Named after the White Horse Rapids of the Yukon River, Whitehorse is the capital and largest city of the Yukon Territory. First settled during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s, after completion of the railway this small settlement became the transportation hub in the region. By the 1940s, Americans began pouring into the city to begin work on the Alaska Highway, which would run through Whitehorse and connect Alaska to the continental U.S. A decade later, when the population of Whitehorse had doubled, the city was designated the capital of this remote Canadian province.
Start your exploration of Whitehorse at the Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre. In addition to travel information, the Centre offers a breathtaking overlook of the Yukon River. From here you can take a short hike on the Millennium Trail, a short loop that takes you from downtown Whitehorse along the Yukon River. You can also take the longer loop along the Yukon River Loop Trail, which extends beyond the Millennium Trail and into Miles Canyon. You could also hop on the Waterfront Trolley for a fast, convenient and scenic ride along the Yukon River; the trolley makes numerous stops along its route so riders can visit downtown shops and museums along the way.
One of the top attractions in Whitehorse is Miles Canyon, located 10 minutes west of downtown. Miles Canyon has numerous, winding hiking trails and a suspension bridge, allowing visitors to take in scenic views over the river and from atop the canyon. For a closer look at the Yukon River itself, take a trip on the MV Schwatka riverboat, which runs through Miles Canyon and is accompanied by a narrated history of the area. After your river ride on the Schwatka, visit the SS Klondike, one of the largest surviving riverboats to travel the Yukon in the early 1900s. The Klondike is now permanently dry-docked beside the river and offers tours to visitors.
To explore Whitehorse from a historical perspective, visit the MacBride Museum to learn about the history of both the city and the Yukon Territory as a whole. For a purely native pursuit, the Kluane Museum of Natural History and Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre display art and artifacts of the Southern Tutchone people.
Whitehorse offers visitors plenty of shopping options near the historic Whitehorse waterfront. Goldsmiths is a small design studio selling unique and custom jewellery and metal art, while the North End Gallery features Klondike jewellery and Yukon crafts such as antler sculptures and woven baskets. Mac’s Fireweed Books has been open since 1949 and specialises in the exciting history and culture of the Yukon .
For those seeking entertainment, visitors can check out the Frantic Follies, a nationally-famous musical revue staged all summer in the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel. If you are planning a trip to Whitehorse in February, be sure to check out the weekend-long Frostbite Music Festival, which is quickly becoming one of the top draws in Whitehorse, attracting musicians and entertainers from all over Canada.