If you want to see some of the most scenic highways and destinations in Alaska, Northern British Columbia and the Yukon, then driving the Golden Circle is the perfect route. This route can take 4-7 days depending on how long you choose to spend in each destination. Encounter a range of snow covered mountains, majestic fjords, well maintained roads, wildlife, and so much more. The tour can start from Haines, Whitehorse Haines Junction or anywhere in between!
Whitehorse, the wilderness city is the capitol of the Yukon territory and the gateway to an incredible adventure. Whitehorse is the territory’s travel hub with the Erik Neilsen Whitehorse International Airport where visitors from around the world can start their rugged adventures. A trip to the Yukon is not complete without spending at least a day in Whitehorse. Here you have the opportunity to camp at several close by campgrounds.
Some of the major attractions that draw visitors to the city are the Yukon Transportation Museum, Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon Wildlife Preserve, SS Klondike National Historic Site, Yukon Beringa Interpretative Centre, Old Log Church Museum, Kwanliin Dun Cultural Centre and MacBride Museum.
Everything within the downtown core is a close distance away and you are able to walk almost everywhere – even to or from the airport. A stop in Whitehorse would not be complete without eating at a few of their top spots like the Klondike Rib and Salmon, The Dirty Northern and Alpine Bakery.
Kluane National Park
Located in the St. Elias Mountain Range, Kluane National Park is an explorer’s dream. They are roughly half the size of Switzerland, so it is easy to understand why you could spend days in this breath taking park. Filled with 17 of the 20 tallest mountains in Canada, the largest non-polar glacial icefield and North America’s most genetically diverse grizzly population. The campground works on a first come first serve basis so ensure to get there early to get a spot!
There is so much to do in the area but be aware that Kluane National Park is a wilderness national park and only has a road into the campground. If you want to explore the park you either need to hike or a flightseeing tour with Icefield Discovery. Hikes vary from easy short trails to multi-day overnight hikes – there is something for every age and skill level.
If you want to explore Kluane from a bird’s eye view and get the opportunity to see parts of the national park that most will never get a chance to see, make sure to not miss out on a flightseeing tour with Icefield Discovery. Flightseeing tours take you soaring high up in the sky over the mountain range looking for Canada’s tallest mountain, Mount Logan standing close to 6000m tall. Alongside Canada’s tallest mountain you also get the opportunity to see the largest non-polar glacial icefield and if you choose specific packages you can get the opportunity to land on the icefield and get out and discover what it is like to be truly in the middle of no where in the mountains.
Before you leave the area make sure to check out the ghost town of Silver City. Silver City is tucked away just off the highway and you would miss it unless you were looking for it. This former mining town, trading post and home to the Northwest Mounted Police barracks is a really unique place to visit as the place is frozen in time, slowly decaying back into the earth.
Heading south towards British Columbia you leave the Yukon in your rear-view mirror and enter into beautiful British Columbia. Along the way, explore the seasonal First Nations fishing camp as well as Million Dollar Falls. You will drive through one of the most beautiful mountainous scenes as you drive along the outskirts of Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park. Make sure to pull over at some of the many pull overs on the side of the highway to take in the truly remarkable views.
As you continue south make sure you have your passport ready as you will be crossing into Alaska, USA at Pleasant Camp Border Crossing. Once you have entered into Alaska keep an eye out as you get close to the town of Haines, a rushing river will appear on the right-hand side of the road – this is the Chilkat River Flats. The Chilkat River flats is a critical and protected area for bald eagles. This is an incredible spot to pull over with your binoculars and observe them in their natural habitat.
The town of Haines is super charming and you should spend sometime walking the streets in this postcard worthy town. If you want to possibly see some grizzlies catching salmon in the stream, head over to Chilkat State Park where it is very common to see grizzly bears in the act trying to catch their meal throughout the summer. Make sure to be bear aware and bear smart while in this area. Your next destination requires you to get on the ferry and head over to Skagway, Alaska. The scenic ferry ride gives you a beautiful look at the mountain range as you cruise north up the Chilkoot Inlet, one of the many fingers of the Pacific Ocean.
Skagway was one of the many towns that saw prospectors from all across North America come to try and find gold during the Klondike Gold Rush. Skagway was the entry town where miners would head north on the gruelling Chilkoot Trail to Bennett Lake and then onwards up the Yukon River to Dawson City. If you are up for a multi day overnight hike, you can take the same route the old-timers did by heading to the Parks Canada office in Skagway to get your trail permit.
This gold rush town is frozen in time and has many buildings looking very similar to how they did over 100 years ago. Make sure to take a visit to the Red Onion Saloon – a place to get great food and experience one of the historic brothels. One of the biggest highlights in Skagway is the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. This railroad was built with the sole purpose of servicing the Klondike Gold Rush and would travel all the way to Whitehorse to bring supplies and hopeful prospectors to the gold rush.
If you have time before you continue on your journey, head over to Dyea to see the start of the Chilkoot Trail that thousands of brave men hiked during the gold rush and many follow in their footsteps to this day. Dyea is truly a ghost town from the gold rush days as with only a handful of people living here now, it is largely considered abandoned. This forgotten town is home to a stunning Flats where the tide comes in and out on the beach. It is the perfect place to have a picnic, spend some time watching the cruise ships leave port or to enjoy a magnificent sunset.