Tombstone Territorial Park

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: September 2023

Tombstone Territorial Park is located in western Yukon about 600km north of Whitehorse. It was named after the Tombstone Mountain Range, which resembles a gravestone. Despite its name, the landscape is quite lively and diverse with boreal forests, jagged peaks, alpine meadows and arctic tundra. It’s reputed to be especially scenic at the end of summer with all the fall colours in the valley.

Day 1: The Drive Along the Klondike and Dempster Highways

We left Whitehorse bright and early. We stocked up on groceries and gas the night before as we had a long day of driving. Our game plan was to spend the next few days in Dawson City, which included a detour to Tombstone beforehand. It was a rather uneventful drive along the Klondike Highway, but the leaves were starting to change colour which looked scenic.

The most notable point of interest along the way is Five Fingers Rapids Recreational Site. The Five Fingers Rapids feature four islands that divide the Yukon River into five narrow channels. This section of the river was especially tricky to navigate during the Klondike Gold Rush for those traveling to or from Dawson City towards Whitehorse.

From the parking lot there’s a viewing platform. This also marks the start of a trail (1.6km round trip, rated moderate) that leads closer to the edge of the rapids. There’s several wooden staircases that lead down to a path that then weaves through the dense forest. The trail ends at another viewing platform overlooking the rapids. On the way back we stopped to read the information panels that are located along the staircases. This gave us an opportunity to catch our breaths and learn some fun facts about the flora and fauna in the area.

We were back on the road for another few hours before turning off at the start of the Dempster Highway. It is the only road that provides access to Tombstone. The Dempster Highway is a gravel road that starts 40km east of Dawson City and connects the Klondike Highway to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. It’s extremely remote with limited services along the way.

The Dempster Highway is 740km long. We only had to cover the first 72km to reach the Tombstone Mountain Campground. The road for the most part was in pretty good condition with just a few potholes, but the clouds were starting to get darker the further north we drove. And it was getting cooler outside. Just as we were pulling into the Tombstone Interpretive Centre, located half a kilometre south of the campground, it started to rain.

We checked out a few of the exhibits which provided more information about the history and landscape of the park before heading to the campground. The thing with Tombstone Mountain Campground is that it’s small. There are about 50 campsites, all of which are first come, first serve. By the time we arrived at 5pm, all the sites were already taken. There were a few camper vans and cars parked in the overflow parking lot near the entrance of the campground. We found a spot that was tucked away on the side and decided to call that home for the night.

The rain soon subsided and we were able to make some dinner on the picnic table, which we then ate in the car. We played a few rounds of cards before setting up our sleeping pads and sleeping bags in the back.

Day 2: Exploring the Trails

The temperature dropped to -3°C overnight. The nice thing about sleeping in the back of our car compared to our tent (besides the fact that it’s more spacious), is that our sleeping bags didn’t feel as damp when we woke up the next morning from the cold. The downside was that the condensation from our breaths made all the windows freeze over from the inside.

It was tough to get up from our warm sleeping bags. But at least we woke up to blue skies and sunshine. It was way too cold to make breakfast outside, so we headed to the indoor picnic shelter. This place was packed the night before, but was mostly empty this morning, likely because it was still pretty early. There were a few other campers here, one of which had already started a fire in the wood stove. We found a free space at one of the picnic tables and got started with breakfast. After finishing up, we figured we might as well go for a hike to stay warm.

There are six established trails in Tombstone, most of which are located around the Tombstone Mountain Campground. We started with Goldensides (5km round trip, rated moderate) which is located at the 74.5km mark along the Dempster Highway. To get to the trailhead we first had to hike about a kilometre along a wide gravel road to a microwave tower. It was all uphill, but gradual. Much of the ground was still frozen and there was a light layer of ice covering all the vegetation in the open meadow.

Beside the microwave tower there’s then a turnoff for Goldensides. From here the trail meanders through an alpine meadow then up a ridge along the side of Goldensides Mountain. The shrubbery was just starting to change colour, which looked especially scenic against the blue skies.

