Dawson, Yukon Travel Guide: 17 Must-Do Activities 2023

Home » Dawson, Yukon Travel Guide: 17 Must-Do Activities 2023

Looking for a charming and historic travel destination in the heart of Yukon? Look no further than Dawson City! This iconic Canadian town, known for its connection to the Klondike Gold Rush, is a must-visit for history buffs and thrill-seekers alike. With its parks Canada designation as a national historic site, you can immerse yourself in the rich heritage of this downtown hotel.

Dawson Yukon June 07
Dawson Yukon June 07

Imagine wandering through the streets of downtown Dawson, where every corner whispers tales of fortune seekers and rugged pioneers during the Klondike experience. As you explore this vibrant community, you’ll be captivated by its rich heritage and awe-inspiring architecture, which reflects the gold rush history. From the bustling main street to the quaint buildings of West Dawson, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy at this national historic site. Don’t forget to visit the famous Sourdough Saloon for a taste of the Klondike experience.

But what sets Dawson City apart from other travel destinations? It’s not just about its fascinating past; it’s also about embracing the present. You can immerse yourself in the Klondike experience at lively festivals, try your luck at gold panning, or simply soak up the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds this hidden gem. Whether you stay at a downtown hotel or camp at a nearby campground, Dawson City offers something for everyone.

Dawson natural beauty

So grab your guidebook or make a checklist because Dawson City, known for its Klondike gold rush history, is waiting to be discovered. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through time and experience all that this enchanting destination, famous for dog sledding, has to offer. Let’s dive into our comprehensive travel guide and unlock the secrets of Dawson, Yukon on a thrilling tour!

Planning a Trip to Dawson City: Best Time to Visit and How to Get There

When to Visit Dawson City

Dawson city buildings
Dawson city buildings

Planning a trip to Dawson City? The first thing you need to consider is when to visit this charming destination. The best time to experience the true essence of Dawson City depends on your preferences and what you want to explore, whether it’s the Klondike, dog sledding, touring, or camping at a campground.

If you’re a fan of summer festivals, then plan your visit to the Klondike between June and August. During this time, Dawson City’s campground comes alive with vibrant events like the famous Yukon Riverside Arts Festival and the lively Discovery Days celebration. You can immerse yourself in live music, art exhibitions, and cultural performances while enjoying the warm weather on a dog sledding tour.

On the other hand, if you’re seeking a winter wonderland adventure in the Klondike, plan your trip from December to February. Dawson City, a picturesque town, transforms into a snowy landscape during these months. You can witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights dancing across the sky or try your hand at ice fishing on frozen lakes. Don’t forget to bundle up in warm clothing for this chilly dog sledding experience!

How to Get There

Now that you’ve decided when to visit the town of Dawson City in Klondike, let’s explore how you can go there from the US.

  1. Flights: If you prefer flying, there are regular flights available from major Canadian cities like Vancouver and Whitehorse. You can book a direct flight or opt for connecting flights depending on your location.
  2. Driving Routes: For those who enjoy road trips and scenic drives, driving is an excellent option. There are multiple routes that lead to Dawson City, each offering its own unique sights along the way:
    • The Klondike Highway: This iconic route starts in Whitehorse and takes you through breathtaking landscapes such as Kluane National Park. Along the way, you’ll pass by the charming town of Dawson City, home to the famous Dawson City Music Festival. As you continue your journey, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore West Dawson and downtown Dawson, both situated along the beautiful river.
    • The Top of the World Highway: As the name suggests, this route offers stunning panoramic views of the Klondike River as it winds its way through mountains and valleys. It is a popular route for people traveling to the Dawson City Music Festival.
    • The Dempster Highway: If you’re up for an adventurous drive, the Dempster Highway in the Klondike region is for you. This gravel road takes you through the wilderness of the Yukon, passing by the beautiful river and even crosses into the Northwest Territories. It’s a popular route for people attending the Dawson City Music Festival.
  3. Scenic Train Journeys: Another option to reach Dawson City is by taking a scenic train journey. The White Pass and Yukon Route offers a historic rail experience that allows you to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes while learning about the region’s rich history.

Seasonal Highlights

To make the most of your trip to Dawson City, plan your itinerary around seasonal highlights, such as the Klondike.

  1. Midnight Dome Viewpoint: Don’t miss out on visiting the Midnight Dome viewpoint, especially during summer evenings when you can witness breathtaking sunsets that linger until midnight. The panoramic views of Dawson City and the Yukon River are truly awe-inspiring.
  2. Dog Sledding Adventures: Embrace winter adventures by going on a dog sledding tour. Experience the thrill of gliding through snow-covered trails while being pulled by a team of energetic huskies. It’s an unforgettable way to explore the snowy wilderness surrounding Dawson City.

