Often, where we travel dictates how we travel. Some destinations are perfect for choosing a “home base” to explore from. But there are a few locations that we’ve found where booking a camper van or RV is almost essential to truly experience it properly.
Iceland? Definitely need an RV. New Zealand? Can’t do it without one. And now we’ve discovered another place where having an RV drastically enhances your trip; the Yukon.
With its wide-open spaces and dramatically changing landscapes, the Yukon was built for RV trips. Not only is there a lot to see, but everything is connected by absolutely beautiful drives, including the Alaska Highway, the Dempster Highway and the Klondike Highway. It’s hard to keep your eyes on the road!
With only a week to explore, we decided to cram our itinerary chock full of activities, learning a ton about what to do and what not to do along the way.
Our #1 “do”? Rent an RV!
The vehicle we were lucky enough to have on this adventure was the CanaDream Maxi Travel Camper which was an absolute dream to drive and perfect for just the 2 of us.
The camper comes with a Queen bed setup, fully equipped kitchen, plenty of wardrobe space and a washroom/shower. CanaDream also supplied camping chairs, which were fantastic to have.
While learning to drive a camper or RV can require a bit of a learning curve, the Maxi Camper made it super easy, as it was quite similar to the large SUV we drive at home. With it’s high ground clearance and 4wd capabilities, we felt ready to tackle anything the North had to throw at us.
I’ve outlined our week-long itinerary below, which can be used as a rough guide to planning your own Yukon road trip. I’ve included the hikes we did, where we stayed, driving distances, and all the hidden gems we discovered along the way.
Day 1: Whitehorse – Gathering supplies
We picked up our RV at the new CanaDream station located conveniently in Whitehorse.
We didn’t realize that our booking came with a shuttle service from the Whitehorse Airport. I received a phone call as we were on our way to the airport, confirming our flight number and time of landing – a very pleasant surprise!
Whitehorse is the perfect place to ready yourself for a big camping/RV trip. They have outdoor stores, gear rental shops, big grocery stores, bakeries, and just about anything else you could want for the road.
Things we picked up for our trip: an inflatable SUP rental, lots of camping food (smokies and s’mores!), and one last hot meal before our foray into the wilderness. Oh, and lots of mosquito repellent because we had heard numerous times how bad the mosquitos are in July.
From Whitehorse, we headed to our first campground: Caribou RV Park located a short 15 minute drive from town.
Total drive time: 20 minutes
Day 2: Carcross Region – Paddy Peak and Emerald Lake
The Yukon is known for its hiking so we felt like we needed to start the trip off with a big one. Paddy Peak is actually located in British Columbia, but was in all the Yukon hiking guides we picked up and it looked spectacular!
We were met with an ice blue lake with large icebergs floating around on the surface. Purple wild flowers framed the sides and added a nice pop of colour. It was absolutely stunning, but with Paddy being the highest peak in the range, it seemed to create its own weather system and was obscured by clouds the entire time we were there. A beautiful hike nonetheless.
Note: with a 4×4 and enough clearance (basically if you have an ATV), you can actually drive the majority of the road into Paddy Peak. Expect very rough terrain. We obviously did not try this with our CanaDream camper.
Distance: 17.5 km round trip
Elevation gain: 957 m
Round trip time: 6.5 hours
After our hike, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon paddling on Emerald Lake. This is the most photographed lake in the Yukon and for good reason – it’s vividly green, especially from up above! We sent our drone up to capture the magic and I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Where we stayed: Caribou RV Park
Where we ate: Even though we had camping food, we couldn’t resist dining at Wolf’s Den Restaurant which was located very conveniently within Caribou RV Park. Originally, we had popped in to purchase some Yukon beer, but saw their expansive menu and just had to stay!
Total driving time: 2 hours round trip
Day 3: Carcross Region – Carcross Desert and Caribou Crossing Trading Post
While driving to Paddy Peak the day before, we caught glimpses of sand dunes right off the side of the highway and our interest was piqued. Turns out, we were driving past Carcross Desert, one of the smallest deserts in the world.
It’s truly baffling to travel so far North and encounter this natural phenomenon. The sand felt so good on our aching feet as we trekked barefoot across the dunes. With snow capped mountains in the distance, I have to say this is one of the most unique locations we’ve ever encountered!
Sandboarding is a popular pastime at this location and as an avid snowboarder, I was a little disappointed that we hadn’t planned ahead and brought some gear with us!
But I didn’t have much time to be sad, as our next stop involved puppies… husky puppies!
Caribou Crossing Trading Post gave us a little taste of Yukon wildlife, culture and history. There’s everything there from dog sledding, Klondike Gold Tours, an animal museum, old time ice cream parlour, and much more!
We loved our visit here and the staff were extremely knowledgable and friendly.
Where we stayed: Caribou RV Park
Where we ate: Caribou Crossing Trading Post
Total driving time: 1 hour round trip
Day 4: Kluane National Park – King’s Throne Peak
The moment we saw King’s Throne on the cover of a Yukon hiking map, we knew we had to do it. While the stats can be a little daunting, I knew it would be worth it… and I was right. This is definitely one of the most epic hikes we’ve ever done. As crazy as the views were on the way up, nothing could have prepared me for the view at the summit, which happened to be hidden from view until the very last moment.