The trail reaches a junction where there’s a short detour on the right that provides a closer view of a vertical rock column. Continuing onwards, the trail leads up a small ridge to a viewpoint of the surrounding valley with mountains in every direction.

We turned around and headed back to the parking lot. Along the way we had stunning views of the North Klondike Valley and Tombstone Mountain.

We headed to the Tombstone Interpretive Centre where the Beaver Pond Trail (2km round trip, rated easy) is located. The trail mostly follows a gravel path and along a few short boardwalks, passing by a series of wetland ponds created by beavers. There are ten interpretive panels scattered along the trail that explain more about how the landscape was shaped by glaciers, weather, humans and beavers.

We wrapped up our hike around noon, so it seemed fitting to take a break and eat some lunch. We returned to the campground and whipped up something quick to eat. The next two trails we planned to hike were located in the campground and can be combined to form a longer loop. Starting with the North Klondike Trail (3.2km round trip, rated easy to moderate), which can be accessed between campsites 18 and 19. After about one hundred metres there’s a turnoff for the Edge of the Arctic Interpretive Trail, which we planned to hike on the return journey.

The first part of the path winds through a forest of poplars and follows the North Klondike River. The trail then meanders through an open subalpine meadow and along a series of small boardwalks, with impressive views of the mountains in every direction.

The trail ends at a bench. We turned around and headed back towards the campground, but made a small detour to complete the Edge of the Arctic Interpretive Trail (500m loop, rated easy). There are five interpretive panels along the trail that explain more about the subarctic vegetation and types of animals that live in the area.

At this point we were getting tired and the rest of the established trails were longer or more challenging compared the ones we’ve already tackled. So we decided to get a move on and head to Dawson City.


90 thoughts on “Tombstone Territorial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Tombstone looks quite different compared to other places we visited in the Yukon. Without much tree coverage, we really felt the effects from the wind, which made it feel much cooler than it was. But hey, at least we had blue skies and sunshine when it mattered the most – when we were hiking.

  1. kagould17 says:

    Nothing beats autumn hiking, even though real autumn had not arrived yet. The rivers, mountains and trees look perfect on such a blue sky day. I recall those days of camping in the cold weather both in tent and in car. I do not miss them. Thanks for sharing Linda. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet. Even though it was pretty chilly, especially overnight, it was nice to enjoy the display of fall colours in the valley. And hey, at least we got to enjoy some blue skies and sunshine. It’s always tough to camp in the cold. But I’ll take the cold over having to deal with loud campers or the bugs any day.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was pretty chilly and the wind certainly didn’t help, but at least we got to enjoy the blue skies and sunshine, which made the scenery look even more spectacular. It was also neat to see all the shrubbery covered in frost early the next morning. My fingers nearly froze from taking so many pictures.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape looked so different compared to the other places we passed through during our drive along the Alaska Highway. It was incredibly scenic to hike through the open alpine meadows. The only downside was it was also incredibly windy!

  2. wetanddustyroads says:

    It’s nice to stop for a short hike on a long road trip, isn’t it? Oh my, it looks pretty cold the morning of your first hike. But I have to admit, your views of the mountains and fall coloured bushes are beautiful … so I guess it was worth the early start.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      After all that driving, it was nice to spend the day hiking in Tombstone. Even though it was cold and quite blustery outside, at least the sun was shining and the scenery was spectacular. Going for a hike first thing in the morning was a great way to warm-up. Plus it was neat to see all the shrubbery and grass covered in a delicate layer of frost. It was definitely worth the early start.

  3. Diana says:

    Looks very chilly, but very lovely. Honestly, as I was scrolling through the photos I was thinking this could easily be in Colorado. I have some very similar shots from hikes I’ve done here.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m so glad I packed a hat and a pair of mittens! The cold wasn’t too bad, but the wind was brutal. The more you talk about Colorado, the more I want to visit. I’m such a fan of the mountains and hiking through alpine meadows.

