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13 Things to do in Dawson City Yukon

Visiting Dawson City Yukon is pretty amazing as this small town is full of wonderful things to do. The city is always busy, therefore, you will have several activities to do. The Klondike Goldrush is very famous and to know about that you can go with gold tourist tour guides who lead tourists on a walking tour of downtown Dawson City Yukon and lets you know about the places around.

A fascinating history of the area can be found in the Dawson City Museum and to taste the Yukon culture, the Dänojà Zho Cultural Center is worth a visit. If you are looking forward to knowing about this place, then there are many cultural centres and national historic sites which will help you dive into the history and culture of the place.

If you love driving along the scenic route, then Top of the World Highway is your route.  It was built in 1955 and connects Dawson City Yukon with Alaska. Opening from May to September, this paved road takes the best driver up the mountains, creating spectacular views on all sides. Driving is especially good in the fall.

Dawson City, Yukon is lively and it is not only famous for the gold dust and related history, but this place also has many fun cultural events and festivals where they organise contests like races and gold panning. There are also some cheapest places to live in Canada if you feel like settling here.

13 Things to do in Dawson City Yukon

1. Visit the Dawson City Yukon for Klondike Gold Rush

Klondike Gold Rush
Photo by National Park Service on Flickr

The Dawson City Yukon Territory is famous for the Klondike gold rush, therefore Klondike goldfields are worth visiting and this is among the fun things you can do in Dawson City, Yukon.

Dawson City, Yukon is well known for the world-famous Klondike Gold Rush. On 16 August 1896, three Yukon “Sourdoughs” named George Carmack, Dawson Charlie, and Skookum Jim discovered the gold in Rabbit Creek (now known as Bonanza Creek) that flows into the Klondike River.

The report of the findings spread quickly to about 1,000 inspectors, miners, Northwest Police, missionaries, and others who called Yukon’s home at the time. The accommodation was quickly abandoned as it began to rush to find the best location.

Two of these residents were Joe Ladue and Arthur Harper who had been trading in Yukon for years. They quickly bought, encrypted and established the Dawson township (named after Canadian Geologist George Mercer Dawson) where the Yukon and Klondike Rivers meet, about 20 miles from the Discovery Claim.

In-depth Information about the Goldrush

News reached the outside world in July 1897 when steamships Excelsior and Portland arrived in San Francisco and Seattle, respectively, with the successful miners from last season carrying the infamous “Ton of Gold”.

News spread like wildfire as “novels could not be dragged down the stream” to a land of poverty and caused unprecedented tensions of an estimated 100,000 people heading for Klondike.

Many have left without knowing what they are going through. They follow treacherous routes that include rugged terrain, snow-capped mountains, and icy rivers to lodge a claim of good fortune in Klondike. Many will need to travel more than 5000km to reach Dawson City Yukon.

In 1898, Dawson grew rapidly as thirty thousand (some say fifty) picks and shovels, explorers, shopkeepers, saloon keepers, bankers, gamblers, prostitutes and adventure seekers took over the city. Money was not a problem in Dawson, as gold was plentiful, and businesses catering to gold miners were booming because of gold mining.

2. Observe The Yukon River

Yukon River
Photo by Art Tower from Pixabay

Riders ride beautiful rowing wheels to experience the great Yukon River in style. Walk the length of the most iconic Yukon river in an old tandem boat. It traces the trail of thousands of gold-seeking and rushing people to Klondike in the famous spring of 1898.

With a small team and an experienced guide, you will paddle all 730 miles on the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City Yukon- a two-week trek across the Yukon proportions.

In addition to a one-day vacation to be relocated to the town of Carmacks, you will be camping on rocky outcrops and in deforested areas along the river.

Sharing campfires and hot food in the well-equipped camps. The trip is to visit the historic ghost towns of Hootalinqua, Big Salmon, and Fort Selkirk, where members of the Selkirk First Nation freely share their knowledge and experience.

