We decided to do our own shore excursion when our Princess Cruise docked in Skagway, AK. We rented a car from Avis, the only rental car place in town, which involved a half mile walk to pick up the car. We got it about 8:00 a.m., then hit the road for about a 145 mile drive into Yukon Territory to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. We took the Klondike Hwy up through White Pass, past Summit Lake, Bernard Lake, the town of Fraser, beautiful Tutshi Lake, Tagish Lake, Nares Lake, the small town of Carcross, past the Caribou Crossing Trading Post and Cowley Lake. I didn't anticipate how beautiful it would be, lots of trees, lots of lakes, not many people. Then left onto the Alaskan Hwy past Whitehorse to the Klondike Highway, where we turned right, went over the Takhini River, right above where it converges with the Yukon River (which we could see from the bridge), and then left about five miles. I figured it would take us about three hours, but we did it in just over two hours, even with some road construction hold-ups.
The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is large, has huge open enclosures with moose, Dall sheep, stone sheep, mountain goats, elk, caribou, mule deer, musk ox, wood bison, lynx and arctic fox. It is the best zoo I've ever visited. It has a perfect natural habitat for most of the animals and huge enclosures.
|Arctic fox at Yukon Wildlife Preserve. It is one of the animals in a smaller enclosure.|
|Lynx eating salmon, another animal in a smaller enclosure. At the time I did not realize we were very near the spawning ground of the chinook salmon on the Yukon River.|
On our way back we stopped in Whitehorse for lunch. We'd targeted Klondike Rib and Salmon, recommended by the man at the Wildlife Preserve, but they were in between lunch and dinner. Their hostess recommended we go next door to Burnt Toast, which is what we did.
Burnt Toast is currently rated no. 3 in Whitehorse on Trip Advisor. It has an interior with black walls, lots of photos and we could see the Whitehorse City Hall out our window.
|The Whitehorse City Hall|
Whitehorse is the capital of Yukon Territory and apparently there is a territorial legislature building not far from where we were. There was something I really liked about Whitehorse, and I'm not sure what it was. Part of it certainly was that it was nice and sunny (something we saw precious little of in Alaska) and it was wide open and clean. Wikipedia indicates that Whitehorse is the largest city in northern Canada, with a population just under 28,000, and the only city in Yukon Territory. It occupies both sides of the Yukon River and is the city with the least air pollution in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Perhaps part of what I liked is the name. I thought of the White Horse prophecy of Joseph Smith, who identified the Mormons as the white horse in the Book of Revelation who would go to the Rocky Mountains and save the U.S. Constitution which will "hang like a thread."
|Fun name with a fun logo.|
I ordered the gnarley barley salad with barley, roasted onions, peppers, tomatoes, goat cheese, mixed greens, assorted seeds and a maple balsamic dressing. I also ordered a side of smoked salmon which was nice and moist. At the time I assumed it was local salmon, but as I look at the menu now I think it was Atlantic salmon.
The truffle fries were drizzled with white truffle oil and were served with a basil aioli in a mayonnaise base. These were some of the best fries I've ever eaten. They were perfectly cooked, nicely seasoned and an ideal size. I started to wonder if they were made from Yukon Gold potatoes and we'd just found the potato mother-land. My bubble was burst when our server informed us that Yukon Gold's were developed at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, many, many miles east of there.
Judy got a "humble salad" with greens, carrots, beets, black beans, assorted seeds and maple balsamic dressing, along with a veggie wrap with spinach, cucumbers, red peppers, beets, black beans, carrots and a creamy herb dressing. She enjoyed them.
We made good time back to Skagway. I was happy to get to Yukon, a place with kind of a romantic name and out-of-the-way exotic reputation. It felt so normal and comfortable, a place I could spend some more time in.