I’m the first to admit that as a luxury travel writer I may be just a tad spoiled when it comes to amenities. It’s remarkably easy to get used to lavish designer suites, private infinity pools, Michelin-caliber meals and having a personal butler at your beck and call. This was one of the main reasons why I accepted an invitation for a press trip to explore the Yukon! At first glance, the Yukon is hardly the place for luxury travel but if you’re looking to experience one adrenaline-fueled, exhilarating adventure after another, surrounded by staggering landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty, then a trip to the Yukon is priceless. This is why I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and visit the Yukon in (gasp) the dead of winter, where the temps often plummet to -35 degrees.
1. Festivals galore
With temps this extreme, Yukoner’s really make their own winter fun. They offer a variety of unique festivals ranging from sophisticated cultural offerings to insane “man against the elements” competitions. Some of the more popular events include the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, Thaw di Gras Spring Carnival, Klondike Outhouse Races, Yukon International Storytelling Festival and the Dawson City Music Festival.
During my visit I got to be part of (happily, I was just rooting from the sidelines) the 32nd annual Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. From what I could see, the “Quest”” makes the Iditarod look like a stroll in the snow by comparison! The Quest began in 1983, at the Bull’s Eye Saloon, when musher Leroy Shank and historian Roger Williams envisioned the ultimate dog sled race, one that would severely test the strength and endurance of man and dog over 1,000 miles of rugged terrain. Unlike the Iditarod, which only crosses one mountain range, the Quest cuts through four mountain ranges with significant elevation changes, includes fewer checkpoints/rest stops and has more extreme temperatures. After talking to the mushers and learning more about their backgrounds I was reminded of ABC’s Wide World of Sports slogan, “the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition”.
*Image of Yukon via Shutterstock