The next morning we left the campground for the day, but decided to spend our last night in our van there again the next night. It was a nice big campground and we had our own fire pit for campfires (although it wasn’t dark of course 😉 )
We saw these Arctic Ground Squirrels all over the place around Whitehorse. They are so funny to watch! But they do make huge gopher holes everywhere! They’ll stand up on their hind feet right on the side of the road and watch the traffic go by.
The Yukon Wildlife Preserve was started by a man who wanted to have a place to raise the animal species of the Yukon. It is a gigantic piece of property, with all the natural habitats for the animals. When he retired, the Yukon government took it over and now has an animal rehabilitation centre too.
Here’s another arctic ground squirrel. They are so hilarious, like they are in a cartoon!
There was an entire cliff side at the back of the preserve for the mountain goats to live on.
This bald eagle is about 4 years old and is just getting his white head now now that he’s almost mature. He was found with a wing that had been broken and healed wrong. He’ll never be able to live on his own because he can’t fly, so he’ll spend the rest of his days here at the preserve. They also had another bald eagle healing at the rehab center, and a snowy owl, both which they hoped to release after they healed from their injuries.Our tour guide drove us, and another couple from Oregon, around the preserve in a little bus to show us the animals. She was from Peterborough and was really great. They also had fur samples we could feel to know what the coat of each animal was like.
The lynx were really elusive. I saw the silhouette of the male lynx hiding in the tree cover, but didn’t see the female or the baby lynx. The arctic fox also hid, although we could smell them. Who knew? The arctic fox give off a similar smell as a skunk!
After the great tour, we headed back into Whitehorse and went to see the S.S. Klondike, a sternwheeler that is preserved by Parks Canada on the shoreline of the Yukon River.
The sternwheel is huge! It was steam driven.
The next stop was the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. I really had never heard of Beringia. It refers to an area, including parts of Siberia, Alaska, and the Yukon, where the land mass was connected due to the lowered sea water when glaciers formed in the last ice age. Glacier didn’t form here because it was too dry.
The Giant Beaver:
Some of these animals were preserved in permafrost and have been unearthed by miners over the last century.
After the Beringia centre visit, we went back to our campground outside of town and had one last night in our van, and another campfire. We packed all our stuff back into duffle bags, and threw out the rest of the fridge contents.
We still had another night in Whitehorse, but Canadream wanted the van returned between 8-10am on Friday, so we rented a car and booked a hotel room for the last day/night.
After we picked up our rental car, we resumed our sight seeing at the Yukon Transportation Centre. Outside, there is the world’s biggest weathervane! It is a real plane that spins around with the wind!
Inside the museum they had all sorts of artifacts, including dog sled displays, one of the rail cars from the train we were on, some of the US army vehicles left behind from the building of the Alaskan highway, and all sorts of other odds and ends. Really a great place with excellent information displays with all the vehicles, wagons, and sleighs.
After stopping for lunch in Whitehorse, we headed for the Miles Canyon. This is just down the road from Whitehorse, likely still in the city boundary. This was one place a portage is required if you are travelling the Yukon River (it is just up river from the hydro dam).
Here is the ridiculous rental car we had. Jeff loved it. It was an Impala, but it was all pimped out, like a fancy sports car with super dark windows and really lounged back front leather seats. People were always looking at us in the car, maybe because it was clean and not dusty like the other vehicles in Whitehorse., or maybe just because it was kinda ridiculous. Ha!
Then we went to the fish ladder! It is the longest wooden fish ladder in the world, and helps the fish bypass the hydro electric dam. There was a window inside the interpretive centre so you could watch the fish go by. Here are a couple of greyling:
Here’s the interpretive building. Really an interesting place to stop and watch the fish. The salmon come all the way back in from the ocean to spawn here. That is a really really really long way away. They had a map to show their current location and they migrate up river, which was still up north, near the Canadian/Alaskan border.
For our last night, we just couldn’t go to sleep. Carpe diem! We’re in Whitehorse, what else can we do?!
So we went to the Frantic Follies vaudeville revue show! It was a great show, complete with cancan dancers, singing, instruments (including a saw band – yes, they played saws!), Robert Service poetry, and some excellent skits, all set in the gold rush days.
We finished the day across the street from the airport, at the old Airport Chalet. It was dated, without wifi, but it had a big tub, and that is all I needed. I had a good soak 🙂
We left our rental car in the lot and boarded our plane for home.
The flights were fairly uneventful, and we were so thankful for pre-selecting our seats. Those front row seats have amazing leg room, even if they may not have a window, or have space age tvs that come out of your arm rest, and you have to stow all your carry-on bags above you. Well worth it, especially on the long haul between Vancouver and Toronto.
We landed in Halifax close to midnight. It was so shockingly dark. After two weeks in the northern midnight sun, I just couldn’t fathom how we could drive the 2.5 hours home from the airport in such darkness!
Luckily Jeff was driving and we just did fine 🙂