3. Visit Museums of Dawson City Yukon

(a) Jack London Museum

Photo by Pexels on Pixabey

Located in the quiet corner of Dawson City Yukon, this amazing museum is entirely dedicated to the life of White Fang American author, one of America’s most famous American writers. Dawson City and the nearby ghost town Forty Mile are featured prominently in London novels and short stories, including Call of the Wild.

Inside the Museum

The museum has historical archives and inscriptions that allow visitors to learn about London events before, during and after the Klondike Gold Rush and London joined the famous Klondike Gold Rush in the year 1897.

The museum allows visitors to see how London (and others) lived during the famous Klondike Gold Rush. It is complete with materials and objects that are up to date. This statue is built from half of the wood of the original London Cabinet.

(b) Dawson City Museum

Visit the Dawson City Museum and go to the well-renovated Dawson City building for the Territorial Administrative Building. Once you arrive, prepare yourself for thrilling stories of adventure, survival, mysteries and industry.

Check out the galleries and exhibitions, and follow the regional growth from its original location of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in to the amazing city that exists today. Featuring a wide variety of museums, artefacts, and exhibits, the Dawson City Museum is a ‘must-see’ place for every history lover.

Friendly and knowledgeable staff will answer all your questions while providing you with a series of programs from interactive exhibitions to exciting gold pouring shows.

4. Explore The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre

Dänojà Zho Cultural Center (old house) is across the street on the banks of the Yukon River. This place holds the history of Dawson City, Yukon, so you can come here and meet the locals who have a story to tell.

The Dänojà Zho Cultural Center is the gateway to the epoch of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. A centre is a meeting place for cultural activities, games and special events that celebrate the culture and the way people live today.

More about This Cultural Centre

Dänojà Zho is open year-round with guest programs and summer season activities. From May to September, people are offered a guided tour of the Hammerstone gallery to share the vision during the gold rush.

Each summer the Meeting Room hosts a new exhibition, showcasing the healthy and rich culture. Visitors can take part in the pride by taking part in river walks, theme shows, art exhibitions and a variety of film presentations.

The Dänojà Zho gift shop specializes in unique handmade garments, bead shoes and jewellery. The locals carry a large collection of music, art and literature that reflect and celebrate the First National Culture.

5. Enjoy Dawson City Music Festival

music festival
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The Dawson City Yukon Music Festival (DCMF) is the most popular cultural event in the Yukon since 1979. Over the years, it has grown into a world-class exhibition of North American artists of various genres, as well as a great launch party. The festival is popular among well-known artists and music lovers all over Canada.

More about the Dawson City Music Festival

Enjoy the beautiful music, the friendly people and the real atmosphere in the heart of Yukon’s Klondike.

Since 1979, the event has grown from being a weekend barbecue in the field to a mid-summer Yukon. Despite its humble beginnings, it has become a consuming event in the community, is one of the most anticipated events in the north, and sets the standard for efficiency in programs.

DCMF regularly receives national and international media coverage, from the Toronto Star to the San Francisco Post-Examiner; from Saturday’s magazine to The Walrus: from CBC Radio to ExclaimmMagazine.

The latest Canadian version of the board game Trivial Pursuit covers a question about the moniker sponsored by Georgia Straight of Vancouver, “a small, complete Canadian festival.”

6. Relax in Sourtoe Cocktail Club

Sourtoe Cocktail is an alcoholic toe decorated cocktail for the past 48 years, which has served as a way for visitors to share the Church’s vision of proving Dawson City, Yukon. In 1973, Captain Dick Stevenson allegedly found a cut toe in the house of a former rumrunner and miner Louie Liken.

Stevenson threw a toe at Yukon Jack and allowed others to gain membership in the Sourtoe Cocktail Club for a small fee and this continued and became popular among tourists and people who reside here. You can know the full story behind it when you visit this place or read about it before coming here.

They also give a membership who drinks the cocktail and the toe in it touches the mouth and the certificate is given which is presented to all graduates as proof of their membership in this special club. Those who eat the cocktail become the “real Captain Yukon”.

