Dawson City: Located at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike rivers, this town embodies the gold rush days from which it was born. Vibrant, eclectic, and a bit gritty, here the glory days of the past live on in the dirt streets, architecture, and residents.
This town is home to just over 1300 people, although many do not stay through the winters and summer is a good time to visit. There is so much to see, do eat and drink here and after passing through the town twice before, we finally got some time to take in this unique community during the last week of July 2019.
A Brief Background
The town was formed when a gold strike was made on the Klondike River in 1896 and people from all of the world started to flood in. Mine claims were staked all over this area and Dawson boomed!
The gold mining of the area has had many phases over the years and still is ongoing to this day, but the most notable era of mining was the days of the dredges that operated on the rivers and creeks and have left a unmistakable mark on the landscape in the interestingly shaped tailing piles that can be seen alongside the roads and from the air.
Here are 10 things you definitely don’t want to miss:
1. DREDGE No. 4
2. Paddle Wheeler Graveyard
After the dredge we spent some time hiking and biking along the banks of the mighty Yukon river and came across the paddle wheeler graveyard. These riverboats of the past were key players in moving machinery, gold and people up and down the Yukon and Klondike. As overland travel became more accessible these paddle wheelers were inconspicuously discarded on the shore across and slightly downstream from town.
Many harsh winters have taken their toll on these poor vessels, and the splintered, broken, rusty hulks make for some fun, yet slightly dangerous exploration.
3. Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
4. Visitor’s Information Centre
5. Explore Downtown
We highly recommend doing one (or more) of the several Walking Tours available for a small fee from the Visitor’s Center. We elected to do the tour themed “Strange Things Done in the Midnight Sun”. This tour was put on by Parks Canada as the town has many historic sites that have been restored to preserve the towns unique past. We had a fantastic tour guide named Justin who took us into unique buildings that have been restored, such as the bank, post office, bar, morgue, and even the town brothel! He told us of weird, fascinating and strange stories of this towns past and the present.
6. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s
7. The SourToe Cocktail
Administered each evening by the Toe Captain Terry, your shot of whatever you choose (of at least 80 proof liquor) receives a severed (and preserved) human toe that must touch your lips before you’re done with your drink! Afterwards, you get a certificate claiming you an honorary Sourdough, the name given to one who has chosen to make the Yukon home.
8. Food & Drink
Beside drinks with body parts, Dawson City boasts quite a culinary assortment. For being a town of only 1300, it has many restaurants with a wide range of cuisines! We personally taste-tested and can vouch for Cheechako’s Bakery, the Jack London Grill (their vegan poutine was divine!), an the thin-crust veggies pizza at Pan of Gold Pizza shop. Yum!
Tip: Check out the Restaurant Directory at the Visitor’s Centre – it has all the menus of all the restaurants so you can find what you want before you even go!
9. Midnight Dome
10. Tombstone Territorial Park
An easy and worthwhile day-trip from Dawson City is one to Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster Highway, just a 1.5 hour drive from town. Explore the Interpretive Center and venture out on a hike or two along the park road to soak in the mountain beauty and get a glimpse of the northern wilderness that lay stretching to the north.
Bonus! Top of the World Highway
Campgrounds we stayed in:
Klondike River Campground (west of town):
$12/night, cell signal available from town (CLICK HERE FOR OUR CELL SETUP)
Yukon River Campground (east of town, across ferry):
$12/night, cell signal available from town
Bonanza Gold RV Park:
$24-$49CAD/night, cell signal available from town (Bell/Telus)
15A, 30A, 50A Electric, partial/full hookups, dumpstation on-site, gravel pad
The Go North Expedition is made possible by Lance Camper Manufacturing, Battle Born Batteries, Truma North America, Dometic, LivinLite.net, Hellwig Suspension Products, and viewers like you through Patreon. Thank you!
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