Explore the Historic Sites of Dawson City: Commissioner’s Residence and Robert Service Cabin

Step back in time at the beautifully restored Commissioner’s Residence, once home to high-ranking officials during the Gold Rush era.

Dawson historic buildings
Dawson historic buildings

The Commissioner’s Residence in Dawson City is a must-visit for klondike history enthusiasts. This stunning building, meticulously restored, offers a glimpse into the lives of high-ranking officials who played a crucial role during the klondike Gold Rush era. As you step through its doors, you’ll be transported back in time to an era filled with excitement and adventure in klondike.

Inside the Commissioner’s Residence, you’ll find rooms furnished with period-appropriate furniture and decor. Wander through the grand hallways adorned with photographs and artifacts that tell stories of Dawson City’s past. Take your time exploring each room, imagining what life was like for those who called this place home.

One highlight of the Commissioner’s Residence is the Gold Room, where gold nuggets from various mines are displayed. These nuggets serve as a reminder of the incredible wealth that flowed through Dawson City during its heyday. The exhibits provide fascinating insights into how gold mining shaped the region and attracted people from all walks of life.

Visit the Robert Service Cabin where renowned poet Robert W. Service wrote his famous works inspired by life in the North.

Nestled in a serene corner of Dawson City lies the Robert Service Cabin, a humble abode where one of Canada’s most beloved poets found inspiration for his timeless works. Step inside this rustic cabin and imagine yourself sitting at Service’s desk, penning verses that would capture hearts around the world.

The cabin has been preserved to reflect its original state when Robert Service lived there over a century ago. You’ll find personal belongings, handwritten manuscripts, and photographs that offer glimpses into Service’s life as he sought solace and creativity amidst Yukon’s rugged landscapes.

As you explore this historic site, take some time to read aloud Service’s poems. Feel the rhythm of his words and let them transport you to a time when the North was a wild and untamed frontier. The cabin serves as a tribute to Service’s enduring legacy, reminding visitors of the power of storytelling and the beauty of nature.

Immerse yourself in captivating stories of pioneers, gold miners, and colorful characters who shaped Dawson’s history.

Dawson historical residence
Dawson historical residence

Dawson City is steeped in fascinating stories that bring its rich history to life. From tales of intrepid pioneers who braved harsh conditions to strike it rich, to larger-than-life gold miners who left their mark on this once-booming town, there is no shortage of captivating narratives waiting to be discovered.

As you explore Dawson City’s historic sites, be prepared to hear stories that will captivate your imagination. Learn about Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack, and Tagish Charlie – the discoverers of Bonanza Creek, which sparked the Klondike Gold Rush. Discover how these men changed the course of history with their discovery and forever altered the destiny of Dawson City.

Immerse Yourself in Indigenous Culture at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre

If you’re looking to experience the vibrant and rich Indigenous culture of Yukon, a visit to the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre in Dawson is an absolute must. This remarkable center offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the history, art, and traditions of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nations community. Let’s explore some of the highlights that make this cultural center an essential stop on your journey through Dawson.

Authentic Indigenous Artifacts and Exhibits

At the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, you’ll have the chance to discover a vast collection of authentic Indigenous art, artifacts, and exhibits that showcase the heritage of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. From beautifully crafted traditional garments to intricate beadwork and stunning carvings, each piece tells a story deeply rooted in their culture. Take your time as you wander through the exhibits, allowing yourself to be captivated by the skill and craftsmanship displayed.

Engage with Local Artists

One of the most exciting aspects of visiting Dänojà Zho is the opportunity to engage with local artists who are passionate about preserving their traditions. The center offers workshops where you can learn traditional practices such as beading, drum-making, or moosehide tanning from skilled artisans. These hands-on experiences provide a unique insight into their art forms while fostering a deep appreciation for their craftsmanship.

Cultural Performances

Prepare to be enthralled by captivating cultural performances that celebrate First Nations culture in Yukon. From traditional songs echoing through the air to mesmerizing dances that tell stories passed down through generations, these performances offer a glimpse into an ancient world filled with beauty and meaning. Sit back and let yourself be transported as talented dancers bring history alive before your eyes.

Learn About Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in History and Language

The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre is not just a place to admire art and performances; it’s also an educational hub where visitors can learn about the rich history and language of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. Through interactive exhibits and informative displays, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of their past, present, and ongoing efforts to preserve their cultural heritage. Take this opportunity to expand your knowledge and appreciation for the First Nations community in Yukon.

