I always have a ton of things I want to do every summer, and it seems like I never have time to do them all. There are countless things we can do here in the north, being surrounded by so much wilderness and having such a sparse population. My list is always huge, and this is more a guideline this year than an actual checklist, because I find checklists just don’t work for me in the summer months. Not when it comes to actually doing everything on them.
Anyway, this list might come in handy for anyone who is looking for something fun to do this summer, or for anyone who might be visiting the Yukon at all this year. I know all of these things can be done pretty much anywhere, but I will be speaking more about the Yukon in particular for this post. It’s where I am, and where I will be spending most, if not all, of my summer this year. (The Yukon is the northwestern territory of Canada, you know, the one right next to Alaska. You can find out more about our amazing territory by searching Yukon Territory on Google or by clicking this link.)
1. Go hiking. There are so many hiking trails here that it’s probably impossible to do all of them in a single summer. I tend to use this site to find really awesome trails if I don’t already have one in mind. They update fairly regularly with new trails, and they have all the information you could possibly need for each trail they upload. There are enough trails here to keep a hiker busy for years. We try to do several of the ones from that site every year, but the last few summers have been too busy. Hopefully this year we can do one every week or two.
2. Go camping. Another outdoorsy thing, and another thing I make time for whenever possible. I grew up pretty much living in the woods as a kid, so for me, camping is like a way of resetting myself. I’ve been camping in the sunshine, rain, and even snow, and nothing has deterred me yet. One of my favourite campgrounds here in the Yukon, and there are plenty of them, is the one in Tombstone. The scenery is unbeatable, the campground is small (which means fewer neighbours), and there is a river that runs right alongside of it, with a trail that follows it right into the valley.
Last year we picked berries with our little dog while watching a cow moose eating her dinner with her young one only 40 or so feet away for almost an hour. There are a lot of bears in the area, but there are bears all over the Yukon, so that’s just normal.
*Please keep in mind, these campgrounds are territorial, and are monitored. They don’t tolerate parties or noisy campers, so please be respectful if you do visit.
3. Road trips. There aren’t many roads here in the Yukon, but they do offer some amazing sights. There are short road trips that will only take a couple of hours, and then there are longer ones, like the drive from Whitehorse to Inuvik, NWT, which take a couple of days if you’re actually stopping to enjoy the scenery. This, by far, is my favourite drive in the territory. It’s a long one, but it’s worth it. You get to see so many different types of land, it’s just gorgeous. Plus it includes driving so far north that you almost hit the Arctic Ocean, and you go past the Arctic Circle. Bucket list items, anyone?
4. Swimming. And boating. Just water stuff in general. We have so many amazing lakes here, a lot of them close to Whitehorse, or still in city limits. There’s also the Yukon River, which runs right through Whitehorse and up into Dawson City. I myself have never done this, but a lot of people canoe this route every summer, taking several days or more to slowly drift down the river. As for swimming, you can go swimming almost anywhere here, and one of my favourite places is only 20 minutes south of town and down a dirt road. The water is clear, blue and green, and as of last summer there was even a floating picnic table with oars so that you could be out on the lake enjoying the sun and still be on the lake.
5. Go to a music festival. I swear it’s like there’s a different one almost every weekend here in the warmer months. Dawson City holds one of the big ones, the Dawson City Music Festival. There’s also one in Atlin, BC that is really popular, and it’s only a short drive south of Whitehorse. In Whitehorse we have Sunstroke, which happens for summer solstice every June. Basically, there’s no shortage, because I’ve only just touched on them here. Plus, if you try to hit all of them in a summer, you’ll see most of the Yukon, anyway.
6. Go off-roading. This is something I’ve always loved, and there are plenty of places to do it. You just have to make sure you have the right vehicle for it, otherwise you might get stuck in a massive lake or creek that’s taken over the trail, or maybe in our Yukon dirt, that clay that seems to be everywhere and just suck in whatever tries driving through it. This is another thing you don’t have to leave city limits to do, though. And it is so much fun.
7. Fishing. You need a license for this. They aren’t expensive, and they’re available at a lot of gas stations and convenience stores. And not all lakes and streams are okay to fish in. There’s a book you can get for free that shows you what is and isn’t okay for this. I used to fish from the Yukon River as a child, bringing home too many fish for my family to eat in a summer, but there are a lot of other places you can go. Check out the book for the listed lakes, and follow the laws. (I know I sound like a stickler, but it’s not that hard to remember the rules for fishing here once you know them. And I’m sure there are laws everywhere.)
8. Biking. Okay, so biking is a pretty big thing here. We have listed trails for bikers, and there are bike relays that happen here every year. Mountain biking, road racing, whatever it is you like, you can do it here. The Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay takes place every June and goes from Haines Junction, YT to Haines, Alaska. I’ve gone as support for friends for this, handing out water bottles and whatnot, and it’s amazing. The drive alone takes a few hours, but it takes pretty much all day on bike. And you don’t need to be an experienced cyclist to do it. And the scenery is to die for. It passes through the amazing mountain ranges in the south-western corner of the territory and into a gorgeous river valley in southern Alaska.
9. Stay up all night. We are called the land of the midnight sun for a reason. Even here in Whitehorse, it doesn’t get fully dark during the summer months, but the further north you go, the shorter the nights get. One of my favourite things to do in the summer is stay up to watch the sun rise, because it rises in the middle of the night anyway depending on where in the territory you are. Or you know, it might not set at all.
10. Watch the northern lights. Yes, I did just explain that it doesn’t quite get dark here in the summer, but at the beginning or end of the season, it does get dark. And I’ve found that it’s the most enjoyable time of the year to watch the lights. It’s warm enough that you won’t freeze outside for long periods of time, but it’s dark enough to see them in their full glory. No, they aren’t out every night. But they do show themselves fairly often, and it’s worth watching. There’s nothing quite like it.
I’m sure there are plenty of other things I can add to this list, but I think it’s long enough for now. I’ll be adding more posts like this in the future, anyway, which means I’ll probably be sharing things I do this summer with all of you. Speaking of, I’m off to go check out a potential gold claim location with my best friend and our dogs. 😉