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3 Reasons to go to Whitehorse

by Mark W Freeman

Even the most ardent city slicker will beg to stay in Whitehorse after only spending a couple of days there. Whitehorse, the capital of Canada's Yukon Territory, is no longer just a toilet break for the RV crowd or a refuge for disaffected hippies. It is becoming the cultural adventure capital of the north. After bussing cross-country through the hick towns of Calgary and Edmonton, arriving in Whitehorse was like experiencing a personal renaissance. In the summer, the population of the city explodes with an influx of diverse international travellers, bringing a truly cosmopolitan feel not found anywhere else on the west coast except in Vancouver. If you combine the usefulness and camaraderie of an Australian roadhouse with the multilingual charm and alpine beauty of a Swiss town, then throw in a couple of bears, you've almost got Whitehorse.

Now most people don't think about going to Whitehorse but there are several reasons why you should pay the city a visit, even if it's just for a quick day trip down the Yukon River in a kayak. First of all, if you're a traveller, this city is for you. At the hostel, I shared a room with one Danish girl about to embark on a month-long canoe trip through remote bush and a German high-school student finishing up a bike trip she started in Argentina. Situated on the Yukon river, with the Alaska Highway running through the middle of town, the city acts as an international crossroads drawing eco-travellers, adventurists, sightseers and even one or two gold miners. According to the locals, every stream in the hills surrounding the city still has gold in it.

The second reason to come is the people. Cars actually stop to let pedestrians cross the road, even if it means holding up the whole Alaska Highway! The people were so nice in Whitehorse, in fact, that one man gave us a free bike tour into the mountains since the scheduled tours had just ended for the season. When you do go, make sure you go in the middle of the summer - the weather is beautiful, the sun never sets and the natural environment will blow away all expectations. Nature rules in Whitehorse. The town is wonderfully isolated among bare stone hills draped in dark nets of pine trees.

The third reason, and probably the most unexpected, is the night life. With a healthy community of artists and musicians, the numerous bars and  nightclubs in town pump out live music to the hoards of exhausted travelers and locals long into the morning. Whitehorse is the coolest, most civilized  town in the forest you'll ever visit and odds are none of your friends have ever been there either. Whether it's a stop on the way to the far north or a  destination unto itself, visit this breathtaking town on its jade-green river. Your friends will be jealous.

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