Known as the town that froze in time, Canada’s Dawson City in Yukon Territory resembles a movie set, with its elaborate dance halls, wooden boardwalks, and historic buildings harking back to the late 1800s, when 100,000 prospectors sought their fortunes during the Klondike Gold Rush. While the thrill of gold-panning and turn of the century architecture is to be expected in this town of fewer than 2000 residents, you’ll be surprised by the incredible outdoor adventures and inspiring cultural landmarks found in this unique destination. Here are five Dawson City experiences not-to-be-missed.
1. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, Canada’s oldest casino, embodies the wagering spirit and friendly hospitality of the Klondike period. Complete with can-can dancers in full costume and an illustrious singing master of ceremonies, visitors to Gertie’s can enjoy a drink, play blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold’em Poker, and relive the gold rush hey days in this 1901 turn-of-the-century building.
2. An hour’s drive from Dawson City is the rugged Tombstone Territorial Park, with its permafrost topography and stunning carpets of tundra. Spend a day hiking through the diverse ecosystem and be humbled by this astounding wilderness. Don’t miss the excellent exhibits at the Interpretive Centre, describing flora, fauna, the region’s geological science and First Nations culture, along with first-hand hiking tips from experienced staff. Can’t tear yourself away from Dawson? Take advantage of 24 hours of sunlight during summer and hike the hills surrounding the township. Make your way to the Midnight Dome, for panoramic views of Dawson and beyond.
3. Dawson City has more than its fair share of famous authors. Step into the world of literary giants, Jack London, Pierre Berton and Robert Service. Get inspired by the adventurous Jack London, famous for his legendary short stories and books set during the Klondike Gold Rush (The Call of the Wild and White Fang) at Jack London’s Cabin and Interpretive Centre. Next stop: the rustic Robert Service Cabin pays tribute to a man whose poetry greatly contributed to the history of the Klondike era. Known as the Bard of the Yukon, the colourful verses of Robert Service brought the Klondike experience alive for millions around the world and put the Canadian North on the map.
4. Take a walk on the wild side at Yukon’s only restored brothel, Bombay Peggy’s. Choose from the elaborate martini menu or kick back with a micro-brewed beer, and enjoy the live music. Spend the night at the quaint inn and soak up the ambience created by the Victorian décor, antique furnishings, and contemporary art adorning the walls.
5. Dawson City is the halfway point for the annual Yukon Quest, an epic sled dog endurance race spanning two weeks and 1600 kilometres between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska. Plan your stay for early February to witness the race, and meet the dog mushers and their hard working canines during the stopover in Dawson City. Want more? Visit Canada’s first and largest dog mushing museum at Slow Rush Kennelsand experience a guided winter dog mushing tour. Feel the power of 12 sled dogs as they drive you through snow-laden Yukon bush trails and across the frozen Yukon River.
Visit the Klondike Visitors’ Association at www.dawsoncity.ca