There are so many reasons to visit Dawson City in fall. As our peak visitor season begins to taper off, the pace of life slows down . Guided tours become more intimate, and the locals you’ll meet in our cafes and bars have more time to chat about life in the north. But the best reason to visit in fall? The colours! Our fall foliage is truly stunning, whether you’re on the Dempster Highway, over the Top of the World, or right here in town.
If you stop into our Visitor Information Centre from late August to early September, you’ll hear people asking if the colours are “at their peak” yet. That’s because we have a fairly short window for seeing the foliage at its most brilliant, especially along the Dempster Highway and in Tombstone Territorial Park. For a period of about a week, the tundra is painted rich hues of red, gold and deep brown, like a luxurious carpet spread across the valleys and up the mountain sides. Don’t worry if you miss that window, though! The fading colours are just as beautiful and make for dramatic photos, especially with a dusting of snow on the craggy peaks.
Top of the World Highway
Another excellent place to enjoy the colours is along the Top of the World Highway, which you can reach by taking a short ferry ride across the Yukon River. The views up here differ from along the Dempster because the road travels along the tops of these rolling hills, making for gorgeous vistas down the valleys. You’ll truly feel like you’re on top of the world! Make a stop at kilometer 59 to see Castle Rock, a rocky outcropping created by erosion, and keep your eyes on the ground for wild blueberries and lowbush cranberries, both ripe in the fall.
Of course, the colours are also beautiful right here in town! The birch, poplar, aspen and willow all turn bright yellows and oranges, and look like gold threading through the spruce trees. The leaves of the tall fireweed lining the streets turn scarlet, as do the foxtail grasses and highbush cranberries. Take a stroll along the dike or the 9th Avenue Trail, or drive up to the Midnight Dome to see the colours all around.
Perhaps one of the biggest perks of visiting us in the fall is the chance to see the northern lights! After weeks of endless sunlight, our night skies are finally dark again, and if you’re up late enough, you might see the aurora dancing overhead. You can ask the front desk of your hotel to give you a wake-up call should the aurora make an appearance, or just bundle up and park atop the Midnight Dome on a clear night. Even if the lights don’t come out, you’ll be amazed by our starry night sky!