Location: 60°-69°N 124°-141°WThe name Yukon comes from the Indian "diuke-on" meaning "clean water". The Yukon Territory is almost twice the size of the United Kingdom.
Situated in the far north-west of Canada, it shares its western border in the Coast Mountains with the U.S. state of Alaska. Mount Logan (5951 m (19,531 ft) in the heavily glaciated Kluane National Park is the highest in Canada. To the north the Territory has a short stretch of coastline on the Beaufort Sea, while in the east the Mackenzie Mountains form the border with the Northwest Territories. The 60th Parallel divides the Yukon from the Pacific province of British Columbia to the south.Encircled by high mountain ranges the Yukon Plateau forms a middle- to high-altitude upland region (mean altitude: 1000 m (3282 ft)), mainly composed of lava-covered, mineral-rich, crystalline rock.Dominating influence over the entire Territory is the Yukon River, 3185 km (1979 mi.) from source to mouth and disgorging into the Bering Sea via an immense 30,000 sq. km (11,580 sq. mi.) delta in Alaska. Having its headwaters in the southern Yukon (Pelly River, Lewes River) the great waterway has a total catchment area of 855,000 sq. km (330,000 sq. mi.). It begins by flowing north through Whitehorse and Dawson City, then along the American Cordillera until, having reached the Arctic Circle, it makes its "big bend" to the west.The Yukon is a gently flowing river, ice-covered from October to May. In summer melting snow causes it to flood. Made famous by the gold-rush at the end of the last century its best-known tributary the Klondike joins the Yukon River at Dawson.The climate of the Yukon is principally determined by the north-south alignment of its mountain ranges, as a consequence of which polar air is able to flow unhindered from the north in winter. This results in bitter winter cold and the lowest recorded temperatures on the North American continent (about 260°C (276°F)).Owing however to the continental-type climate, summers (June to mid-September) tend to be dry and relatively warm, and 20 hours of sunshine a day are not uncommon in these high northern latitudes. The frost period extends from October to April, the transition to summer being comparatively short. In Whitehorse the average minimum temperature in January is 225°C (213°F), the maximum only 216°C (3°F); in summer the corresponding values are 8°C (46°F) and 21°C (70°F) respectively.The Territory is divided into two regions as far as vegetation is concerned, boreal coniferous forest predominating in the south and coniferous tundra in the north. Altitude likewise produces distinct vegetation zones, coniferous and birch forests in the valleys, tundra on the heights. Owing to the permafrost numbers of plant species are relatvely low. The few which are adapted to the conditions have also had to battle hard to re-establish themselves following the retreat of the last (Wisconsin) Ice Age about 13,000 years ago.Prior to the 17th c. any settlement of the Yukon was by the indigenous peoples only. Initial European exploration of the region - later part of the Northwest Territories - was mainly by the Hudson's Bay Company following its foundation in 1670. Around 1850 the demand for furs increased, and not long afterwards, in 1880, the first gold prospectors arrived in the Yukon as yields from the claims in British Columbia began to fall. In 1887 Dawson reconnoitred for the first time the area around the town which now bears his name. These developments led to the Yukon being made a separate district of the Northwest Territories in 1895. When on August 17th 1896 George Carmack discovered fist-sized nuggets of gold in a tributary of the Klondike (Bonanza Creek) the find triggered a gold-rush of unbelievable proportions. Within a few months the population of Dawson City soared to 25,000 (some sources even suggest more than 50,000), and in the boom year of 1898 the Yukon proclaimed itself a Territory in its own right on the strength of its gold finds. Between 1897 and 1904 gold valued at almost 100 million dollars was extracted. From 1905 onwards a decline set in until the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942 gave a fresh impetus to development. In 1952 Whitehorse became the Yukon's administrative centre, replacing Dawson as Territorial capital. 1978 saw the opening of North America's only public road north of the Arctic Circle, Dempster Highway, named after Corporal Dempster who led an expedition there in 1911.Before the influx of white settlers lured by the discovery of gold in the latter part of 1880, those living in the Yukon were mainly Athapaskan Indians who supported themselves by hunting and fishing (the Athapaskans are members of the large Na-Dené language family to which the Navajos and Apaches in the south also belong). Otherwise the only inhabitants were a very small number of Inuit settled on the coast. Although today about 21.4 per cent of the people living in the Yukon are Indians, they constitute just 0.7 per cent of Canada's indigenous population as a whole. Among the Yukon's white population 48 per cent are of British extraction. Today the biggest towns in the Yukon Territory are Whitehorse and Dawson.Transport in the Territory relies on four major highways: the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse, the Campbell Highway, the Klondike Highway (Whitehorse-Dawson; see Klondike) and the Dempster Highway (Dawson-Inuvik, NWT).
Kluane National Park
Kluane National Park is located in a land of mountains and glaciers, in Canada's far north. It is home to huge icefields, forests, grizzly bears, and all kinds of wildlife. Serious hikers and climbers frequent the park.
St Elias Mountains
The ice-covered peaks of the St Elias Mountains can be seen from the Alaska Highway, almost 160 km (100 mi.) away, beyond the Kluane Range (up to 2500 m (8205 ft)).
Dawson City, Canada
Yukon Circle Route
The approximately 1500 km (930 mi.) long Yukon Circle Route makes use of three highways, the Klondike Highway, the Top of the World Highway and the Alaska Highway, each a heady mixture of exciting scenery and historical fascination.
Top of the World Highway
The Alaska Highway stretches 2430 km from Dawson Creek, BC, to Fairbanks, Alaska. It is a major tourist route for independent travelers heading to the Yukon and Alaska.
The Dempster Highway passes through beautiful scenery of unspoiled wilderness. It is the only public road on the continent to go beyond the Arctic Circle, and runs from near Dawson City to Inuvik.
Ivvavik National Park
Located in the northwest corner of the Yukon, Ivvavik National Park is noted for being a calving ground for Porcupine caribous. The park is also unique because it was never covered by glaciers.Do to the remote location the only access to the park is by air.
Address: Western Arctic Field Unit, Box 1840, Inuvik, YK X0E0T0, Canada
The Dempster Highway highway climbs up the slopes of the Richardson Mountains, almost bare of trees and covered in detritus and boulders. After crossing the high land of the Peel Plateau the road descends gradually to the plains of the Mackenzie Delta.
Vuntut National Park
Vuntut National Park covers 4,345sq/km in the northwest of the Yukon. The park protects land which is used by birds, muskrats, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, wolverine, marten, mink, foxes, ground squirrels, lynx, moose, muskox, and numerous other animals.
Address: Box 19, Old Crow, YK Y1A2B5, Canada
Mayo - Binet House Interpretive Centre
Binet House Interpretive Centre in Mayo offers information on the geology of the area including displays on the bedrock, permafrost, and glaciers. The centre also features displays on the history of Mayo complete with historic photos.
Address: 304 Second Avenue, Mayo, YK Y0B1M0, Canada
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