Whitehorse - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Whitehorse


Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon and Canada's most westerly city, offers all the amenities of a major city but retains a small-town personality. Situated on the banks of the Yukon River, it was established as a handy trans-shipment point during the Klondike gold rush in 1898, when gold prospectors arriving from Skagway would board riverboats bound for the goldfields. Today its central position halfway between Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Fairbanks, Alaska on the historic Alaskan Highway is also convenient for visitors exploring the region.

The Yukon Visitor Reception Centre is a good place to start exploring the province: an information film, As the Crow Flies,is screened here every half hour, and maps and suggestions for tours and activities are available. Main attraction in Whitehorse is the restored river steamer, SS Klondike, moored on the bank of the Yukon River, which ferried passengers north to Dawson City. Tours of the steamer inform about the history of the gold rush, the Yukon River and the First Nations people. The MacBride Museum houses exhibits on a range of local topics, including a Klondike gold exhibition, in a complex of log buildings. Other attractions include the four-story log skyscraper, one of the most photographed buildings in Whitehorse; and Miles Canyon, from where the city's name originated: its rapids were likened to the manes of charging white horses.

Another popular Whitehorse attraction is the lively vaudeville show, the Frantic Follies, which takes to the stage every night in summer with music, can-can, skits and songs reminiscent of the Klondike days.

Information & Facts


Located in the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse has a dry subarctic climate with extreme variations between seasonal temperatures. Average daytime highs in summer are 70F (21C) and average lows of -7.6F (-22C) in winter. Average annual snowfall is 4.76ft (145 cm) while the annual rainfall is 6.4 inches (163 mm), making it Canada's driest city and has been named one of the cities with the most comfortable climate.

The official languages are English and French (predominantly in Quebec).

The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is divided into 100 cents. One-dollar coins are also known as loonies (due to the picture of a loon, a type of bird, on the coin), and two-dollar coins as toonies. Banks and bureaux de change will change money and travellers cheques, as will some hotels, but the rate will not be as good. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are plentiful. US Dollars are largely accepted, though due to fraud, larger notes might not be and change is usually given in Canadian dollars.

Canada covers six time zones, from GMT 8 in the west to GMT -3.5 in the east.

The area around Dawson City, which lured thousands of young men and a few brave women to join in the world's last great Gold Rush in 1897, is today bursting with attractions and sights centred on this romantic piece of Canadian history. Dawson City itself is a colourful town with boardwalk-lined streets and plenty of restored historic buildings, including Diamond Tooth Gertie's Dancehall and Casino. Then there is Carmacks, originally a riverboat fuelling station that is now a community preserving the First Nations culture, with an interpretive centre sketching aboriginal history over 10,000 years. Fort Selkirk is the oldest settlement in the area and now survives as a living museum. The other venue to visit on the Klondike trail is Pelly Crossing, where the life and times of the Northern Tutchone people is preserved at 'Big Jonathan's House'.

This vast park is dominated by mountains and ice in Canada's extreme alpine zone, and is a magnet to mountaineers and rugged adventure-seekers. The landscape includes mountain lakes, alpine meadows, tundra and swift cold rivers. At the heart of the park is Mount Logan, rising up in the midst of an ice field to 19,545 feet (5,959m), the highest mountain in Canada. Local tour operators in Yukon towns offer a variety of memorable day trips and excursions into the Park, featuring a wide range of activities such as canoeing, nature walks, rafting, fishing, hiking and mountain-biking. Air flips over the area are also a very popular way to sightsee. The Kluane National Park Visitor Reception Centre is at Haines Junction near the Alaska Highway.

In a remote area of Yukon Territory, on the banks of the Takhini River, a man named Frank Turner - who has completed the gruelling Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile sled-dog race, more times than anyone else - has established a truly wonderful community, centred around caring for his beloved sled-dogs. In recent years, the Muktuk Kennels have, in fact, grown into a massively popular excursion for visitors to Whitehorse - and it is not hard to see exactly why. The staff at Muktuk Kennels - who look after over 140 sled-dogs (mainly huskies, samoyeds and malumuts) - are deeply committed to the animals, and always try to include visitors in their daily care routines, while the eco-friendly guest houses (all operated on solar power) are comfortable, and homely, and offer panoramic views of the spectacular, unspoilt Ibex Valley. As popular in winter, when you can have a go at 'mushing' yourself, as in summer - when, for health reasons, the dogs aren't run, and canoeing and kayaking on the lake are the most popular activities - Muktuk Adventures is a heart-warming place to visit, that is sure to appeal to dog-lovers and nature-lovers the world over.

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