King’s Throne Peak is a must do if you’re visiting Kluane.
Most people we shared the trail with turned around at the saddle, probably because it was one of the windiest hikes we’ve ever been on.
Hike stats (to the “seat” of King’s Throne)
Distance: 10km round trip
Elevation gain: 548 m
Round trip time: 4-6 hours
Hike stats (to King’s Throne Summit)
Distance: 16 km round trip
Elevation gain: 1,258 m
Round trip time: 6-10 hours
While we had originally planned to paddle on Kathleen Lake after our hike, it was way too windy and we were honestly way too tired to do anything else but crawl into the back of our camper. The second we got to our campground, it started pouring rain which made us feel better about bailing on our plans. We fell asleep to the sound of raindrops on the roof and were both extremely grateful we weren’t tent camping.
Where we stayed: Pine Lake Campground
Where we ate: Frosty’s Restaurant
Total drive time: 2 hours 45 min
Day 5: Kluane National Park – Kluane Glacier Air Tour
With how windy it was the day before, we were a little concerned that our glacier flight on this day would be cancelled. Luckily, we woke up to blue sky and not a stitch of wind.
Heading to Haines Junction Airport, we checked in for our 1 hour glacier flight seeing tour with Kluane Glacier Air Tours. This tour was absolutely mind-blowing and if I could recommend just one thing to do in Kluane National Park, it would be this.
As we flew deep into the mountains, we not only witnessed several incredible glaciers, but caught glimpses of wildlife as well! Our pilot had an incredible eye for mountain goats and we saw over a dozen of them from up above.
Once again, I’ll let the photos do the talking, as nothing I say will do this spectacular landscape any justice.
With our feet safely back on the ground, we decided we had a choice. Stay and explore more of Kluane, despite the increasingly windy conditions and looming rainfall, or return to Whitehorse where the weather looked significantly better.
I have to say this is one of my favourite things about traveling in a CanaDream camper. It is an absolute breeze to change plans at the drop of a hat, without having to cancel and rebook hotels, find a place to stay for the night or feel like you’re stuck in one place. The freedom it gives you to explore at whatever pace you want is unmatched.
In the end, Whitehorse won, and we headed back to explore more of Yukon’s capital city.
Where we stayed: Free RV parking in Whitehorse, near the river/train station. Parking here is limited but this is one of the city’s best kept secrets. Whitehorse on the whole is extremely RV friendly and we had absolutely no trouble navigating the busy streets.
Where we ate: Azhong Noodles, an inconspicuous food truck parked across from the MacBride Museum, which had the absolute best hand-pulled noodles I’ve had (including Asia!)
Total driving time: 2 hours
Day 6: Whitehorse – Yukon Wildlife Preserve, MacBride Museum, Grey Mountain Hike
With our legs still aching from the big hikes we had done, we decided to get our steps in through a much less strenuous activity: the 5km walk around the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, located just 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse.
We were able to observe bison, moose, caribou, foxes, mountain goats and other local animals from a safe distance, as we walked around the absolutely enormous preserve. We learned a few interesting facts, including our favourite one – that the Yukon has twice as many moose as people!
Heading back to Whitehorse, we contemplated doing a short hike, but our legs were still not quite ready. So we decided to indulge in a bit of culture and history at the MacBride Museum. If you’re visiting the museum, definitely plan to spend a couple hours here. It covers everything from the gold rush, the Indigenous way of life, and the events that shaped the Yukon as it stands today.
Feeling hungry, we decided to give the one restaurant everyone had been raving about a try. Klondike Rib & Salmon is located in downtown Whitehorse and we felt like we had stepped back in time to an old saloon in the middle of the gold rush. The food was extremely hearty and the portions were absolutely enormous and by the time we left around 6pm, there was quite the line-up outside. Go early if you can, they don’t take reservations!
While the Kluane and Carcross regions are known for their hiking and incredible views, we thought we would give the hikes around Whitehorse a chance as well. We were more than surprised to discover a unique trail with gorgeous sunset views located very close to the city.
The Cave on Grey Mountain is basically a 1 km hike that goes straight up and is extremely steep. Luckily, the grind is over quickly and the cave offers some spectacular views of Whitehorse below.
Distance: 2km round trip
Elevation gain: 200m
Round trip time: 30 minutes
Where we slept: Our new favourite spot, the free RV parking in Whitehorse
Total driving time: 1 hour
Day 7: Time to head home
Time to pack up and go home! We were very reluctant to end this trip, every single day was perfect and the Yukon absolutely has a special place in our hearts.
The drop-off process with CanaDream was quick and easy and they kindly offered once again to shuttle us back to the airport. I truly don’t think this trip would have been close to what it was had we not had our camper. The freedom, flexibility and convenience made everything so much better and we can’t wait to return for more adventures in one of our new favourite destinations.
This post was kindly sponsored by CanaDream and Travel Yukon. All experiences and opinions are our own.