Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2023

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and is the largest city in northern Canada. It’s located along the Yukon River and is surrounded by pristine wilderness. It has a rich history in mining and played a key role in the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s. Whitehorse is also reputed to be one of the best places in Canada to see the northern lights and enjoy the rugged outdoors.

We passed through Whitehorse during our drive along the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to Haines Junction and stopped at Miles Canyon to stretch our legs. The canyon was created nearly nine million years ago from lava flows in the valley. There’s a few hiking trails around the canyon, along with a suspension bridge that crosses the Yukon River and provides sweeping views of the landscape.

After spending a few days in Kluane National Park and Reserve, we circled back to Whitehorse to restock on groceries and explore some of the main attractions. Since we’d be visiting a larger city, we figured we might as well stay in a hotel for the next couple of nights. Plus, after spending the last week camping, we were in desperate need of a shower.

We started our day at the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs which features a variety of Scandinavian and Japanese Onsen healing practices. Nestled within the forest, the facility contains four natural outdoor rock pools, two steam rooms, two saunas, and other areas to relax and lounge around. The pools contain natural hot springs water of varying temperatures and are drained and cleaned every day. And the facilities are only available to those over 19 years of age.

We booked our tickets online as their website indicated that it’s more expensive to book in person, and selected one of the first time slots available. Upon our arrival we checked in at the front desk and were given a key to a locker and bin for our belongings. We were required to take a shower before changing into our bathing suits. Once we stashed our stuff in our lockers, we were free to explore the facility at our own pace.

The Eclipse has a recommended cycle known as thermotherapy, which involves a sequence of “hot, cold and relax” rituals, which are then repeated. We opted to do our own thing, mostly because I couldn’t use the hottest of the pools, sauna or steam rooms due to pregnancy. Instead we spent most of our time in the Eclipse Pool (the largest pool which features a Japanese design and overlooks the mountains), Aurora Pool (a smaller pool with contoured benches), Hidden Pool (an even smaller pool with cooler temperatures) and the Japanese Clay Tubs (accommodates one person and contains cooler water).

Image taken from Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs

After spending a couple of hours pampering ourselves, we figured it was time to get a move on. From there we headed to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. The preserve covers 350 acres and contains twelve species that are native to the Yukon. It also operates a wildlife rehabilitation facility and offers a number of educational programs and events. There are two general options to view the wildlife. There’s a guided bus tour (for an extra fee) or a 5km trail that loops around the various enclosures. We opted to hike along the trail so we could explore at our own pace and get our steps in.

The “trail” essentially follows the same road that the guided bus tour takes which forms a figure eight loop. The road passes by the various wildlife enclosures for the following species: wood bison, mule deer, moose, thinhorn sheep, woodland caribou, Canadian lynx, red fox, mountain goats, muskox and elk. We weren’t able to spot all (or even half) of the species. And the truth is that we had much better wildlife sightings while we were driving along the Alaska Highway. But, we were supporting a good cause and it was a nice day to be outdoors.

We headed back to downtown Whitehorse to hit up the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site. Parks Canada offers guided tours in English and French throughout the summer. We were about 10 minutes late for the guided tour that started at 2pm. But since no one had signed up for the tour, they were able to accommodate us latecomers. And we essentially had our own private tour. The timing worked out well for another reason as this was the final day of guided tours for the season.

The S.S. Klondike actually refers to two sternwheelers that were used to carry freight along the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City. Klondike I was built in 1929 and was used until it ran aground in 1936. Some parts were salvaged and used to build Klondike II the following year. It carried freight until the early 1950s before it was retired following the construction of a highway to connect Whitehorse to Dawson City. Parks Canada then acquired it in 1960, conducted extensive restorations and designated it a national historic site.

Our guide explained the history of the S.S. Klondike and how labour (and wood) intensive it was to make a roundtrip from Whitehorse to Dawson City along the Yukon River. We toured through the main floor where many of the furnishings are representative of what a sternwheerler would have onboard at the time. The upper deck was closed when we visited for renovations.

We returned to our hotel to have a quick bite to eat before heading to the MacBride Museum to learn more about the history of the Yukon. The museum contains more than 40,000 objects and includes a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits which provide a better understanding of the culture, climate and economic history of the territory. Some exhibits showcased stories from the First Nations peoples, the types of mammals found in the Yukon, and had more information about the Klondike Gold Rush. The museum also featured some artwork by Ted Harrison and contains the original Whitehouse telegraph office.

We spent longer than anticipated exploring the different galleries and exhibits and stayed until closing. Afterwards we took a short stroll through the downtown and along the Yukon River. It was then time for us to head back to our hotel. We were planning to get an early start the next morning as we had a long day of driving to get to Tombstone Territorial Park, located along the Dempster Highway.


