Dawson City – a city only in name, is nestled in a valley at the convergence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers.
Dawson City gained notoriety in 1896 when gold was discovered on Bonanza Creek. Within weeks, the population exploded, going from 14,00 to over 40,000. Dawson soon became known as The Paris of the North, and during the year of the gold rush, it remained the largest city north of San Francisco.
For the First Nations people who’d lived on this land for centuries, the gold rush dealt a lethal blow to their traditions and to their way of life.
Dawson City Today
Today, the population of Dawson City is approximately 13,000, but each year thousands of tourists head north, by land, by sea or by air – the majority in the summertime, but those who have done their research realize that the winter holds it own special appeal. The winter months are dark and cold, but what better time to see the multi-colored, dancing northern lights, or take a ride with a mush team – flying down the frozen rivers crossing over blue-green ice-bridges. Dawson is a popular destination for Asians and Europeans, who once in the Yukon, visit again and again.
In the summer, after the rivers break up, tourists can soak up the magic of the north by cruising the rivers; by canoe, by raft, by kayak or by pleasure boat. They can hike for days and days in the mountains and valleys without seeing another human, or they can drive the incredible Dempster Highway, that crosses the Arctic Circle winding north to end in Inuvik, 741 kilometers north east. Hikers and bikers should have some knowledge of the Yukon’s brown and black bears.
Things to Do in Dawson City
If you don’t have a car, (and there isn’t a car rental company in Dawson City), not to worry. Dawson City is a wonderful place to explore on foot. It’s not difficult to imagine you’ve stepped back in time a hundred years; most of the buildings have been preserved, and the raised wooden sidewalks and dirt roads are reminiscent of times past. Saunter past the stately Commissioner’s House, or pop into Klondike Kates for a bottle of Yukon Gold. Later in the evening, play the slots at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, or pan for gold on the Klondike.
Camping in Dawson City
There are several campgrounds in and around Dawson City, but if you want to stay in a hotel, book early as they fill up quickly. Both Air Canada and Air North fly into Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital, and Air North offers a daily flight from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Although only 3191 kilometers (1982 miles) north of Vancouver, British Columbia, it is a two day trip in the winter due to flight connection times.
Experience the Magic of The Yukon
And be warned. Something unusual transpires when people visit Dawson City; they return time and time again, and many of them eventually leave their homes in the south choosing to relocate to this magical northern community.