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Dawson City

Savor a slice of Canadian frontier life

Mention Dawson City to a Canadian, and the image of river beds veined with gold looms large. In 1896, on the outskirts of Dawson City, the discovery of gold ushered in the Klondike Gold Rush. Located in a starkly beautiful region inhabited by the Inuit, Dene, Inuvialuit and northern First Nations peoples, Dawson’s evocative streetscapes — dotted with clapboard buildings and now populated with some 2,000 music-loving, artsy denizens — serves as a compelling and off-beat base for exploration. As well as evocative Gold Rush era-sights, travelers wild at heart can test their mettle on the granite peaks that rise sheer above otherworldly landscapes.

Historic Attractions

Preserved as a National Historic Site, Dawson City’s dirt streets and ramshackle boardwalks still ooze gold rush-era charm. For a brief time in the 1800s, Dawson City was second only to San Francisco for the title of the West Coast’s largest city. Walking tours, conducted by Parks Canada, provide entry to 26 restored buildings and National Historic Sites, including a gold dredge, a riverboat, the Jack London cabin, poet Robert Service’s house, the Palace Theater, saloons and quirky boutiques.

At the Dawson City Museum, a handful of exhibits spotlight the Gold Rush, the Klondike Mines Railway, Alaska’s Native peoples, and the history and geology of the Klondike. Interactive programs are offered daily, including “Camp Cheechacko,” where can visits can learn about mining and then hone their skills.

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Music and Nightlife

During the summer, locals compensate for the long, brutal winters and take every advantage of the midnight sun. Most saloons, lounge bars and pubs in town feature fine live music. As the final frontier before civilization gives way to a harsh wilderness, Dawson City entertains hard core hikers, travelers, eccentrics and miners at local restaurants, bars and cafés.

At the Sourdough Saloon, located in the Downtown Hotel, you can join the “Sourtoe Cocktail Club.” To become a member, you have to drink a libation that contains a human toe; the digit once belonged to a rum runner who lost it to frostbite after being caught in a blizzard in the 1920s. The ghoulish tipple is reportedly the brainchild of local legend Dick Stevenson, who famously declared, “There are strange things done in the Midnight Sun.”

Tombstone Territorial Park

Just shy of 40 miles northeast of Dawson, Tombstone delivers superb hiking and awe-inspiring views of the Yukon’s trademark granite peaks, allowing for close encounters with the region’s staggering wildlife. Extending for some 850 square miles of stark wilderness, the hiking, mountaineering, wildlife-watching and flight-seeing  these parts are simply out of this world. Not for the faint of heart, outdoor recreation here is best suited to hard core hikers and mountain climbers. The Tombstone Interpretive Centre and Campground presents a number of illuminating exhibits that explain the park’s topographical features, recreational opportunities on offer, and fascinating insights into the park’s wildlife protagonists.

For More Information

Dawson City 



Department of Tourism Yukon