The Golden Circle is the name given to the popular touring route that starts and finishes in Whitehorse: the capital city of Canada’s Yukon Territory. This 600-kilometre journey will take you through some of the most breath-taking scenery in Canada and Alaska, including a ferry journey on the spectacular Taiya Inlet. Regardless of whether you travel in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, you’ll want to allow yourself at least a week for the entire journey to ensure that you’ll be able to soak up all the highlights along the way.
The Klondike Highway is one of the region’s great highways, stretching more than 700 kilometres from Dawson City in the north, crossing into Alaska to finish at Skagway. The route itself is spectacular, passing forest-fringed lakes such as the aptly-named Emerald Lake and the world’s smallest desert at Carcross. Stop for ice cream at Canada’s oldest store on the shore of Bennett Lake before continuing over historic White Pass to descend into Skagway.
The town of Skagway has a population of just 1000 permanent inhabitants, but it attracts more than 700,000 visitors each year, thanks to its location on the Alaska Marine Highway and its role in the Klondike gold rush era. Ride the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, take a free walking tour through the historic streets and sample freshly-caught local seafood before boarding a ferry to sail down the fjord to Haines.
Anyone with an interest in seeing Alaskan wildlife in its natural habitat will find heaven in and around Haines. On the water, watch out for whales, seals and sea lions; onshore in Haines, a visit to the Kroshel Wildlife Center is a refuge for orphaned animals of all varieties, ranging from moose and porcupines to wolverines and even a Kodiak bear. As you leave Haines, you’ll pass through an important bald eagle habitat, so keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars ready.
The tiny town of Haines Junction has a spectacular setting on the edge of a vast wilderness area, with the dazzling peaks of the Saint Elias Mountains forming a jaw-dropping backdrop to your stay. The town is gateway to Kluane National Park and Preserve which is home to one of the most-concentrated populations of grizzly bears in North America, but it’s also a great spot to indulge in white water rafting, hiking and scenic glacier flights. If you’re interested in learning more about the customs and traditions of the local First Nation people, a visit to the town’s Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Da Kų Cultural Centre is a must.
From Haines Junction, it’s a two-hour drive back to Whitehorse to close the loop on this most stunning of self-drive itineraries. For further details or to book your own Yukon adventure, talk to your personal travel manager.