Things to Do in Yukon
At first it’s hard to imagine, but the turquoise water that peacefully flows through Miles Canyon once posed a formidable challenge for gold rush stampeders trying to find gold. A dam now controls the surge of the waves and the water gently laps against the multi-colored cliffs of volcanic rock. The Robert Lowe Suspension Bridge gives you a bird’s eye view of this historic site. It’s become a serene getaway, but in the past hundreds of boats sank here, hammered by powerful waves, and smashed against the unforgiving cliffs. Eventually a wood railway system was built to bypass the dangerous river crossing.
Named for its intense shades of emerald green water, it’s no big surprise that Emerald Lake is considered a must-see destination along Yukon’s southern Klondike Highway. It’s easy to access, too, as it’s literally best viewed from a roadside pullout just 12 kilometers north of Carcross.
Unlike many lakes in the Canadian Rockies that are colored jade-green by glacier silt suspended in the water, Emerald Lake’s brilliant color comes from beneath its crystal-clear waters. A layer of white ash, deposited after a huge volcanic eruption nearly 1,500 years ago near the Yukon and Alaska border, reflects light in varying intensities depending on both depth and time of day. The result is an ever-changing liquid landscape set amid the spectacular mountains of the southern Yukon.
Carcross has quite the history. This small Tlingit and Tagish First Nations community became a boomtown during the Klondike gold rush, acting as a stopover and supply center for prospectors hoping to strike gold in the Yukon. As the gold rush waned, the White Pass Railway connected the small town to Skagway, Alaska, instantly making it a major transportation hub.
In more recent years, Carcross has reinvented itself as a tourism destination, celebrating stunning wilderness, aboriginal culture and its gold rush past. Situated on Nares and Bennett Lakes, the area is naturally stunning. Caribou still roam the nearby hills, and the Bennett Train Journey on the White Pass Railway, now considered the “Scenic Railway of the World” is back up and running. The Caribou Hotel is now a Yukon Historic Site and the Matthew Watson General Store, located along the town’s main street, is the oldest operating store in the Yukon
More Things to Do in Yukon
The spirit of the Klondike gold rush is still thriving at the Caribou Crossing Trading Post, where it’s not only still possible to pan for gold but also actually find some. Visitors almost always strike gold while also learning about the history of the famous rush and the nearby Chilkoot Trail from an interpretive tour guide. And gold panning is just the start of the fun at Caribou Crossing, as it is home to a pack of barking Iditarod Dogsled Race veteran huskies, each teeming to pull visitors around on a dog-kart tour. It’s also possible to spend time with small puppies, all but the youngest of which are already training to become future competitors. This roadside stop has plenty of other worthy activities to break up a drive on the Klondike Highway between Skagway in Alaska and Whitehorse in the Yukon, including a wildlife museum that spans the ages from the time of woolly mammoths to modern day muskoxen.
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