  4. Bama says:

    When a Canadian says something is too cold, it must be really cold! I can’t imagine myself, born and raised in a tropical country, surviving in this place. The meadows and the snow-capped mountains look really amazing, though. Your photos beautifully captured the vastness and rawness of the landscape.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! It’s funny because a couple days before we were hiking in shorts and a t-shirt. We felt the cold a lot more here with the wind and given how far north we were. But at least the sun was shining. It was such a beautiful day to explore the trails and admire the scenery. Tombstone is one of the best places to enjoy Canada’s vast wilderness.

  5. ourcrossings says:

    What a fantastic adventure and place, Linda! Especially as the hiking adventure begins well before arriving in the park—it starts on the road trip to it! I don’t think anything comes close to driving the unpaved and all-gravel Dempster Highway which has extremely limited food and gas stations and barely any cell reception. Thanks for sharing, and have a wonderful day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The drive along the Dempster Highway is not for the faint of heart and requires a lot of planning and preparation. We only drove a small portion of it to get to Tombstone. Thankfully the road was in pretty good condition, but apparently it can get real rough when it’s raining outside. We’d love to return someday to drive along the entire stretch of the Dempster Highway as it seems like a great way to experience Canada’s rugged wilderness. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the week. Linda

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Spectacular photos, Linda! We have driven the Dempster from Inuvik and understand about the road! Were you bothered much by mosquitoes or black flies? I’m thinking that it would have been cold enough by then to kill them off. As Allan noted above, I don’t miss camping in tents or the back of my SUV or truck. Did lots of it and enjoyed it, but I’ve given it up. Great post, Linda. Cheers.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s impressive that you’ve driven all the way along the Dempster Highway! We’ve talked about coming back someday to make that drive. It seems like it would require a lot of planning and preparation given how limited services are and how rough the road can be depending on the time of year or weather.

      We didn’t really have any issues with the mosquitoes or black flies while we were in the Yukon. There were quite a few midges when we were in Kluane, but at least they don’t bite. That was one of the benefits of going so late in the season, even if it meant having to deal with cooler temperatures overnight.

      I’m not going to lie, towards the end of the trip I was getting pretty sick of camping! It was tough getting up multiple times throughout the night to use the washroom. Plus my hips were feeling pretty sore.

      • Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

        After working there for years we were always prepared for Northern travelling and carried a bag with us containing a trickle charger, tow rope, jumper cables, other basic tools and vehicle-related necessities such as wiper blades and also extra clothing like heavy duty gloves, socks, extra parkas and blankets. We always carried water, energy bars and other essentials (I used to work search and rescue so I know what to pack). We also used a truck. I would never use a car in the north. We would have been fine had we become stuck in -40 somewhere. Uncomfortable, but fine.

        On our Dempster trip we were stuck for a couple of hours by a grizzly bear parked in the road. He was just sitting there and the road was too narrow to go around him so we had to wait. The worst part was needing to go to the bathroom!

        Glad to hear that the bugs were gone but I understand about the frequent bathroom trips and sore hips. Not great when camping.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I guess you would need to given how remote it is. You certainly sound like you were prepared for the worst just in case anything happened. These are all things we take for granted when living in the city.

        How wild that you got stuck on the Dempster Highway close by a grizzly bear. On one hand I’m sure it was amazing to watch the grizzly from the safety of your vehicle, but on the other hand, you’re kind of trapped inside until it leaves! It makes for a fantastic story though.

      • Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

        We recently deconstructed that winter travel pack (we recently had our truck broken into – both left windows smashed and our pack cannibalised – so it was definitely time). We’re hanging on to our truck in the short term as we’re doing some hiking and photography travel in northern BC and to Haida Gwaii in spring, but after that we’re selling it. Our lives are changing. 🙂

        That bear-in-the-road story is a classic. Cheers.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh gosh, sorry to hear that your truck was broken into. It certainly sounds like you’ve been making some big changes and likely won’t need your winter travel pack anymore. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Haida Gwaii.

        Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Little Miss Traveller says:

    It all looks so picture postcard beautiful Linda and much more fertile than I would have expected it to be. You were very brave to sleep overnight in the cat when it was so cold but with down filled sleeping bags I’m sure you were warm and snug. Getting up must have been hard work though!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s always tough getting up in the morning when it’s cold outside. But at least the sun was shining. And what better way to stay warm than by going for a hike. The scenery in the valley was spectacular and it was nice to see some of the vegetation start to change colour. It was a feast for the eyes (and my camera).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The landscape in Tombstone is breathtaking, even more so with those bright blue skies. We had a wonderful time hiking in the alpine meadows and enjoying the views of the mountains.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. We covered a lot of distance during our road trip through the Yukon, but it was a great way to experience the wild landscape. It was nice to stretch our legs and check out a few of the trails at Tombstone.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! Even those it was a bit blustery and chilly outside, at least the sun was shining and we were able to appreciate the beautiful views. I was surprised at how well signed and maintained the trails were too given how remote this park is. But then again, the vegetation here grows pretty slowly. So once a path has been established, I’m sure it stays that way for a long time.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The landscape in Tombstone looked so different compared to the other areas we visited in the Yukon. I’m glad we got to hike a few of the trails to admire the scenery in the alpine meadows.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s always nice to spend time in nature and enjoy the scenery and the sights. Even though it was a little chilly, at least the sun was shining. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

      • elvira797mx says:

        Always a pleasure visit your blog, Linda. Thank’s for your kindness.
        That sounds great. For chilly chicken soup with onions, garlic, carrots and ginger. Thank’s. Have a wonderful weekend as well!

      • elvira797mx says:

        Thank’s for your comment and constant support, Linda. A bowl of soup is so cozy. I had a pleasant weekend hope you as well.
        Have a wonderful week!
        Keep well.

  8. Ab says:

    What beautiful trails and scenery the two of you visited on this tour. I can’t imagine it being overly crowded on the trails or highways and drives at this time of the year. Some of the scenery looked very otherworldly!

    I can’t imagine sleeping in the car. A friend rented a camper van when she was in Yukon and said it was very comfortable.

    Have you and K played 5 Crowns before? I got introduced to it over the summer by my in laws. You can play with as little as two people and it was a lot of fun!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Yukon doesn’t get too many tourists, which is part of its appeal. It meant we didn’t have to battle traffic or the crowds. I was surprised the campground at Tombstone was full. But then again, we were visiting during the Labour day long weekend and the forecast was calling for nice weather (i.e no rain). Plus it’s a super small campground.

      I actually preferred to sleep in the back of our rental car as opposed to the tent! We rented a larger sized SUV. Once we put the back seats down, our sleeping pads fit no problem. I had looked into a camper van, but because we planned this trip at the last minute, mostly everything was taken and what was available was massive and insanely expensive.

      I haven’t heard of 5 Crowns before. I’ll have to check it out since we both enjoy playing card games and board games. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Wetravelhappy says:

    -3 and camping wow that’s too cold. I haven’t hiked in a long time, the last time was in 2019 when we trekked to volcano crater. It must be so great that you guys are able to do so many of these beautiful hiking adventures. Beautiful photos here once again, Linda, I love the first one the most. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Camping in the cold can be tough, especially first thing in the morning when you have to crawl out of your warm sleeping bag. It was nice to start the day with a hot breakfast and cup of tea. And what better way to stay warm than by going for a hike right away. Even though you haven’t been hiking in awhile, it sounds like your last hike was a good one!

