Fun with Flora and Fauna
Curious what could possibly live and grow this far north? You’ll be surprised by the diversity of plant and animal species making their home in the Yukon! We’ve got some tips to help you get acquainted and see where to find just a few of the plants and animals living around Dawson City.
The prairie crocus is one of the first flowers to poke its head above ground in the spring, and hunting for the first fuzzy purple bloom is a tradition for many Yukoners! It begins blooming in early to mid May through June, and prefers dry, open wooded areas. They can be found along hillside trails around Dawson—some of the best spots to see them are along the Crocus Bluff trail or the Moosehide Slide trail.
Spotted Lady Slipper Orchids
Cross the river on the George Black Ferry and head past the West Dawson lookout to find Orchid Acres. During the month of June you’ll find patches of Spotted Lady Slipper Orchids nestled along this easy 2 km trail, the only place in the Yukon to see these flowers in such abundance. Wind through the twisted aspens and find yourself at 2 different lookout points with gorgeous views of both the Yukon and Klondike Rivers.
You won’t be able to miss these bold purple flowers as you drive along the highways from July to September. The flowers begin blooming lower on the stem and move up as the summer advances. Fireweed is Yukon’s official flower due to its abundance across the territory. It’s one of the first plants to bloom after a forest fire.
Birds are one of the easiest kinds of wildlife to see! Around town you’ll recognize the ubiquitous ravens, plus white-crowned sparrows and several different kinds of warblers and swallows. Watch for hawks and eagles along roadsides. If you head out the Dempster Highway to the Blackstone Uplands, you’ll find the nesting grounds of many different species of birds, including red throated loons, willow ptarmigan, golden eagles and short eared owls. And these are just some of the feathered creatures that can be found in this rich landscape.
One of the best chances to view wildlife is actually driving along the highways, especially in the early morning or later in the evening. Moose are a common sight, especially in marshy areas, where they like to forage for aquatic weeds. Keep watch as you drive along, as these large and majestic creatures seem to appear out of forest without warning!
Foxes are another common sight along our roadsides and even right in town! Watch them trot along the gravel shoulders without a care, or dart between buildings. You can often see them hunting in the grass, stalking their prey and then leaping to pounce.
There are two herds of caribou whose migration routes bring them close to the Dawson area: the Porcupine and the Fortymile. Your best chances of seeing them are in fall and throughout the winter. The Porcupine herd moves between Yukon, North West Territories, and Alaska, covering a range of 250,000 square kilometers. The southern edge of that range extends through Tombstone Territorial Park and crosses the Dempster Highway. The Fortymile herd can be seen along the Top of the World highway.
Of course, this is just a sample of the flora and fauna you can hope to see in and around Dawson City. If you’d like a more comprehensive list of the flowers and animals around Dawson and the Yukon, check out these useful guides issued by the Yukon government: there’s one for flowers, mushrooms, and wildlife viewing. You can also pick up a copy of these pamphlets the Visitor Information Centre!