Province/Territory: Yukon Territory

Heart of the Klondike Gold Rush

  • 1890s Klondike Gold Rush
  • 04 National Historic Sites
  • 35 years of Dawson City Music Festival

Dawson City is a Northern gem, a small town with big artistic talent and community spirit created when a First Nations fishing camp exploded into a boomtown of Klondike gold dreamers in the 1890s. Set amid the Yukon wilderness, original Wild West-style buildings with their old-time wooden boardwalks stand at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, protected as a National Historic Site of Canada.

Grab a gold pan and strike your own bonanza. Tour the Klondike’s legendary gold Dredge No. 4 and visit the S.S. Keno sternwheeler. Throw a dice or two at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s where girls in crinolines can-can, knowing that your losses benefit the town’s preservation. Punch through a saloon's batwing doors and toe-tap to tunes on a stand-up piano during the Dawson City Music Festival that takes over town venues from churches to the Palace Grand Theatre. Dare yourself to sip a Sourtoe Cocktail garnished with a real, pickled human toe and officially become a “Sourdough”, a true Northerner. Then drift off to sleep beneath the Midnight Sun in a former Klondike brothel reborn as a boutique hotel.

Outdoor adventure

  • Toss a fishing line into the Yukon River, relax in the sunshine and hope for a nibble.
  • Canoe the Yukon River from Lake Laberge to Dawson City in the style of Aboriginals, Hudson Bay fur traders and Gold Rush prospectors.
  • Learn to hitch up the Huskies and ogle the Northern Lights from a dogsled.

Arts & Culture

  • Sip a local brew in a wild west saloon, enjoy cancan dancer performances and toss dice in Diamond Tooth Gertie's old-time gambling hall.
  • Learn about local First Nations’ traditions, arts and culture at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre.
  • Nibble Northern “country food” cuisine – from caribou jerky and Arctic char to moose medallions and musk ox burgers.
  • Rock with the rhythm of the unpretentious Dawson City Music Festival that takes over the entire town, churches, saloons ‘n all.

Nature & Wildlife

  • Take in the Northern Lights as they dance in long winter nights.
  • Cheer on the mushers at the Yukon Quest as they pull into Dawson City, the mid-point in the 1,000 mile-long international dogsled race.
  • In the summer, trek across tundra; hop a bush plane and soar towards mountain peaks, ice fields and giant glaciers; forage for Klondike artifacts amid wildflowers.

Road trips & Train travel

  • Take an epic road trip across the Arctic Circle spotting moose, caribou and bears en route to the Arctic Ocean on the Dempster Highway.
  • Drive the dramatic Top of the World Highway into Alaska.
  • Take the Klondike Highway—a daylong drive Dawson City to the lively capital city of Whitehorse.

Weather

  • Dawson City has a sub-Arctic climate which means pleasantly warm summer temperatures averaging 16°C during the long days of July, spiking much higher on occasion.
  • In winter, January temperatures average about −27 °C. Snow is common from October through April.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Quick facts

Area: 32.45 square kilometres (12.53 square miles)
Capital City: Whitehorse
Dawson City was the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush
Total Population: 1,947
Official Languages: English and French (English predominant)
Territorial Motto: Larger Than Life

When to go
  • Summer, from late June through August, is the season for hiking, paddling and road tripping. Bring sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Since Dawson City is perched just below the Arctic Circle, there is 24 hour light from May into early August.
  • Autumn, when foliage turns red and orange with fall colours from late August through September, is cooler and pleasantly bug-free. Nights might be chilly.
  • In winter, from October to April, Northern Lights are at their best during the dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing season.
Getting Here
  • Dawson City is located in the northern territory of Yukon in Canada’s Western Arctic. There are regular flights from Whitehorse to Dawson City Airport (YDA).
  • By road, buses travel regularly to Dawson City via the Alaska Highway or from Whitehorse on Stewart-Cassiar Highway from British Columbia.
  • View current Yukon highway information.
  • Ferries and cruise ships stop in Skagway, Alaska, with charter buses and coaches connecting to Dawson City.
  • The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow-gauge railway chugs from Skagway to Whitehorse with connections to Dawson City.
Getting around
  • Dawson City is compact, perfect for walking on a network of boardwalk/sidewalks and along the riverside.
  • Get to know the town on an historic walking tour by costumed interpreters offered by Parks Canada.