7. Look at The Midnight Dome

A trip to the beautiful Dawson City Yukon is incomplete without taking your picture over Midnight Dome. Drive or ride in this amazing place and take a panoramic view of the region. Marvel at the beauty of the Yukon River and the Klondike Valleys, and explore the Ogilvie Mountain Range in the distance.

Outside the city, turn onto Dome Road, and follow the winding road for about 10 to 15 minutes, which will take you straight up. Access to the viewing area may be limited by weather and conditions. Find (unmarked) trailhead from Ninth Avenue Trail and King Street, there are several ways to climb a mountain, from medium to heavy, so plan your trip accordingly.

Determine your destination using the map or by talking to one of the friendly staff at the Visitor Information Center. The total margin is approximately 1700 feet and the round trip is located at a distance of 5 miles, depending on where you start.

8. Catch The Northern Light and The Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights
Photo by Sturrax from Pixabay

Dawson City Yukon is one of the best places to see the amazing North Lights and the Aurora Borealis. They start in late August, so you can have a summer vacation and enjoy the Northern Lights.

September is a great time to enjoy the Yukon because of the beautiful weather and autumn colours, this holiday runs from early September to late October, and then in the winter months from January to late March.

The Dawson City Yukon is an ideal place for a spectacular view of the northern lights. The best time to look at the northern lights is when the nights are long and dark: from November to March. However, if you are lucky, you are likely to get a glimpse of the aurora in the Yukon in mid-August, when the weather is still warm or in mid-April, when the snow begins to melt. The lights are most visible two hours before and two hours after midnight.

If you can travel farther north, the sight of aurora borealis will be much clearer. In the Yukon, you can see dance lights almost anywhere because of the low light pollution.

Whitehorse for the Aurora

Whitehorse is located between the Yukon River and three mountain peaks. It has many beautiful views of the mesmerising northern light. Fish Lake is located at an altitude of 4658 ft (1420 m), with a beautiful hiking trail and a beautiful view of the aurora.

Chadburn Lake Park in Whitehorse, located on the east bank of the Yukon River, is also famous for its northern lights. The capital city of Yukon also offers many exciting activities during the northern lighting season: wild cabinets, dog skiing, snow skiing, and even the thrill of a night sky in the tropical heat of the lake.

9. Walkthrough of The Tombstone Territorial Park

The enchanting Tombstone Territorial Park in Dawson City Yukon is 2,200 square kilometres of pristine wilderness with picturesque rugged peaks, permafrost landforms, and a wide array of unique flora and fauna.

The friendly working staff at the Tombstone Interpretive Centre will help you with everything you need from trail maps to camping permits- they will guide you through everything you need. Drop in for a cup of ‘Mountain Wild’ tea by the fire, visit the library, take part in an interpretive program or special event and enjoy the day.

Driving through the dumpster Highway is an experience like never before. The breathtaking landscapes that change at every turn await you on this 737 kilometres long all-weather gravel road, passing right through Tombstone Territorial Park.

Drive your way from downtown Dawson City, Yukon and take the North Klondike Highway for about 40 minutes. Turn towards the left onto the Dempster Highway and continue your drive for an hour, until you reach the Tombstone Interpretive Centre which is located on the left.

There is a card lock gas station at the Dempster turnoff, and the next services are not until Eagle Plains, 365 kilometres north on the Dempster, so make sure to fuel up before your journey.

There are plenty of hiking trails and campsites, from easy beginner trails like the North Klondike River trail or Goldensides to backcountry, overnight trips like Grizzly, Talus, or Divide Lake. The Trails and campsites are open from May to September.

Tombstone Territorial Park is a remote park, so you should be cautious even for day hikes and prepare for rough lands, very sudden changes in weather, and not forget animal encounters.

It will always be a great idea to check in with the Parks Interpretive Centre before venturing out into the park, as the staff will have an idea of current path conditions. If you would like to bring bear spray with you, you can borrow it from the Visitor Information Center in Dawson City as animal encounters are common here.

