Canada's Yukon is one the world's last great wildernesses, where bears, moose and caribou roam. It's a place where hikers, paddlers, skiers and mushers can travel for days without seeing another human soul, where the northern lights dance green and red across starry skies, and where glaciers tumble, mountain peaks soar, and tundra shrubs scream scarlet as summer turns to fall.
Bradt's Yukon is the only guidebook dedicated to this natural and historical wonderland. Offering practical advice on everything from where to pan for gold to how to avoid being eaten by a bear, alongside quirky anecdotes (such as the story behind the 'sourtoe cocktail' – a shot of whisky garnished with a severed human toe), it's the perfect companion for highway drivers, cruise-ship passengers, and outdoors enthusiasts alike.
The Yukon is one of those places that many people have heard of, but nobody’s quite sure where it is. Many seem to think it’s in Alaska (it’s not – Alaska is a US state while the Yukon, with which Alaska shares a border, is a territory of Canada); others ask, ‘But isn’t that a river?’ (Answer: yes, there’s a Yukon River, but it’s a territory as well.)
And so to clarify: the Yukon is a vast expanse of wilderness little touched by human hands. Perched up in the far northwest of Canada, it’s almost twice the size of the UK and nearly as large as the US states of California and West Virginia stuck together. It has just 31,000 inhabitants and 25,000 of those live in the capital, Whitehorse. But, while there may not be many humans, the Yukon is home to grizzly and black bears, moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep, bison, elk, mountain goats, wolves, wolverines, lynx and many species more.
It’s also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. It’s not just the scenery – though that is spectacular enough. (Those readers who examine this book carefully will find that I’ve had tremendous difficulty finding sufficient adjectives to describe its splendour.) I think it’s the Yukon’s stillness, its serenity and the vastness of its unpopulated places that make a visit here such an extraordinary experience. Add to that the sighting of a grizzly bear that sashays across the highway in front of your vehicle with her cubs, or a moose who nonchalantly chomps through roadside foliage; an unexpected glimpse of northern lights creeping up from horizon and dancing green across night skies; the sound of a sled dog’s paws on snow; the taste of a simple, slightly smoky cup of tea as you sit by a campfire after a hard day’s hiking many miles from the nearest human settlement – these simple and almost silent pleasures have an intensity that the noise and bright lights of a city can never, in my opinion, match.
Since my first visit to the Yukon I’ve travelled extensively across the far north, from Siberia to Greenland to Alaska. I love the light and the tranquility of these remote parts. But it’s to the Yukon that I’ve returned time and again, and to which I will continue to travel. And I hope that this book will inspire you to go there to – and to be touched by the magic of this huge, quiet place that has so affected me.