estled in the heart of the Klondike region, Dawson City, Yukon, is a vibrant testament to the Gold Rush era, inviting travelers to step back in time to the late 1800s. This charming town offers a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning wilderness, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and adventure seekers alike. Here’s your ultimate guide to the top things to see and do in Dawson City.

1. Visit the SS Keno National Historic Site

The SS Keno National Historic Site in Dawson City offers a tangible link to the past, where steam-powered sternwheelers once dominated the Yukon River, vital for the transportation of supplies and gold during the Klondike Gold Rush. This particular vessel, the SS Keno, played a crucial role until the mid-20th century, making it a significant piece of the region's river navigation history. Today, visitors can explore the meticulously preserved boat, which rests on the banks of the Yukon River, offering a detailed exhibit that narrates its storied past and the broader history of river transportation in the Yukon.

2. Explore the Dawson City Museum

The Dawson City Museum presents a comprehensive chronicle of the Gold Rush era, housed within the Old Territorial Administration Building. Visitors are transported back to the late 1800s as they wander through exhibits that display the harrowing experiences of miners, the geological context of gold mining, and the resultant societal changes. The museum not only features authentic artifacts, including gold scales and mining equipment, but also interactive displays such as a reconstructed mine tunnel and demonstrations of original mining techniques. It’s an educational experience that vividly brings to life the challenges and triumphs of the Klondike Gold Rush.

3. Explore the Jack London Museum:

Step into the adventurous world of famed author Jack London at the Jack London Museum in Dawson City. This museum pays homage to London's time spent in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, which inspired some of his most famous works, including "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang." The museum houses an impressive collection of original artifacts, photographs, and first edition books that provide insight into London's life and the conditions faced by those who ventured north in search of gold. It’s an inspiring visit for literature fans and history enthusiasts alike, offering a glimpse into the harsh yet compelling landscape that shaped much of London's seminal writing.

4. Stroll Along Front Street

Front Street stands as a preserved snapshot of Dawson City’s bustling heyday, lined with historic buildings that once served as saloons, hotels, and stores during the Gold Rush. Today, these buildings house a variety of local businesses and eateries, but retain their historic charm with false-front architecture and wooden sidewalks. A stroll here feels like walking through a living museum, especially with stops at landmarks like Diamond Tooth Gerties, known for its gambling hall atmosphere and nightly cancan performances, offering a taste of the entertainment miners might have enjoyed after a hard day’s work.

5. Visit the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre

The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre stands as a beacon of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in heritage in Dawson City, offering visitors a profound insight into the First Nations people's culture, history, and connection to the land. The center features exhibits that range from historical artifacts to multimedia presentations, which illustrate the community’s past and present. Guided tours and cultural demonstrations, including traditional music and craft-making sessions, provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the indigenous culture, making it a meaningful stop for anyone looking to grasp the full narrative of Dawson City and its original inhabitants.

6. Hike the Midnight Dome

The Midnight Dome is an essential Dawson City experience, providing one of the best vantage points over the town and the surrounding Yukon wilderness. The hike to the top is moderately challenging, but it rewards adventurers with unparalleled views of the Yukon River, the Klondike Valleys, and, during summer, the mesmerizing phenomenon of the midnight sun. The peak is a popular spot not only for its scenic views but also for its significance to both tourists and locals, who gather here to witness the spectacular northern lights or simply to enjoy the serene landscape that characterizes much of the Yukon.

7. Take a Riverboat Cruise on the Yukon River

A riverboat cruise on the Yukon River offers a relaxing and scenic way to appreciate the beauty of Dawson City and its natural surroundings. These cruises provide a unique perspective of the wilderness that defines the Yukon, with opportunities to see wildlife, historical sites, and the pristine, untouched landscape. The gentle pace of the cruise is perfect for reflection or photography, allowing visitors to absorb the tranquil beauty of the river and learn about the region's history from knowledgeable guides who narrate tales of the Gold Rush and the indigenous communities that have inhabited the area for centuries.