Visiting the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre is like stepping into a world where traditions are cherished, art comes alive, and stories are shared. It’s a good place to go if you want to immerse yourself in Indigenous culture while exploring Dawson. Don’t miss out on this incredible experience that will leave you with lasting memories of your time in this wild part of the world.

So why wait? Make sure to add the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre to your itinerary when planning your trip to Dawson. Spend a day or even a few days exploring this remarkable center, learning about history, engaging with locals, and being captivated by the beauty that surrounds you.

Experience Unique Activities: Sour Toe Cocktail Club and Gold Panning Tours

Join the Infamous Sour Toe Cocktail Club

Looking for a truly unique and unforgettable experience? Look no further than the infamous Sour Toe Cocktail Club in Dawson, Yukon. This exclusive club invites you to take a shot with a real preserved human toe in your drink. Yes, you read that right! The club’s signature cocktail is served with an actual human toe floating in it.

The tradition began back in 1973 when Captain Dick Stevenson found a severed toe preserved in a jar of alcohol. He decided to start the Sour Toe Cocktail Club, challenging adventurous souls to join by touching their lips to the toe while taking a shot. Since then, thousands of brave individuals have become members of this eccentric club.

Try Your Luck at Gold Panning Tours

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Klondike Gold Rush by going on gold panning tours in Dawson City. Relive the excitement and thrill experienced by prospectors during the gold rush era as you try your hand at finding shiny flakes of gold.

These tours offer an interactive experience where you can learn about gold mining techniques from seasoned miners themselves. Participate in workshops that teach you how to pan for gold and discover insider tips and tricks for spotting those elusive nuggets. Hear fascinating stories passed down through generations about life during the gold rush while exploring historic mining sites.

Indulge in One-of-a-Kind Experiences

Dawson City isn’t just known for its quirky traditions; it also offers a range of one-of-a-kind experiences that will leave you with unforgettable memories. From walking tours that delve into the city’s fascinating past to hiking trips that showcase its stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone.

Immerse yourself in Dawson City’s vibrant history with walking tours led by knowledgeable guides who bring the stories of the gold rush to life. Explore historic buildings, visit museums, and stroll along the streets that were once bustling with fortune seekers.

For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking trips in the surrounding wilderness provide breathtaking views and a chance to connect with nature. Experience the awe-inspiring landscapes of Yukon as you trek through pristine forests, discover hidden waterfalls, and spot wildlife along the way.

Cruise along the Yukon River: Klondike Spirit Paddlewheeler and Tombstone Territorial Park

Cruise along the Yukon River
Cruise along the Yukon River

Relive the Era of Paddlewheelers on a Scenic Cruise

Step aboard the Klondike Spirit Paddlewheeler and be transported back in time to an era when paddlewheelers ruled the majestic Yukon River. This unique experience offers a glimpse into the past, allowing you to immerse yourself in the history of the region while enjoying breathtaking scenery.

As you cruise along the Yukon River, take in the picturesque landscapes that surround you. The gentle churning of the paddlewheel creates a soothing soundtrack as you navigate through pristine waters. Capture Instagram-worthy photos of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife that call this area home.

Explore the Wilderness of Tombstone Territorial Park

Tombstone Territorial Park is a nature lover’s paradise located along the Dempster Highway. This vast wilderness boasts rugged mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, and untouched forests. Embark on hiking trails that offer stunning panoramic views or join guided nature walks to learn about local flora and fauna from knowledgeable guides.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of this remote park as you encounter diverse wildlife such as bears, moose, caribou, and eagles. Keep your camera ready for those once-in-a-lifetime shots of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Uncover History at Parks Canada Sites

Delve deeper into Klondike’s rich history by visiting Parks Canada sites scattered throughout Dawson City. Learn about the famous Klondike Gold Rush that brought fortune seekers from all over the world to this region in search of gold.

Visit historic cemeteries where pioneers who braved harsh conditions during this gold rush are laid to rest. Gain insight into their stories and pay tribute to those who played a significant role in shaping Dawson’s history.

Experience Whitehorse: The Gateway to Adventure

Before or after your Yukon River cruise, make sure to spend some time in Whitehorse, the capital city of Yukon. This vibrant city serves as the gateway to numerous outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.

Take part in thrilling activities such as dog sledding, where you can harness a team of energetic huskies and glide through snowy landscapes. Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting art galleries, museums, and attending live performances showcasing traditional indigenous music and dance.

Witness the Northern Lights Dance Across the Sky

The Yukon is renowned for its spectacular display of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. If you’re lucky enough to visit during winter months when nights are longer, keep an eye out for this mesmerizing natural phenomenon.

Head away from city lights and find a cozy spot under a starry sky to witness nature’s light show. Marvel at vibrant hues of green, purple, and pink dancing across the darkness—a truly unforgettable experience.