96 thoughts on “Whitehorse

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Whitehorse is surprisingly bigger than I expected. There were a couple of other museums that I wish we could have visited, but I think we managed to hit up the highlights during our day in the city. It was a fun way to learn more about the history of the Yukon and get a glimpse of what life is like here.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We ended up travelling even further north when we headed up to Dawson City afterwards. If you enjoyed your time in Banff, you’d love it in the Yukon. It’s just a bit more rugged and remote, but there are lots of great opportunities to enjoy the wilderness and spot some wildlife.

  1. kagould17 says:

    What a great post Linda. You certainly made the most of your time in Whitehorse. The museums present Canada’s northern history very well. Thanks for taking us there. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It was nice to shake things up and trade our hiking boots for running shoes and spend some time in the city. There’s surprisingly a lot to do in Whitehorse and we easily lost track of time. Yukon has a fascinating history. We got a chance to learn more about it when we headed even further north to Dawson City.

  2. Lyssy In The City says:

    The Yukon River water is so beautiful! It would be so incredible to be surrounded by so much untouched nature like that. I bet the air is so crisp and fresh! That museum looks great too!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Canada is known for its wilderness and the Yukon is one of the best places to experience it. Spending some time in Whitehorse was a great way to learn more about the history of the Yukon. I’m glad this area wasn’t too impacted by all the recent wildfires as we were able to enjoy mostly clear skies for our entire road trip.

  3. ourcrossings says:

    What a fantastic place to stop and stretch your legs, Linda! Looks like the Yukon’s capital is a small city with a big backyard and a must-stop for those driving the Alaska Highway. Therefore it makes its way onto my travel wish list. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. After spending the past few days camping and hiking, it was nice to spend some time in the city. Whitehorse was surprisingly bigger than I expected and we easily lost track of time. It’s definitely a great stop to make along the Alaska Highway to learn more about the history of the Yukon and to pick up more groceries and supplies along the way. Thanks for reading. Take care. Linda

  4. wetanddustyroads says:

    Beautiful photo of the Yukon River from the suspension bridge. Oh, forget about the hot and cold pools and take me straight to the one that says “relax” 😁. The museum looks like a nice place to pass the time … and I like that photo of the bison (it is a bison, right?)

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a fan of suspension bridges. The one at Miles Canyon was a great way to get a fantastic view of the river. After spending the past few days hiking, it was nice to relax at the hot springs and treat ourselves. You guessed correctly, that one photo is of a bison. We actually came across a couple of herds of bison on the drive back towards Edmonton along the Alaska Highway (but more on that later).

  5. Little Miss Traveller says:

    What a great itinerary Linda. Whitehorse was featured on our television network recently so it was even better to read your piece. So good that you took time out to pamper yourselves in the spa pools too.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I was surprised at how much there is to do in Whitehorse. We were only there for a day, but could have easily stayed for longer. The history of the Yukon is fascinating and what better way to learn more about it than by visiting a few of the museums. It was also nice to treat ourselves too by visiting the hot springs, especially after all that hiking we just did at Kluane.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The Yukon has such an interesting history, especially in relation to the Klondike Gold Rush. It was great to get a glimpse of it from our visit to Whitehorse and made us even more excited to then visit Dawson City. It’ll be neat to eventually visit the NWT to see how different Yellowknife is in comparison.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! This was a rather spontaneous road trip and I’m glad it worked out well in terms of the timing and weather. After spending the past few days camping and being out on the road, it was nice to be in a city again, even if it was just for the day.

      I’m due in mid-December. As you can probably tell, we’re already trying to share our love of the great outdoors with our little tater tot.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was nice to treat ourselves at the hot springs after spending the past few days hiking. We lucked out with our tour of the S.S. Klondike, especially considering we showed up a bit late and that it was the last day Parks Canada was offering tours. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be here during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet. Whitehorse has such a fascinating history. It was neat to learn more about the Klondike Gold Rush and history and culture of the First Nations people. We could have easily spent an extra day here.

  6. elvira797mx says:

    Wonderful post! Great photos! Love the lake, those colors, Thank´s for share Linda. Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs looks like an amazing place and the museum so cute and interesting.
    Have a great and relaxing weekend! Keep well. Elvira.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      After spending the past few days exploring the wilderness in Kluane, it was nice to trade our hiking boots for running shoes and explore Whitehorse. It was also really amazing to pamper ourselves at the hot springs and get some rest and relaxation.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know! And the fun doesn’t stop. After Whitehorse we headed to Dawson City and drove a bit along the Dempster Highway to Tombstone Territorial Park. It was probably my favourite part of our entire road trip.

