Whitehorse

Destination Location

Whitehorse
  • 60.720843, -135.049331:primary
  • 60.709444, -135.067222:secondary

Overview

Get ready to experience Yukon's brightest gem – Whitehorse. Whether you call it the land of the midnight sun or the home of the northern lights, Whitehorse is a Canadian treasure.

Ready for a true adventure? Try a two-hour, narrated cruise through the historic Miles Canyon as you explore the Klondike gold fields of 1898. Yukon River tours, which depart from the waterfront in downtown Whitehorse, offer breathtaking views and great service. Guided nature walks, hosted by the Yukon Conservation Society, are offered free of charge and cover some of the most beautiful areas of Whitehorse's landscape. If you're travelling during the summer, a hike through Wolf Creek Trail even offers camping. Fishing, biking, canoeing, kayaking and horseback riding adventures are available throughout the area and operate between May and September, when the weather allows for all-day fun.

Whitehorse's historical attractions include Shipyards Park, which plays hosts to music festivals and the Fireweed Market. Stop by and see the log skyscraper – exactly what it sounds like – a tall building built in the 1940s to rent as officers' quarters for the armed forces. No visit is complete without a visit to White Pass Station, possibly the most scenic railway in the world. Ride the rails on the trolley that runs along the waterfront.

Of course, people from all over the world come to Whitehorse to view the Aurora Borealis at night. Locally called the "northern lights," this phenomenon is experienced in its true majesty as the suns goes down and the sky lights up in flashes of green, blue and red.

Winter sports await you as the snow begins to fall. The area offers snowmobiling, ice climbing, ice fishing, skiing and snowshoeing in a panoramic landscape like no other. Create a one-of-a-kind memory with a dog mushing excursion, as you move along the Yukon River on a sled pulled by a team of veteran sled dogs.

Residents of Whitehorse are ready to welcome guests to their thriving community. Whether you enjoy one of the area's B&Bs or its charming, locally-owned stores, you'll see the best of the Yukon on full display.

Whitehorse is a fantastic destination for:

  • outdoor adventure

Destination basics

In the winter months, from November to March, Whitehorse is cold. While the temperature can dip quite low, it's a dry cold which is quite tolerable. By dressing in layers, winter sports can be enjoyable and you'll find the crisp air invigorating. The summer brings comfortable temperatures that complement a day on the water or a hike through the area's many trails. The area gets warmer than you might think – July averages a temperature of 20 C (68 F) during the day.

Whitehorse’s rugged Canadian landscape is no stranger to trending food movements and locally-driven culinary trends. From fair trade coffee roasters to restaurants serving foreign cuisines, Whitehorse has a fairly diverse dining scene. While downtown is the city’s epicenter for all culinary pursuits, a handful of restaurants dot neighborhoods like Takhini as well.

Downtown Whitehorse
Downtown Whitehorse is full of cozy, homespun cafes. Perhaps the wintry landscape demands such a contrasting setting, replete with wooden interiors and steam-billowing coffee machines. The Baked Cafe on Main Street is one such gem. During the day, delicious baked goodies such as fruit-filled pastries and quiches are the main draw, while night brings in a mixed bag of entertainment options, with everything from art exhibits to live music nights. The Alpine Bakery is another long-standing institution that serves incredible local flavors, from artisanal bread and organic yogurt to chocolate-inspired desserts. Speaking of desserts, The Claim is located at a stone’s throw from the Alpine Bakery, and must not be missed for its delightful selection of chocolate-dipped, Yukon-inspired candies. Try the Burnt Toast cafe one of the days for a satisfying breakfast. Equipped with a lively milieu, this place is open for lunch and dinner, and also serves drinks.

For more elaborate meals, visit the Klondike Rib & Salmon for its country-style ambiance and delicious barbecue specials, while the Miner’s Daughter on Main Street is an excellent choice for shared plates and hosts an atmospheric ambiance to boot. The Giorgios Cuccina is a slightly upscale Italian eatery that also serves Mediterranean meals. Go here for the perfectly cooked Arctic Char. If you seek something unusual, Antoinette’s Food Cache in downtown serves fusion cuisine, with the combined bests of Caribbean and Canadian cuisines. Have the Bison Burger and the Baked Brie for a satisfying meal. Near the river, the swank Wheelhouse Restaurant is a fine choice for elegant dining, hosting live jazz every Wednesday, and offering riverfront views all day long.

In a city speckled with Northern Canadian joints, the Sanchez Cantina offers a refreshing change with its Mexican eats. The area is also now home to several oriental restaurants, from the Sakura Sushi Japanese restaurant and the New Asia restaurant to budget Vietnamese eateries like the Pho 5 Star Restaurant.

Takhini
Takhini has a smattering of good cafes and restaurants, although nothing as diverse compared to Downtown Whitehorse. Most notable among these are the Bean North Cafe and Yukon Brewing. The Bean North Cafe serves rich organic goods, baked snacks, and fair-trade, aromatic coffee in a setting fit for the crisp mountain air, while Yukon Brewing serves a superb line-up of craft beer that includes Yukon Gold and Arctic Red Beers. You can also take home a growler of your most preferred brew after an elaborate tasting.