Enjoy Nightlife in Dawson City: Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall and Festivals

If you’re looking for a lively and entertaining nightlife experience in Dawson, look no further than Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall. This iconic establishment offers an unforgettable evening of fun, excitement, and cancan dancing. Here are some reasons why you should make it a priority to visit this gambling hall and explore the vibrant festival scene in Dawson City.

Experience lively entertainment at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall

Diamond Tooth Gertie’s is not your average casino. Step inside this historic venue and be transported back to the Gold Rush era with its charming old-world ambiance. The main attraction here is the cancan dancers who put on nightly shows that will leave you mesmerized. Their high kicks, twirls, and colorful costumes add an extra flair to your evening.

Once you’ve enjoyed the captivating performances, try your luck at the various gambling tables available. From blackjack to poker and roulette, there’s something for everyone at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s. You might even walk away with some extra cash in your pocket!

Immerse yourself in Dawson’s vibrant festival scene

Dawson City knows how to throw a party, and its festival scene is proof of that. Two notable events that showcase the town’s festive spirit are Thaw Di Gras and Discovery Days celebrations.

Thaw Di Gras is held during the springtime when winter begins to loosen its grip on Dawson. It features a range of exciting activities such as snow carving competitions, dog sled races, live music performances, and delicious food stalls offering local delicacies.

Discovery Days celebrations take place in August to commemorate the discovery of gold in Bonanza Creek—the event that sparked the Klondike Gold Rush. During this time, Dawson comes alive with parades, street parties, historical reenactments, and fireworks displays that light up the night sky.

Discover cozy pubs, live music venues, and friendly locals

While Diamond Tooth Gertie’s is undoubtedly a must-visit, Dawson City has more to offer in terms of nightlife. The downtown area is dotted with cozy pubs and live music venues where you can unwind, socialize, and enjoy the local talent.

Grab a seat at one of the charming bars and strike up a conversation with the friendly locals. They’ll be more than happy to share stories about Dawson’s rich history or recommend other hidden gems in town. This welcoming atmosphere makes for an unforgettable night out in this small but vibrant community.

So whether you’re in the mood for dancing the night away or trying your luck at the blackjack tables, Dawson City has it all. Experience lively entertainment at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant festival scene, and discover cozy pubs with live music venues—all while enjoying an authentic taste of Dawson’s spirited nightlife.

Expert Picks for an Unforgettable Vacation in Dawson City

In conclusion, a trip to Dawson City promises an unforgettable vacation filled with history, culture, and unique experiences. From planning your visit to immersing yourself in Indigenous culture and enjoying the vibrant nightlife, there is something for everyone in this charming city.

The best time to visit Dawson City is during the summer months when the weather is pleasant and many events take place. Whether you choose to arrive by road or take a scenic flight, getting to Dawson City is part of the adventure.

Exploring the historic sites of Commissioner’s Residence and Robert Service Cabin offers a glimpse into the rich history of this gold rush town. The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre provides an opportunity to learn about and appreciate Indigenous culture through art, exhibits, and performances.

For those seeking unique activities, joining the Sour Toe Cocktail Club or trying your hand at gold panning will create lasting memories. Cruising along the Yukon River on the Klondike Spirit Paddlewheeler or visiting Tombstone Territorial Park showcases the breathtaking natural beauty of the region.

When night falls, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall comes alive with entertainment and excitement. Dawson City hosts various festivals throughout the year that offer a taste of local culture and traditions.

To make your trip even more memorable, consider participating in some of these activities:

  1. Attend a live cancan show at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall.
  2. Take part in one of the gold panning tours offered in town.
  3. Enjoy a scenic hike in Tombstone Territorial Park.
  4. Indulge in local cuisine at one of Dawson City’s charming restaurants.
  5. Explore more historic buildings like Jack London Cabin or St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

With its rich history, cultural experiences, and exciting activities, Dawson City has everything you need for an unforgettable vacation.


Q: What is the best time to visit Dawson City?

A: The best time to visit Dawson City is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is pleasant and many events take place.

Q: How can I get to Dawson City?

A: You can reach Dawson City by road or take a scenic flight for a more adventurous journey.

Q: What are some unique activities in Dawson City?

A: Joining the Sour Toe Cocktail Club and trying gold panning are two unique activities that you can experience in Dawson City.

Q: Are there any cultural attractions in Dawson City?

A: Yes, the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre offers an immersive experience into Indigenous culture through art, exhibits, and performances.

Q: What are some must-visit historic sites in Dawson City?

A: Commissioner’s Residence and Robert Service Cabin are two historic sites that provide insights into the city’s gold rush history.