Window to the world: Yukon
November marks the start of the aurora season in most countries, with some tourist locations across Scandinavia not fully running tours until December. In the lesser known region of Yukon in northwest Canada, however, you can sometimes start seeing the magnificent displays as early as September.
Explore snow-capped mountains, scenic views, pristine lakes, glaciers and hot springs, while increasing your chances of bearing witness to one of the greatest shows mother nature has to offer. If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list but you’re looking to escape the crowds, then Yukon is the place for you. It’s right next to Alaska, and November is a great time to go as you’ll catch the right sort of snowy temperatures before things get savagely subarctic in January and February, when it can drop to -22C on average.
Peace and quiet
The locals are proud of the fact that there are more moose in Yukon than there are people. It has the smallest population of any province in Canada, with 40,000 people living spread out across a territory the size of Spain. It may sound remote, but it’s the untouched nature of this Canadian territory that makes it such a hot spot for catching the elusive Aurora Borealis. With ideal, unpolluted conditions, you’re much more likely to see the mesmerising shades of greenish light flickering across the sky.
Experience the culture
Most of the population live in Whitehorse, the capital where you’ll find live theatre, festivals, markets, galleries, museums, restaurants and small shops.
Every year, Yukon hosts the hardest and most extreme international dog sledding race on earth, the Yukon Quest, which spans across 1,000 miles over frozen rivers, mountain ranges and isolates northern villages and lasts 10 – 20 days. One of the race’s key objectives is to encourage self-sufficiency among the racers, ensuring that vital survival skills and knowledge of the terrain are learned, honoured and passed on.
Hunting for gold
With a fascinating history of gold rushes and indigenous First Nations heritage, there’s more to this pristine wilderness than you’d initially assume. Gold was first discovered there in 1896, which led to tens of thousands of prospectors flooding the region. They battled treacherous conditions travelling north along the Pacific coast and then made the ascent across the rocky and icy Chilkoot Pass summit. It was a hard life, with a few fortunate minders striking it lucky but many living a cold and isolated existence. Within a decade, prospector numbers dwindled to a few hundred, but fast forward to the present day and gold mining is still the economic mainstay of the region.
Experience nature at its best
Yukon is home to Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, and the mighty Yukon River which stretches for over 3,000 km though national and territorial parks. It’s a natural habitat for a range of impressive species, such as bears, wolves, caribou, moose and much more.
Perfect for the intrepid explorer, you can fill your days with hiking, canoeing, ice fishing, boat tours, rafting and dog sledding, before heading back for a night of sky watching from a hot tub or lodge window.