  10. says:

    Blimey, you do seem to like getting out there in the cold. Reminds me of sleeping in my Nan’s spare room as a child in the 1960s when my breath used to turn to frost on the bedroom wall. Worth it for those fabulous views though huh.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It is very Canadian of us to brave the cold after all! And hey, it generally means there are no bugs! It was tough getting out of our warm sleeping bags, but once we got hiking, it wasn’t too bad, especially since the sun was shining. Yikes, I don’t imagine it was very fun to sleep at your Nan’s during the winter!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. The fall is my favourite time of the year and it was nice to get an early glimpse of it up north in the Yukon. The scenery in Tombstone is stunning. I’m glad we had blue skies and sunshine which made all the fall colours look even more vibrant.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Tombstone is incredibly beautiful. Even though it was a little chilly, it was nice to visit early in the fall to see some of the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds in the valley.

  11. wanderwithfaith says:

    It’s good you found somewhere to call home for that night at Tombstone Mountain Campsite. North Klondike Valley and Tombstone Mountain do have stunning views. What an escapade💯

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. I’m so glad we ended up renting a bigger sized vehicle just in case we needed to sleep in it. It sure came in handy when we were in Tombstone since all the campsites were full. The scenery in Tombstone is spectacular. I’m glad we had clear skies to fully appreciate the views. This was such a highlight of our road trip through the Yukon.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. The Yukon is one of the best places to visit to experience the vast wilderness in Canada. It really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly what you want when spending time in nature.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Tombstone looks otherworldly. We were a bit hesitant to drive along the Dempster Highway to get there given how remote it is and how its reputed to be pretty rugged. But thankfully the weather was nice, which made the drive along the gravel road no problem.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. The Yukon is such a great place to experience Canada’s vast wilderness. Tombstone Territorial Park is a bit of a drive to get to, but it’s so worth it for the scenery.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We are Canadians after all! The cold wasn’t too bad, but the wind was brutal, especially since we were out in the open. But at least the sun was shining and the landscape looked lovely. Visiting Tombstone was such a highlight of our road trip through the Yukon. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

  12. Laura says:

    Linda- this photography is some of your absolute best, it truly captures the stunning beauty of this remote region. I love the boardwalk trails and the fragile coating of ice on the vegetation- so exquisite! This adventure of yours has me itching to head north 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. The terrain in Tombstone looked completely different compared to the other places we visited in the Yukon. It’s the furthest north we’ve been and it’s one of the most remote places we’ve ever visited. Despite the cold, the scenery was spectacular. It was also nice to get a sneak peak of some of the fall colours in the valley.

  13. Lookoom says:

    Beautiful pictures! When I went to Tombstone it was a little earlier in the season, there weren’t as many fall hues yet, but the wildness of the landscape was just as spectacular.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I bet the terrain in Tombstone looks incredible regardless of the season. But the nice thing about visiting in the fall, besides the colours, was that there were no bugs. And now that we’ve gotten a glimpse of the scenery, we’d love to drive the entire Dempster Highway someday.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet! It was quite the drastic change in temperature compared to when we were in and around Whitehorse and were hiking in t-shirts and shorts. Despite the cold, the scenery looked spectacular. And what better way to stay warm than by doing some more hiking!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because we were initially planning to go straight to Skagway from Whitehorse and then take a ferry into Juneau for a few days. We ended up cancelling that part of our trip to go to Dawson City and Tombstone Territorial Park instead. I’m so glad we did as this detour was the highlight of our trip. It’s a long drive to get here from Whitehorse, but so worth it. We also really lucked out with the weather, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have made an attempt to drive along part of the Dempster Highway in our rental vehicle.

      • Bernie says:

        Alaska isn’t even in our plans. Our plan is to get as far north as we can in the Yukon so we can stand under the midnight sun! Hadn’t thought about the hikes but definitely will look at stopping at Tombstone.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Good call. We figured we’d save Alaska for a different trip and just enjoy as much of our time in the Yukon as we could. If you are planning on visiting Dawson City, it’s definitely worth checking out Tombstone since it’s relatively close by. It would be neat to drive the entire Dempster Highway, but I think that would require a lot of planning (and time)!!

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