      I was surprised at how much I was still able to hike while being six months pregnant. I was obviously much slower, but that meant more opportunities to take pictures when I needed to catch my breath. I was pretty much done with camping towards the end of the trip though. I’ve started to slow down much more now, but I’m still trying to go for short walks when the weather is nice.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Typically people go to the hot springs to get some rest and relaxation and to detoxify. Sounds like you had the complete opposite experience where you left feeling worse than when you started! Thankfully that was not the case for us. But then again, we didn’t actually do the proper hot/cold suggested cycle.

  7. Ab says:

    What a beautiful visit you had at Whitehorse, you did it all, nature, beautiful scenery, stunning wildlife, museums and also pampered yourself!

    It’s a part of Canada I hope to visit one day and fingers crossed we’ll get to experience the majesty of the northern lights one day too.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving long weekend!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Whitehorse exceeded my expectations and was actually much bigger than I thought it would be. We could have easily stayed for longer. Hopefully you’re able to visit someday as the scenery is spectacular and it has such a fascinating history. I bet it looks magical in the winter with all the snow and northern lights. Seeing the northern lights is on my bucket list as well.

      Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving too. We took one last small trip to Thunder Bay to spend the long weekend in a cabin at Neys Provincial Park. It was chilly outside, but nice to experience the fall in Northern Ontario.

  8. Wetravelhappy says:

    I’m drawn to the pool again like in your previous post, Linda 🙂 I could only imagine the beautiful mountains that you mentioned you could see from the pool. And oh I love that (though I might sound selfish here) when nobody else turns up during a shared tour, because it’s exactly what you said, a private tour (for a much cheaper price hehehe). Have a great weekend you guys. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know what you mean. I’m such a fan of the water and naturally the first thing on our itinerary was to visit the hot springs. It’s neat that all the pools were outdoors so you can admire the scenery while going for a soak. Having a private tour is always such a special experience. It sounds like we came at the perfect time, especially since this was actually the last day of the season where the S.S. Klondike was open. It was meant to be.

      • Wetravelhappy says:

        Oh yes meant to be! Yes outdoor pools have that advantage. That reminds me of the pool in Zermatt (Switzerland), it was outdoor heated to 33 or 34 degrees with the view of the snowcapped mountains… Ah here I go again reminiscing, dreaming of another experience like that.

  9. TomBoy says:

    Gorgeous pictures! The blue of the lake looks unreal. Sorry that you missed some of the wildlife! The hike looked great though.

    I have never been able to do hot springs well. It makes my blood pressure get too high–I’ve run hot. The next time I’m with someone doing that, I’m going to heat only for a minute and then do the cooling pools!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Even though we didn’t see much wildlife in the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, we more than made up for it during the drive along the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse and back again. I was six months pregnant when we were in Whitehorse so I avoided the super hot pools and saunas and instead stuck to the lukewarm and cooler pools. I was too much of a wuss to try the coldest of them though! It’s nice that they have a variety of pools with different temperatures.

      • TomBoy says:

        Hahahaha! Doubt your a wimp at all! Look what you’re doing when you’re over 20-weeks into your pregnancy.

        When I ran the Insanity Mud Run and the Tough Mudder, those freezing mud pools were not my favorite either!

        I do love your blog. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Ha, that’s true. It’s funny because I’d rather hike up a mountain despite being six months pregnant at the time rather than take a polar plunge in a cold pool!

        You are too kind. Thanks for following along on all our crazy adventures. It’ll be interesting to see how much travelling will change for us with a baby.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. I was surprised at how big Whitehorse is and how much there is to do. We were just there for a day, which felt a bit rushed, but I’m glad we managed to hit up the highlights. The next part of our journey towards Dawson City was the highlight of our trip.

  10. leightontravels says:

    Thanks for taking us to Whitehorse, a place we knew almost nothing about. I like the mix between relaxation, history and nature, we’d have been all over the hot springs experience. I knew Klondike by name but was glad to get the lowdown, great work.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s surprisingly a lot to see and do in Whitehorse. Going to the hot springs was a great way to start our day, but I gotta say, it was tough to leave. The history of the Klondike Gold Rush is pretty fascinating. We learned more about it at Dawson City, which is where most of the action took place. It’s such a neat town and was one of the highlights of our road trip.

  11. travelling_han says:

    A really interesting place. I’m geeking out because I’m a massive history nerd and I know the Klondikes history – I always loved that bits from #1 were re-used for #2. Looks like a great place to visit and the hot springs look wonderfully relaxing.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because I was never really into history while in school, but ever since we’ve started travelling, I find it more fascinating. One of our favourite stops along our road trip across the Yukon was in Dawson City, which was at the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush. It was neat to learn more about the history of how it all went down. Agreed, it’s neat how parts from S.S Klondike II were taken from its predecessor. It was quite the undertaking to build the boat in the first place so it makes sense to recycle and repurpose as much as they could.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It seems like Whitehorse is a great place to visit regardless of the season and has a nice mix of nature, wildlife, history and culture. I would love to return in the winter to see the northern lights.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. We were only there for a day, which felt a bit too rushed. Let’s be real, we could have easily spent more time at the hot springs! There were also a couple of other museums we had on our list that we had to scrap as we ran out of time.

