
The Klondike Highway is your access route back to the southern region of the Yukon. Along the way, you will catch glimpses of the mighty Stewart River before it joins with the mighty Yukon River for its 3,500 km journey up to Alaska’s Bering Sea. En route, stop at the Selkirk First Nation community of Pelly Crossing. Here, the Heritage Center at Pelly Crossing is housed in a replica of Fort Selkirk’s Big Jonathan House. The centre has a permanent exhibition of works by local artists, as well as locally made beaded clothing, birch bark baskets, traditional baby bunting bag, tools and more.
Further south along the highway in Carmack, the Tagé Cho Hudän Interpretive Centre showcases the traditional lifestyles of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation with elaborate displays inside and out. Sit inside a moose skin home, a brush house, or climb inside a log pole house. Inside displays include a rare collection of Northern Tutchone tools, such as micro-blades, tanning tools, a salmon skin dog pack and a netted rabbit skin blanket. Dioramas feature a dugout canoe and moose skin boats. Well-informed guides will tell you fascinating stories about the old days and the old ways during your tour.
Arrive in Whitehorse where your cultural journey ends.