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Special Photo Essay: Dawson City, Yukon — The True Klondike Explored

Downtown Motel

A Special Photo Essay Of Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. Join me on an exploration of the Yukon’s ultimate Klondike showpiece:

In This Photo Essay You Will Discover:

  • The Unique Character of Dawson City
  • The Draw to the Klondike
  • Tips for your Visit
  • And More!

Poetry and prose about Canada’s Great Klondike by great writers such as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton has captured the world’s attention over the past century. Of course, the real draw has always been one of the most base instincts of mankind: greed. For gold. Although long over, the mystery of the Gold Rush has kept Dawson City alive as the tourist hub and living museum that it is. Designated a Canadian Historical Site, the Gold Rush-era buildings in the town are to be continuously preserved for generations of German tourists to fawn over — as it seems there is a particular fascination with the Klondike among the German RV crowd.

As I ride into the outer limits of Dawson city on my muddy motorcycle, I find it hard not to get swept away in Gold Rush fever. The roads in the town, hard clay that easily turns to mud in the rain,  are virtually unchanged since they carried horses and buggies; and the buildings, from the local newspaper to the hotels to the ice cream shop, proudly display the ornate and colourful architecture of the 1890s Boom Era. If it weren’t for the modern trucks and motorcycles puttering down the street, one could easily lose oneself to the history, and vanish into the hills in search of fortune.

Dawson City Outskirts

Almost 600 km north of Whitehorse, Dawson City is a welcome sight to the weary rider.

Dawson City Streets

Dawson’s Streets: Unchanged for a century, save the vehicles atop them.

Dawson Daily News

Dawson Daily News under the northern sun – at about 11:00 p.m.

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is one of the most famous buildings in Dawson.

Ghost House

Anybody home? A deserted – maybe – house in Dawson’s downtown.

Robert Service

The Spell of The Yukon. No explanation needed.

Palace Grand Theatre

Once the home of nightly shows, the famous Palace Grand gave Dawson City the nickname “Paris of the North.”

Midnight Sun Hotel

The Midnight Sun Hotel, downtown Dawson, under the actual midnight sun. (Rooms here start at about $99.)


The saloon in the Downtown Motel features the “Sourtoe Cocktail,” a cocktail with a real human toe in it.

Adventure Riders

Dawson City, and the Yukon & Alaska in general is a popular destination for adventure motorcyclists.

Dawson City Stores

Unchanged Dawson City storefronts – could be the past, present or even the future.

Sourdough Joe's

Enjoy the Alaska Burger at Sourdough Joe’s. (Sourdough is a nickname for a “real” northerner.)

If You Go:

  • Make a reservation at one of the hotels or the Gold Rush Campground (the only campsite in downtown Dawson). They fill up fast.
  • Take in one of the nightly shows at Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall. It’s kitchsy, but a one-of-a-kind look at a real Klondike casino.
  • Sourdough Joes is great for casual outdoor dining, or for something special, make a reservation at the Jack London Grill.
  • Keep in mind Dawson is not a city at all — but a town of only a couple of thousand people (in summer). Supplies and services are limited.
  • The Gold Rush Campground has the only Laundromat in town, and it is available for everybody to use. (Purchase tokens at the front desk.)
  • The roads turn to mud easily, so flip-flops are better replaced by hiking boots.

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About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

3 comments… add one
  • D. Feit Apr 5, 2013 Link

    I visited in August and it was t-shirt weather in the day time. I was glad for my lined jacket after dark.
    I took photos of northern lights at 02:30 am and the town was very quiet at that time. 🙂
    Lots to see and do and good food too.
    No chain stores. Museums and churches and nice simple hotels. Look for local art and lots of great photo opportunities.
    The campground is well managed and the restrooms are clean.

  • Ilias Sep 29, 2010 Link


  • Hiking Boots Sep 24, 2010 Link

    Do you have what it takes to strike it rich Test your skills as you journey hundreds of miles over ocean, mountains, rivers, and tundra.

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