Contrary to popular mythology, winter is not a year-long event in the Yukon. We get all four seasons, and we don’t play favourites. Spring is synonymous with epic wildlife viewing. Summer is fueled by our midnight sun. Fall features Mother Nature at her most flamboyant. And winter? ‘Tis the season for bright, crisp sunny days, and aurora-lit nights.
Choosing which time of year to visit the Yukon depends a lot on what floats your seasonal boat. Here’s a sampler of what you can expect in Yukon’s winter, spring, summer and fall.
Yukon in the Winter
Winter can be hard on Yukoners. With so many great winter activities to choose from, we have more trouble with FOMO than frosty weather.
It can be hard to decide what to do first, so here’s a few wintery ideas: northern lights viewing, dogsledding, Ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter festivals, wildlife viewing, hot springs, cross-country and downhill skiing, and fat biking.
For the more adventurous, try strapping a kite to a pair of skis and hanging on tight as you whip across the frozen beauty of Lake Bennett in Carcross. You’ll meet more than a few grinning locals doing the same. Not quite your speed? Build your very own perfect winter day. After all, where else can you ski through a nature reserve in the morning, mush huskies across a glistening lake in the afternoon, and slowly watch your hair freeze as you soak in a hot spring in the evening?
Don’t forget to look up. The long, dark winter nights set the stage for one of the most amazing, natural phenomena of the world—the aurora borealis. Prepare to drop jaw as you gaze up in awe at a light show that rivals a choreographed intergalactic laser battle.
Winter in the Yukon runs from November to early March. Average temperatures reach highs of between -1° and -11° C and lows between -12° and -20° C.
Yukon in the Spring
In Spring, our furred and feathered friends come out and get busy again. Why not do the same and shred the slopes with some late-season skiing?
Yukon Spring is a herald of all things bright and every living thing is drawn to that light. Millions of migratory birds fly back, crocuses appear on hillsides and bear cubs emerge groggily from their dens to explore once more—not unlike a few of the locals.
Longer sunny days, sparkling “fast” snow, and warming temps make March a popular month for getting outdoors. Try cross country or downhill skiing (maybe with the ski jacket open), conquer Fish Lake on snowshoes or— if you’re looking for something literally breathtaking—jump into the lake after the ice melts for a quick dip.
There’s one other kind of light that is particularly beautiful at this time of year. In addition to longer, sunnier days, spring brings brilliant northern lights by night. As a bonus, the season’s warming temps provide some added comfort for your Yukon aurora tours.
Yukon in the Summer
One of the only places on Earth where wearing your sunglasses at night won’t remind people of an 80’s one-hit wonder.
At the height of the summer season, the sun sets just before midnight, and with temperatures as high as 26°C (78.8°F), you’ll be able to squeeze in a late-night tanning session, right before bed. Of course, that’s if you’re not already busy with flightseeing, mountain biking, golfing, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, summer arts and music festivals, RVing, etc.
And because the sun barely sets, the adventures never end. June and July welcome up to 21 hours of daylight. Perfect for road tripping through the Yukon’s eight unique regions or hiking the legendary trails of Kluane National Park and Reserve. Longer days are ideal for a horseback ride to take in the panoramic views of Fish Lake near Whitehorse. Or take a front row seat for the Yukon’s wildest views late in the (sunny) day by paddling the Yukon River. Larger animals, like moose and bears, can be seen foraging around rivers for fresh greens, so if you spot one from your canoe, be sure to take a photo—but maybe leave your selfie stick at home.
Hot packing tip: No need to check the weather station. The Yukon summer forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of changing within the hour. So think layers. Throw a beanie and a windbreaker in with those short shorts and tube tops to pack the most comfort into your summer fun.
Summer in the Yukon runs from June to August. Average temperatures reach highs of between 14° and 20° C and lows between 6° and 8° C.
Yukon in the Fall
The tundra is transformed by bright oranges, yellows and reds into a landscape fit for a
It’s a short season, but you don’t want to miss it. From mid-August to late September, the Yukon is positively ablaze in gold and crimson tones. Tombstone Territorial Park in the Klondike region puts on a show of colour that’s not to be missed. You’ll want to take a photography tour, hike the world-renowned trails, drive further up the Dempster, or best yet, do all three. And while you’re up that way, you may happen upon the Porcupine caribou herd, over 200,000 strong, as they undertake the longest land-migration route of any land mammal on Earth.
As the autumn air becomes crisp and the nights grow long, a different kind of colour show begins. It’s the start of another aurora borealis season. If you’re planning on watching this spectacular natural phenomenon, dress for the Yukon fall conditions and bring a thermos of hot chocolate. If you want to take your fall aurora viewing literally to the next level, consider a flightseeing tour so you can ooh and aah at the scene from 35,000 feet in the air.
Fall in the Yukon runs from September to October. Average temperatures reach highs of between 4° and 19° C and lows between -3° and 7° C.