Christened Whitehorse after its namesake rapids that resemble a horse's mane, this quiet city thrives as a major transportation hub at the intersection of the Alaska and Klondike Highways. Home to a fairly mild climate, pristine riverside surroundings, and crisp mountain air, Whitehorse is the Yukon Territory’s wild child. To boot, it has also been deemed as the ‘city with the least air pollution in the world’, by the Guinness World Records.

The Yukon River cuts through the city’s expansive topography, dividing it into two prominent neighborhoods.  

Downtown Whitehorse
Before the Second World War, the city’s limits were confined to the downtown area, its peripheral neighborhoods only emerging into their own after the military retreated in 1968. Up to the late 1960s, Downtown Whitehorse also consisted of two squatter areas known as Whiskey Flats South and North, which were ultimately cleared for development. Today, the core downtown area is located on the river’s west banks. Though particularly nondescript on initial visual inspection, a leisurely walk around its avenues will unearth a small treasure of heritage buildings. Amid the concrete maze of low-rise commercial buildings, wanderers will chance upon glimpses from its storied past, such as the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site, the Old Log Church Museum, the MacBride Museum of Yukon History, the Rotary Peace Park, and the former site of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad Company.

The city’s booming art and culture scene is also clustered around the core downtown, with venues such as the Gwaandak Theatre and the Arts Underground calling the neighborhood home.

Adding to the city’s quaint charm is the legendary waterfront trolley, a heritage streetcar that once belonged to the the streets of Lisbon, Portugal. This sweet little reconditioned trolley shows curious tourists around town, carrying them along the length of the picturesque Yukon River.

Riverdale
The river’s eastern shore is home to one of the city’s earliest neighborhoods, Riverdale. Contrasting the commercial character of core downtown, this nature-soaked neighborhood is flanked by the western part of the Grey Mountains, and is blessed with enchanting scenery all year round. Lewes Boulevard is a major route that spans the Yukon River, and bridges the gap between Downtown Whitehorse and Riverdale. A few low-rise apartments dot the boulevard, indicating a smattering of residential population. An uphill road from Riverdale leads up to the Grey Mountain Cemetery, and further along the route a scenic lookout offers enthralling panoramic views of the wilderness below.

Surrounding neighborhoods
What is left of Whitehorse’s outlying areas is mostly perched above an escarpment, and includes the neighborhood of Takhini, which can be reached by ascending the ‘Two Mile Hill’. This residential neighborhood, mostly home to the lodgings of military personnel, also comprises of Yukon College and the Yukon Arts Centre. The smaller neighborhoods of Porter Creek and Crestview are located further north. Another small community in Whitehorse is Hillcrest, which is located along the Klondike Highway and lies in close proximity to the Erik Nielsen International Airport and the Yukon Transportation Museum. Further to its west, Hamilton Boulevard runs through the neighborhood of McIntyre, and is home to the Canada Games Centre.

Come night, the remote corners of Whitehorse come alive with the strains of live music. This otherwise quiet city has developed a blossoming arts scene in the past few years, with small live venues hosting talented local bands. Not only this, but the city has a wide range of entertainment options ranging from museums and galleries, to outdoors, sports, and festivals.

Performing Arts
Whitehorse’s well-funded arts scene is centered around several community gems, one of them being the Yukon Arts Centre. This comprehensive performance and visual arts facility consists of a 428-seat proscenium theater, an art gallery, and a community gallery. If you wish to catch a live guitar concert, a dance program, or a play, then the Yukon Arts Centre is our your best bet. The theater at the Yukon Arts Centre also streams live performances from the National Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Bolshoi Ballet Company. For performances designed for more intimate viewing, try the Old Fire Hall at the Centre that showcases performances from the Jazz Society and the Frostbite Music Society at their 100-seat venue.

Those with a preference for more native-inspired entertainment will be bowled over by performances at the Gwaandak Theatre. Yukon’s only theater with an indigenous flavor, this performing arts theater in Downtown Whitehorse is known for its homegrown storytelling. Another great option for local plays is the Guild Hall which has been entertaining Whitehorse’s cultural community for more than three decades. Catch them in action between September and May.

Much before the advent of modern music reached Whitehorse’s faraway corners, it became famous for its own brand of Gold Rush-inspired music, mostly comprising of peppy folk songs. The city has been home to a few award-winning artists too, who have left a mark in the music industry with their aboriginal recordings. Now, with the Gold Rush acoustics left in the past, the city has developed an enviable music scene that consists of both touring bands as well as local talent. Enjoy live music performances at the city’s popular watering holes, from Lizards Lounge and Jarvis Street Saloon to the Dirty Northern Pub.

Museums & Galleries
Spread over an area of 743.2 square meters (8000 square feet), MacBride Museum chronicles the city’s development as the capital of the Yukon Territory, and takes visitors through its history, its wildlife, and economic development. Those with a love for Canada’s natural history will delight at intriguing dioramas and skeletal exhibits of animals at the Beringia Interpretive Centre. This stunning research facility, located on the Alaska Highway, is also home to a gigantic replica of the Bluefish Caves Archaeological Site. Quite a few museums in the city also pay tribute to the city’s success as a transportation hub, and the events that led up to it, namely the Yukon Transportation Museum, and the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum. Closer to downtown, the Old Log Church Museum paints a quaint picture of the territory’s history, from the time of the First Nations’ settlement and its brief yet eventful brush with the Klondike Gold Rush, to its consequent victories in economy and transport.

