Explore some of most remote corners of Canada with this exhilarating 8-day itinerary around the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Travel overland from the Pacific to the Arctic on scenic highways through the mountains, and along ancient roads made of ice. Meet the First Nations people who call this icy wonderland home, and make sure to keep an eye out for the Northern Lights!

Highlights

  • Admire breathtaking Northern Lights
  • Drive along the scenic Dempster Highway 
  • Dip your toes in the Arctic Ocean
  • Learn about the indigenous cultures of the Arctic
  • Enjoy a homestay with a First Nations family 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Whitehorse Whitehorse
Day 2 Whitehorse to Dawson Dawson City
Day 3 Explore Dawson Dawson City
Day 4 Dawson to Eagle Plains, Visit Tombstone Territorial Park Eagle Plains
Day 5 Eagle Plains to Inuvik Inuvik
Day 6 Inuvik to Aklavik to Tuktoyaktuk Tuktoyaktuk
Day 7 Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik Inuvik
Day 8 Fly from Inuvik to Whitehorse  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Whitehorse

The S.S. Klondike
The S.S. Klondike National Historic Site in Whitehorse

Welcome to the Yukon! Your guide will meet you at the airport and bring you to your hotel downtown. Along the way, you'll gain insight into the city's early pioneering history with stops at the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site, the Old Log Church, and the Log Skyscrapers. Once you reach your accommodations, you'll meet your fellow travelers and review the itinerary and equipment with your guide. 

After your briefing, the rest of the day is yours to explore. Known as "The Wilderness City," there's plenty to do in Whitehorse. Go for a hike along one of its many stunning trails, learn about the city's gold rush history at the MacBride Museum, or get a headstart on your souvenir shopping.

Day 2: Whitehorse to Dawson

Five Finger Rapids
Stop to enjoy views of the Five Finger Rapids

Up until the late 1950s, the only way to travel the nearly 350 miles (550 km) from Whitehorse to Dawson City in the summer was by sailing on the Yukon River for a few days on a large paddleboat like the S.S. Klondike. Today, you'll drive to Dawson through the gorgeous heart of the Yukon in just a few hours. 

Start your morning with a coffee at a lodge famous for its enormous (and delicious!) cinnamon buns, before continuing north on the Klondike Highway. Along the way, you'll pass through several First Nations villages and settlements, including Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, and Stewart Crossing. When you get close to Carmacks, enjoy the panoramic views of the Five Finger Rapids, the most treacherous part of the old river route.

About an hour outside of Dawson, you'll stop at the Tintina Trench viewpoint for a breathtaking look at the Yukon wilderness, including the rugged Ogilvie Mountains. After you settle into your lodgings for the night and have a bite to eat, head out to find the Northern Lights, which can often be spotted right over town.

Day 3: Explore Dawson

Jack London's  famous novel "Call of the Wild" was based on his experiences in Dawson City
Jack London's  famous novel "Call of the Wild" was based on his experiences in Dawson City

Dawson City was the center of the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, when nearly 50,000 gold seekers arrived within a very short span of time, making Dawson the largest boomtown west of Winnipeg at the time. Although the population has since dwindled to a tiny fraction of what it was, the romance of the Old West can still be felt all over this national historic site.

Modern-day miners, hunters, and trappers still roam the town's unpaved streets and wooden boardwalks, and many of its original buildings have been beautifully restored, including the Palace Grand Theatre, the Commissioner's Residence, and the cabins of writer Jack London and poet Robert Service. You'll travel up Bonanza Creek Road to Discovery Claim, where the gold was first found in 1896, before continuing on to the Dredge #4 National Historic Site, a machine built to mine the gold, for another photo op.

Spend the evening discovering Dawson City's small but lively bar scene, where the locals will be happy to tell you more tales of the northern wilderness.

Day 4: Dawson to Eagle Plains, Visit Tombstone Territorial Park

Tombstone Territorial park
Taking in the view at Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster Highway

Get an early start today for your drive along the most scenic route of the trip. The Dempster Highway leads to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories and is the only public road in North America to cross the Arctic Circle.  The gravel highway will take you along some of the most untouched and absolutely stunning scenery Canada has to offer.

