While the Yukon might seem remote and unpopulated, First Nations people have lived here for 10,000 years. After the first prospectors discovered gold here in 1896, and until the mines played out in 1900, the area's population grew vigorously. Those who stayed beyond the gold rush era were involved in fishing and the fur trade. Jack London lived here and wrote about the land. Now oil, natural gas, and lead and zinc mining stoke the area's economy and a mere 31,000 people call the territory home, the majority of them in Whitehorse.
Even though the Yukon is almost completely subarctic, a number of famous highways crisscross the region. The Dempster, the Alaska, the Klondike, and Top of the World pass through towns and villages such as Watson Lake, Dawson, and Pelly Crossing. At any stop along the way, native culture, gold rush history, and natural beauty are never far off.
The territory, covered by mountains, features an incredible number of outdoor activities, too. Wildlife viewing is prime, with resident moose, caribou, trumpeter swans, beluga and bowhead whales, and Dall sheep. Despite frosty temperatures and long nights, thousands are drawn outside for winter's best show: the aurora borealis.
The highest point in Canada is here, atop Mt. Logan in Kluane National Park, a backpacker's heaven. During summer, and in 24-hour daylight, canoe trips on the Yukon River system are unforgettable.