Tips and Things to Know Before Visiting Dawson City:

Visiting Dawson City is like stepping back in time, but to make the most of your journey into this historic Yukon town, here are some essential tips and things to know:

Best Time to Visit: Dawson City experiences long, cold winters and brief, warm summers. The best time to visit is between May and September when the weather is most favorable for outdoor activities and many of the seasonal attractions are open. If you’re interested in experiencing the midnight sun, plan your visit around the summer solstice in June.

Dress Appropriately: Weather in the Yukon can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to dress in layers and always carry some waterproof clothing. Even in summer, evenings can be cool, especially when out enjoying nature or a late sunset.

Transportation: Dawson City is relatively small and can be easily explored on foot. However, if you plan to visit sites outside the town like the Tombstone Territorial Park, consider renting a car as public transportation options are limited.

Wildlife Awareness: The Yukon is rich with wildlife, including bears and moose. When hiking or exploring outside of Dawson City, be sure to read up on wildlife safety tips, carry bear spray, and make noise to avoid surprise encounters.

Respect the Local Culture: Dawson City is situated on the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. Take time to learn about the First Nations culture and history, and show respect for the land and traditions. Visiting the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre is a great start.

Gold Panning: While Claim 33 is no longer operating, gold panning remains a popular activity in Dawson City. Visit the Free Claim #6 on Bonanza Creek where the public can pan for gold free of charge from May to September. Remember, any gold you find is yours to keep!

Accommodations: Booking accommodations in advance is highly recommended, especially during peak tourist season. Options range from hotels and bed & breakfasts to campgrounds and cabins, catering to a variety of preferences and budgets.

Local Events: Dawson City hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Dawson City Music Festival and the Yukon International Storytelling Festival. Check the local calendar to participate in these unique cultural experiences.

Best Day Trips From Dawson City, Yukon:
  1. Tombstone Territorial Park: This stunning park features dramatic mountain landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities to see wildlife like caribou and grizzly bears.
  2. Dredge No. 4: Visitors can tour this massive gold dredge, a relic from the Klondike Gold Rush era that offers a glimpse into the region's mining history.
  3. Klondike River Trips: Companies like Klondike Adventure River Tours offer guided or self-guided river trips and adventures on the Yukon River.
  4. Gold Panning: Visitors can try their hand at gold panning, a quintessential Klondike Gold Rush activity, at sites like Henderson Creek.
  5. Writers' Row: Explore the historic cabins and homes of famous Yukon authors like Robert Service and Pierre Berton.
  6. Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall: Experience the historic 1920s-style casino with can-can shows and gambling.
  7. Dawson City Walking Tour: Take a guided tour through the historic downtown area to learn about the town's Gold Rush past.
  8. Yukon River Ferry: Cross the Yukon River on the George Black Ferry, the only way to get across the river in Dawson City.
  9. Northwest Territories Visitor Centre: Stop by this visitor center to learn about the neighboring Northwest Territories region.
  10. Dog Mushing: Visitors can go dog sledding or learn about the history and culture of dog mushing in the Yukon.
Fun Facts about Dawson City
  1. Dawson City is inseparably linked to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-1899, when it served as a base for thousands of prospectors seeking their fortune.
  2. The town has kept its heritage buildings and has a historic, old west feel, with the entire town designated as a National Historic Site.
  3. Dawson City is known for its quirky attractions, like the Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall, which features singing and dancing can-can girls.
  4. The town has a strong literary history, with the homes of famous Yukon authors like Robert Service and Pierre Berton located on "Writers' Row".
  5. There is no bridge over the Yukon River in Dawson City, so vehicles and pedestrians must use the George Black Ferry to cross.
  6. Dawson City is located in the land of the midnight sun, with 23 hours of daylight during the summer months, allowing visitors to experience the unique phenomenon.

Dawson City is more than just a historical landmark; it's a vibrant community rich with stories, adventure, and breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re panning for gold or soaking in the natural beauty, Dawson City offers a unique Yukon experience that captures the spirit of an era gone by but remembered with fondness.

Discover more about the history and adventures in Yukon's Dawson City with Woke Waves Magazine.

#DawsonCityYukon #YukonTravel #GoldRushHistory #CulturalHeritage #NatureHikes #HistoricSites #RiverCruises #TravelCanada #AdventureTravel #HistoricalExploration

Apr 16, 2024

More from 



View All