  12. Laura says:

    I have never been to any of the territories and would LOVE to do a road trip in this area, in combination with Alaska (I have some of your most recent posts saved that I still need to read)! Your time in Whitehorse sounds like it was a perfect combination of nature, culture and relaxation. 💖😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We were initially planning on spending some time in Alaska, but soon realized we needed way more vacation days and decided to just stick to the Yukon. Hopefully you’re able to make it this far up north. It was such an amazing experience. Whitehorse was surprisingly bigger than I thought and was a nice break from being out in the wilderness.

  13. grandmisadventures says:

    Wow what a cool area to follow along with! Between the nordic hot springs, the museum, the ship, the wildlife, and the stunning views- I would say is pretty near perfect. Beautiful pictures and interesting read 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Visiting the hot springs was a great way to start our day, especially after spending the past few days hiking. It was tough to leave though. I’m such a fan of suspension bridges and couldn’t resist stopping at the one at Miles Canyon since it was along the way. The colour of the Yukon River is gorgeous, even more so when the sun is shining.

  14. Bama says:

    It’s not very often I read blog posts about the Yukon. So this is such an interesting sneak peek into what this Canadian territory has to offer. How cold was it there during your trip? I can’t imagine being so far up north.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Yukon isn’t high up there in terms of people’s travel bucket list, which is part of its appeal. It’s one of the few places to actually experience Canada’s rugged wilderness. We went towards the end of the summer, so we still enjoyed warmer days (where the temperatures were typically around 20C), but it did get chilly at night (where the temperatures dropped to around freezing). This is definitely the furthest north we’ve travelled to!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. That was our first time seeing a wood bison before, which are even larger than the plains bison. We ended up seeing much more of them in the wild during the drive back to Edmonton along the Alaska Highway. It’s incredible how huge they are.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I was surprised at how much we were able to cram into the day, especially considering we took our sweet time at the hot springs. I’ve been trying to stay as active as I can during pregnancy, but I’m really starting to slow down now that I have less than two months to go.

  15. Little Old World says:

    I must admit I’d never heard of Whitehorse before, but it looks a really interesting place to spend a day, with a little something for everyone – stunning scenery, wildlife, museums and the very inviting hot springs. Thanks for the introduction!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Whitehorse is the largest city in Northern Canada. But even then it has a relatively small population (just over 25,000 people). It was surprisingly bigger than we thought and there’s quite a bit to do depending on whether you’re interested in history, culture or spending time in nature. We had a wonderful day exploring the highlights. Thanks for reading. Linda

  16. alisendopf says:

    You really packed a lot into one day. Travel Level: Expert 🙂
    Looks like you had the pools to yourself. So well deserved after all your hiking and camping.
    Can’t wait to read the rest of your travels.

  17. Aoc says:

    How wonderful it is to learn there are beautiful places as this still in existence especially when the urban rat races of today have become overwhelming.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. The pace of life is so much more relaxed here. And there’s something to be said about being surrounded by nature and spending time outdoors. It really is good for your well-being.

  18. Lookoom says:

    Whitehorse is more developed and more modern than Dawson, but they try to preserve some of the atmosphere of the Gold Rush too. There are interesting sites to learn more about the colorful local history. I really enjoyed my visit to the S.S. Klondike, which can also be done on your own, as well as the MacBride Museum, which I visited at the end of my stay, as a bit of a refresher course. Thank you for reminding me of those good times.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Whitehorse has a very different vibe than Dawson City, but is still full of character. I was impressed at how many museums there are and how each one was very comprehensive. It was a great way to learn more about the history of the Yukon. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

  19. Bernie says:

    We plan to fly into Whitehorse and wanted to go to the game reserve, but now I wonder if it’s worth it? I had already earmarked both those Parks Canada sights, but thanks for the heads up on the museum. I know we will really enjoy it.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We booked our trip at the last minute so the cost of a flight into Whitehorse was outrageously expensive. Same with a car rental. That’s one of the main reasons why we flew into Edmonton instead. It was a long drive to get to Whitehorse from there, but it was a great way to enjoy the scenery and spot some wildlife. I was a bit disappointed in the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, but that was only because we had such fantastic wildlife viewings along the drive. Glad to hear the MacBride Museum is on your list, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We also wanted to visit the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, but didn’t have enough time.

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