North America's Golden Circle route offers some of the continent's grandest scenery and best wildlife, with opportunities for viewing the Midnight Sun or Aurora Borealis depending on the time of year. With this 5-day adventure tour, you'll travel between Alaska and the Yukon encountering White Pass and Chilkat Pass (and their villages), which were used during the Klondike Gold Rush. You'll also reach Haines by ferry and continue to the edges of Kluane National Park, boasting Canada’s highest peak.

Highlights

  • Get a dose of 19th-century history as you learn about the Klondike Gold Rush
  • Mix up the drive with a scenic train to Skagway and a ferry ride to Haines
  • Photograph mountains, forests, lakes, and wildlife 
  • See the smallest desert in the world, measuring one square mile
  • Take an optional flight over a UNESCO-listed national park for glacier viewing

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Whitehorse Whitehorse
Day 2 Whitehorse to Skagway Skagway, AK
Day 3 Skagway to Haines Haines, AK
Day 4 Haines to Haines Junction Haines Junction
Day 5 Haines Junction to Whitehorse, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Whitehorse

Take a self-guided tour of the S.S. Klondike
Take a self-guided tour of the S.S. Klondike

Welcome to the Yukon! Your adventure begins in Whitehorse, the capital of Canada's northwest city, and the largest city in northern Canada. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel located in the heart of the city, not far from the banks of the Yukon River.

Whitehorse is compact and easy to explore on foot or by vehicle. Check out the streets and pop into one of the cozy cafés and bakeries for a beverage. For a meal, the town offers several great restaurant options including an upscale steakhouse, as well as more casual options ranging from seafood (including local-caught salmon) to Japanese and Mediterranean.

One of the most sought-after Northern experiences, a Yukon vacation offers the Midnight Sun during summer months or the Aurora Borealis cascading across the winter sky.

Day 2: Whitehorse to Skagway

Views on the route to Alaska
Views on the route to Alaska

After breakfast in Whitehorse, you'll get on the road and make your way to Skagway along the South Klondike Highway. Notice the changing scenery as more rounded mountains of the Yukon’s interior valley appear on your approach to Carcross and the Southern Lakes region. The highway traverses some of these elongated lakes before rising over the rugged coastal mountains, further descending into the Alaskan Coast where Skagway and Haines are located.

You'll stop at the smallest desert in the world—the Carcross desert—and have time to explore a charming lakeshore village of the same name teeming with gold-rush and First Nations history. While in the area, you'll also have a chance to admire Emerald Lake, nicknamed 'Rainbow Lake' from the locals due to its sensational coloration.

From this point, it's all about enjoying views of the White Pass—a genuine highlight of this road trip. An optional trip (instead of driving) is to join the famous White Pass & Yukon Route small-track train on the way to Skagway. No matter how you arrive, once you're there, you'll have the chance to stroll the historic streets of this former gateway for stampeders traveling to the Klondike Goldfields.

Day 3: Skagway to Haines

A bear family is spotted on the ferry ride
A bear family is spotted on the ferry ride

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll begin to explore sites along the Chilkoot Trail. Wildlife (especially seals) can often be seen at the mouth of the Taiya River so keep your camera close.

In the afternoon, you'll travel by ferry through the Lynn Fjord to get to Haines—a picturesque fishing village situated on a finger of land between Chilkat and Chilkoot inlets in the canal. Enjoy the sight and scent of thick forests including hemlock and Sitka spruce against the magnificent mountain scenery of Chilkat Pass. With some luck, you'll also spot whales, bald eagles, and giant Alaska brown bears who make this area their home.

Day 4: Haines to Haines Junction

Look for bald eagle soaring in the sky near Haines
Look for bald eagle soaring in the sky near Haines

Leaving Haines after a hearty breakfast, you'll travel by road along the braided banks of the Chilkat River, also known as North America’s best eagle viewing area. After crossing the pristine landscape of Chilkat Pass, you'll go on a short trail that leads to the spectacular Million Dollar Falls. You'll then head for the historic Klukshu Village and First Nation fishing village just past Dezadeash Lake. This area is inhabited during the summer months only and there might be an opportunity to see salmon in the river. If the timing's right, you might be able to taste some traditional bread called bannock topped with some smoked salmon while listening to a local storyteller.

Continue on the road and stop at picturesque Kathleen Lake to stretch your legs and take photos. Today's route ends in Haines Junction along the edges of Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Canada’s highest peak (Mount Logan) as well as the largest non-polar icefield in the world, and a rich variety of bird, plant, and animal life.

Day 5: Haines Junction to Whitehorse

Visitors posing for a photo at the park's entrance
Visitors posing for a photo at the park's entrance

Today, you'll start with a visit to the Kluane National Park Visitor Information Centre for interpretive displays and an audio-visual presentation. Depending on the level of interest, you can also organize a spectacular flight by bush plane over the immense glaciers of the park (optional). This adventure, over a virtually pristine wilderness, is especially spectacular during a clear day.

From here, you'll return to Whitehorse in the early afternoon and transfer to the airport for your departure. 

Map

Map of Alaska & Yukon Summits Road Trip - 5 Days
Map of Alaska & Yukon Summits Road Trip - 5 Days