Snowshoeing in Tombstone Territorial Park

If you want to experience winter wilderness on another level, then Tombstone Park at this time of year is a destination for you. On clear days, the mountains are blanketed in brilliant white pop against the bluebird sky.

Although the visitor facilities are closed in winter, the Dempster Highway and territorial park remain open, so bring your equipment and snowshoe or ski across the vast snowy tundra.

Keep a check on the road conditions before heading out as the weather may change and be sure to have warm winter clothes with you as the weather is a bit chilly.

10. Observe The Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, Gambling Hall

Diamond Tooth Gertie's
Photo by sf-dvs on Flickr

This is Canada’s oldest gambling hall. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall is a casino in Dawson City, Yukon. It was first opened in 1971 by the Klondike Visitors Association, making it the oldest casino in Canada. Gertie’s, as it is known, and much of Dawson City reminds you of the local history of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Sponsors enjoyed a daily exhibition of vaudeville, inspired by one of Dawson’s most famous dance hall stars from the Gold Rush era, Gertie Lovejoy, who had a diamond between her two front teeth.

Gertie’s is different from Canadian casinos as it is the only place where sponsors can gamble, drink alcohol, and watch live entertainment in a single room, and it is the only casino in northern Canada.

It is still run by the Klondike Visitors Association, a non-profit organization. Revenue is re-invested in the city to help preserve historic sites, produce local events, and promote Klondike. In 2015, it was renamed the Municipal Heritage Site.

11. Wander around the City Street

Walking on the streets of Dawson City Yukon and admiring all the old buildings is indeed a treat to the eyes. Dawson City’s valuable buildings are owned by Parks Canada, which means they do their best to keep them looking the way they always are, rather than making them more modern.

You can easily spend a few hours wandering around and photographing vintage buildings, exploring the madness of some of them (due to permafrost and the inability to build the right foundations) and chatting with friendly local people.

The Dawson City Museum is the best place to learn all about Dawson City history if you like that. The Robert Service Cabin is a Klondike National Historic Site and is the former cabin of the famous Yukon poet.

12. Experience Dog Sledging

Dog Sledging
Image by Robin Bertolini from Pixabay

Dog sledging is well known northern transport mode and it is still very popular with tourists of Dawson City Yukon and locals alike.  Most tour operators are close enough to the city so it is easy to get on a half-day trip if that is your schedule that allows.

But there is a list of options, including a night trip where you will help take care of the dogs, sleep in a remote desert camp and watch the magical northern lights.

Now, if you finally decide to take the reins, ordering six dogs in front of an identified dog is not W-A-L-K in the park. You need to know how to communicate with these peppy puppies without using the words, “sit,” “sit” and “move the paws.” To get the best ride results, follow the tips from these rides for your life.

13. Look at The S.S. Keno

S.S. Keno National Historic Site of Canada in Dawson City, Yukon is a steam-powered river sternwheeler that sits on the banks of the Yukon River near the front street in Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

S.S. Keno was designated as Canada’s national historic site because it represents the Yukon lake and river-steam steam locomotives. Precious S.S. Keno resides in its entirety and uses it as a representative sternwheeler steamer, representing the shallow water of the type of vessel built for Yukon water transport.

S.S. Keno was built in Whitehorse in 1922 to move steel from the Mayo Landing on the Stewart River to Stewart Island on the Yukon River. In 1937, it was cut in half to allow three meters to be added to its length, increasing its cargo capacity. It retired at the end of the river roaming in 1953, was rehabilitated in 1960 and sailed to Dawson where it was treated as a public open space.

Something to Take Away

It is not just the history of the Klondike gold rush and gold panning that attracts people this way. There are more than enough things to do in Dawson City, Yukon.

The Dawson City, Yukon landscape is one of the most spectacular in the world, and the people who visit this place can find more friendliness and acceptance which makes your visit to Dawson City Yukon a memorable one.

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