Yukon’s pristine wilderness

By | Category: Travel destinations

2012 Yukon River Quest challengers

As we approach the time of year when the daylight is at its longest, there are places where daylight lasts almost continuously. This means there are long times of the year when there is no daylight to speak of so visitors have to take advantage of these long summer days to see as much as they can. Similarly locals take this advantage to hold many of their festivals and celebrations.

The Yukon in northern Canada is one of those places and in June and July there are attractions for the traveller, not the least of which is the opportunity to see the landscape at its best. It is at its best because 80% of the Yukon is pristine – untouched century after century by man.

Situated in the upper Northwest corner of Canada, next to Alaska, the Yukon is Canada’s most accessible northern destination. There are 15,000 feet mountain peaks including Mt Logan – Canada’s highest peak -, forested valleys and unspoiled waters. This has provided a haven for wildlife so there are more than 160,000 caribou, 70,000 moose, 22,000 mountain sheep, 6,000 grizzly bears and 220 species of birds yet only 34,000 people to encroach on their habitat.

Late June is when two of the key summer events take place. The Yukon River Quest is 444 mile canoe and kayak race that has attracted 66 teams from around the world this year. They will paddle the course with just small rest periods be it day or night although only a watch will tell them which is which. As they paddle they will go through some of the most beautiful, unvisited scenery that many of them will ever see. The urge, for me, would be to slow down or even stop and just stare and enjoy rather than think about winning.

But if I wanted to absorb the culture of the few who live here, I might journey to Whitehorse – the capital of the Yukon – for the Jun 21 2013 Adäka Cultural Festival. This celebrates the legacy and culture of what is known in Canada as the First Nations. This is the name given to those indigenous peoples that predate the Inuit so there are peoples such as the Squamish and the Iroquois. In a week in late June a festival that includes dancing, traditional music as well as modern music that has been influenced by the traditional will take place.

But the Yukon is also remembered for the gold rush there so perhaps I’ll just emulate an ancestor of mine who went over there and join others in Dawson City on July the first for the Yukon Gold Panning Championships. I might be luckier than he ever was!

For more information, click here.

Image © Yukon River Quest 2012

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