Dempster travels through Tombstone Territorial Park, which features jagged mountain peaks, arctic tundra landscapes, and an astounding array of biodiversity. It's an excellent place to spot wildlife like foxes, wolves, and caribou. Stop here for a picnic lunch by a creek and take in the view.

You'll arrive in Eagle Plains in the late afternoon, where you'll rest for the night. Unwind and enjoy your time off the grid —the modest hotel and fuel station here are the only hint of civilization for nearly 200 miles (300 km) in either direction!

Day 5: Eagle Plains to Inuvik

Raise a glass to toast your Arctic Circle crossing
Raise a glass to toast your Arctic Circle crossing

Today you'll cross the line into the Arctic Circle, an event that you'll commemorate with a celebratory glass of champagne. After this special occasion has been marked, you'll continue on through the Richardson Mountains and over the Mackenzie and Peel Rivers to reach the First Nations community of Fort McPherson in the Northwest Territories. 

Fort McPherson is known as the final resting place of the Lost Patrol, a group of Mounties who got lost in the frigid wilderness in 1911 and met a tragic end. It was also a trading post where the Hudson's Bay Company — once the largest fur trading business in North America — would buy furs from the First Nations people.

Next, we'll continue on to Inuvik, a relatively new community with a centuries' old history. Inuvik is home to the Inuvialuit, or Inuit, people, who were moved there by the Canadian government in the 1950s when the nearby village of Aklavik began sinking into the sea. You'll take a short tour of the village when you arrive, and after settling into the hotel, you'll have more time to explore on foot in the evening.

Day 6: Inuvik to Aklavik to Tuktoyaktuk

Ice road
You'll travel along an ice road like this one to reach indigenous Arctic communities

Today you'll travel by ice road across the Mackenzie River delta toward the Arctic coast to the remote hamlet of Aklavik. The only way to reach this traditional fishing and trapping community in winter is by driving along a "road" formed out of the frozen waters of the Mackenzie and the Arctic Ocean.

Here you'll find proud Gwich'in and Inuvialuit locals, many of whom refused to be moved to Inuvik and adopted the motto "Never say die." You'll also visit the grave of the Mad Trapper, the mysterious backwoods fugitive who led Mounties on a legendary seven-week manhunt across the Arctic tundra in blizzard conditions.

Then continue along the Arctic coastline to the village of Tuktoyaktuk, where you'll spot little ice mountains called pingos, which grow each year from the annual freeze and thaw. Some are as tall as 330 feet (100 m)! Here you'll be met by Inuvialuit guides who will take you on a tour of their unique hamlet.

Stop at the historic Catholic missionary Lady of Lourdes schooner, Tuktoyaktuk's famous traditional sod houses, and the Ice House — a massive, underground multi-room community freezer carved into the permafrost to store meat. You'll also see the Northern Early Warning radar station, and get a chance to dip your toes in the frigid Arctic Ocean. Tonight, you'll be welcomed into a local resident's home, where you'll get a deeper look at indigenous culture and life in this isolated community.

Day 7: Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik

Immerse yourself in indigenous culture in Inuvik
Immerse yourself in indigenous culture in Inuvik

This morning you'll return to Inuvik, where you'll have the rest of the day to explore at your own pace. Go hiking or snowshoeing along the Boot Lake Trail, visit local gems like the Igloo Church and the Community Greenhouse, or opt for a more adventurous activity like dog sledding or snowmobiling. Don't miss the local delicacies on offer at a popular mom-and-pop restaurant run out of an old school bus, including reindeer chili and Eskimo donuts.

Day 8: Fly from Inuvik to Whitehorse

Say goodbye to the far north!
Say goodbye to the far north!

Say farewell to the Arctic Circle this morning. You'll fly back to Whitehorse today, where you can choose to spend the evening, or continue on to your next destination.