Whitehorse’s creative arts comprises of an impressive line-up that mainly focuses on native Yukon art and artists. The remarkable Arts Underground works with the Yukon Arts Society to promote visual arts through soul-stirring art exhibits, while the North End Gallery on Front Street offers an amazing window into the world of regional art. At the independently owned Yukon Artists@Work gallery, eclectic art sourced from local artists is on display. For more eclectic artwork, head to the Yukon Arts Centre where the Community Gallery and Public Art Gallery showcase year-long exhibitions from both up-and-coming regional artists and established professional artists.

Festivals
Whitehorse hosts numerous festivals throughout the year that span various topics and interests, from music and film, to sports and arts. Several talented ice sculptors congregate in the city for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, an annual ice sculpture contest. With its proclivity toward the acoustics, music festivals are a given, with Whitehorse hosting the Frostbite Music Festival annually. Other arts festivals such as the Adäka Cultural Festival and the Yukon International Storytelling Festival herald several touring artists. One of the best annual outdoor fests that commences from Whitehorse is the exciting Yukon Quest, a 1609-kilometer (1000-mile) international dog-sled race that ends in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Outdoors
Yukon’s seemingly limitless outdoors and 19-hour long summer days encourage enthusiasts to come out and play. While days can be spent hiking up the trails of the surrounding mountains, nights are surrendered to the mystical whims of the Northern Lights that set the skies ablaze with their fiery colors. Whitehorse’s proximity to alpine frontiers offers intrepid explorers a chance to scale its many mountains through an extensive trail network, whether it is the day hike that leads up to the Grey Mountain summit, or the incredibly picturesque Miles Canyon Hike. Come winter, avid skiers can strap on their skis and swoosh around the snow-laden slopes of Mount Sima.

Sports
Whitehorse is a prime destination for tournaments, and has previously hosted several crucial sports events such as the 2007 Canada Winter Games, the International Curling Bonspiel, and the Arctic Winter Games, among others. In the city, the Canada Games Centre in downtown is dedicated to recreational sports, and features everything from a NHL sized arena, an indoor walking and running track, and a skating rink, to a fieldhouse, an aquatic center, and a wellness studio. Located in the Takhini neighborhood, the Takhini arena is a multi-use arena utilized as the home ground of the Yukon Claim Jumpers ice hockey team and the Whitehorse Huskies Triple A men’s hockey team.

Whitehorse

Province: Yukon Territory

Country: Canada

Whitehorse by the Numbers
Population: 23,276
Elevation: 670 - 1,702 meters / 2,200 - 5,584 feet        
Average Annual Precipitation: 26.23 centimeters / 10.32 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 145 centimeters / 57.09 inches
Average January Temperature: -15°C / 5°F
Average July Temperature: 14°C / 57°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-8 (GMT-7 Daylight Saving Time); Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 867

Did You Know?
During the summer solstice, Whitehorse receives an average of 19 hours of sunlight in a day.

Orientation
Whitehorse is located along the Alaska and Klondike Highways, on the Yukon River, in northern Canada. It is located 533 kilometers (331 miles) away from Dawson City, YT and 1994 kilometers (1239 miles) from Edmonton, AB.

Before the frenzy of the Klondike Gold Rush drew in hordes of prospective miners, the present-day city of Whitehorse was recognized as Canyon City. The area was the habitat of the First Nations people, who had set up fishing camps here. These would later be discovered by Frederick Schwatka, a United States army lieutenant, who followed the portage trail used by the First Nations people to evidence their settlement here.

In 1896, the entire historical mosaic of the area altered with the discovery of gold by Skookum Jim, Tagish Charlie, and George Washington Carmack. While the Chilkoot Trail was the primary thoroughfare used by initial miners, Canyon City was soon established as a preferred choice of stay for several novices. Canyon City became full with crowds of such novices, and several also lost their lives as boats capsized while attempting to cross the Whitehorse rapids. Around this time, Jack McIntyre and Sam McGee were among the first ones to find traces of copper in the hills that lay west to Whitehorse. This spurred the need to built two tramways on both east and west banks of the river, in 1898. By 1900 however, the advent of the White Pass and the Yukon route railway that connected Skagway and Whitehorse deemed this tramway redundant. The construction of the railway also fed the city’s population, which thrived soon after. The name Whitehorse was bestowed upon the city, as the shape of the rapids matched the mane of a horse.

In 1942, the need for building the Alaska Highway was felt, and the highway was opened to the public in 1947. Whitehorse gained status as a city when it was incorporated in 1950, and later in 1953, it was established as the capital of the Yukon Territory.

Points of interest in Whitehorse

See all points of interest Whitehorse

Departing from:

^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

Explore our world.

or find your dream vacation with our Vacation finder