Dawson City is the embodiment of Yukon adventure. Even the journey to get here is exciting – drive through virtually untouched forest and awe-inspiring mountains (be sure to switch drivers so you can both take in the scenery!). Or fly over it all for views that cannot be matched.
Once you’re here, the excitement really begins. Dawson City was the heart and soul of the Klondike Gold Rush, which means our original founders were fearless (and maybe a little bit crazy) prospectors working hard to live their dreams. Take a page from their book and try something outside your comfort zone. To help you along, we’ve compiled a list of eight truly adventurous activities from the city with a heart of gold.
Visit Tombstone Territorial Park
Tombstone Territorial Park is the best place to begin your voyage into the wilderness. A gorgeous 90-minute drive from Dawson will transport you to the Tombstone Interpretive Centre, where you can start a day hike into rugged mountains, permafrost landforms and rare wildlife. Before you venture into the wild, prepare for sudden changes in the weather, and be sure to tell someone where you’re going every time you hike.
Just one day of hiking here will make you appreciate the power and beauty of nature. It is truly an unforgettable experience and you’ll emerge both empowered and humbled.
Thaw di Gras
Thaw di Gras is a celebration of the coming of spring, Yukon style. This unofficial long weekend in March is the best taste of the local community you can get. With activities ranging from axe throwing to tricycle races and snow sculpting, the whole family can let go of inhibitions and revel in springtime.
Bombay Peggy’s Pub
Give your moral compass a break and spend an evening at Bombay Peggy’s Pub, the only restored brothel in the Yukon. Order one of their seductively themed martinis or go for a fine-malt scotch or microbrew to quench your thirst.
Every February, the toughest athletes on four legs trek across 1,000 miles of tundra between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska. These incredible competitors are sled dogs, of course, and the race is the Yukon Quest, one of the longest dog sled races in the world. Dawson City is the midway resting point for the tough pups and their mushers, giving locals and tourists a chance to support these tough sportsmen.
Klondike Valley Mud Bog
In August, locals come together under the Moosehide slide for an incredibly loud and exhilarating afternoon of sliding in the mud. Using anything from monster trucks to homemade vehicles or ATVs, drivers attempt to cross this valley of mud in one piece. Bring your earplugs and your yelling voice to cheer on these daring souls.
Yukon River Quest
The Yukon River Quest is an epic challenge for the explorer in you. The world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race travels 444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City in June. Most people who enter this race do it with the aim to simply finish, which is no easy feat. This 2-3 day journey is an extraordinary experience in teamwork and perseverance. If you’re not up for joining a crew, come join the rest of us local observers and cheer on the teams at the finish line!
Jack London’s Cabin
Jack London wrote White Fang and The Call of the Wild, both set during the Klondike Gold Rush. Jack London was quite the thrill-seeker himself, traveling to Dawson City for inspiration for his books. Come visit the cabin he lived in while writing his famous novels. Learn about the author, and get inspired to scribe your own adventure story.
Yukon Gold Panning Championships
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a prospector? Give your skills the ultimate challenge in the Yukon Gold Panning Championships, held in Dawson every July. Normally, panning for gold is a time-consuming process, but not for these champs! Competitors come from around the world to extract a certain amount of gold flake from a bucket of dirt. The winner is crowned as the fastest Yukoner and gets to compete in the World Gold Panning Championship, held in a different location every year. Yup, this is serious business, and not for the faint of heart!
Dawson may be a small town, but we have enough thrill-seeking opportunities to satisfy even the most adventurous souls. Whether you plan your own expedition or cheer on the locals, a visit to Dawson City is a quest you’ll never forget.