I’m writing from Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, Canada.
My wife and I recently decided to take a sabbatical from our Silicon Valley lives to focus on travel and new experiences for the rest of this year. For our first stop, we left sunny Northern California to travel North to the edge of the Arctic Circle in the Yukon Territories.
We’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights. And we saw them every night we were here (very lucky, it’s a crapshoot)! But what has been really surprising about Whitehorse is that there is so much to do even beyond just looking at the skies at night.
Here are some highlights from our trip:
Flying to Whitehorse
The flight from San Francisco to Whitehorse is surprisingly fast. One layover, but total flight time is about 5 hours.
Above is a picture of my wife walking down the jet bridge as we transfer in Vancouver to our Whitehorse flight. In Asian tourist style, I made a family stop behind me as I snapped several pictures of my wife.
Trying on the cold weather gear
Renting cold weather gear was the smartest thing that we did for our Yukon visit. As soon as we arrived to our hotel, we had a big duffel bag waiting for each of us. Here I am in our hotel room trying on the heavy gear for the first time. This outfit kept me very comfortable during the many hours we spent outside in negative temperatures.
Yukon Wildlife Preserve
Highly recommend the Yukon Wildlife Preserve as a daytime activity while you’re in Whitehorse. You can see lots of cool northern animals, like this cute Arctic Fox above.
Dog sledding on the Takhini River
Dog sledding was by far the neatest daytime activity we tried in the Yukon. We went out with a great company, sledding for about 15 kilometers on the frozen Takhini River. The dogs were super friendly and the experience was incredibly fun.
The Northern Lights
We spent only three nights at Whitehorse, but every night from 9:30pm to 1:30am, we would go out with a tour to a remote field to view the Northern Lights. The lights were a bit dim for the first two nights, but on our final night the view was spectacular.
Hands down, the Northern Lights were the most magnificent thing I’ve witnessed in nature. The lights move like ribbons floating in the air. Many people refer to the movements of the Lights like a dance and that is a perfect description. On a good night, you see many colors in the sky—we saw greens, reds, and purples.
Somehow you forget everything while you’re watching the Northern Lights. In our last night, we probably spent three hours outside in the negative temperatures just looking at the sky, living in the present.
Try to see the Northern Lights in March
Whitehorse is an awesome place to go view the Northern Lights. Flights here from California are relatively direct (just one stop in Vancouver). The best time to go is March, which is the month that typically has the most solar activity during the year. Everything up here (especially food) is expensive, so watch out for that.
My wife and I had a great time in the cold, but we’re looking forward to the warmer destinations that lie ahead for our walkabout.
Next stop: Southern Japan