Icefields, alpine wildflowers, tundra, crystalline rivers, mountain bluebirds, wolves and grizzlies. Kluane National Park and Reserve is famed for its pristine wilderness and gut-wrenching beauty. But few have seen this Canadian treasure, tucked into the remote and untamed southwest corner of the Yukon Territory, with massive Mount Logan standing guard. Until now.
Scouts from the Seattle, WA-based Holland America Line were looking for new tours to draw younger, more outdoorsy clientele to the Alaska cruises. These folks were so blown away by Kluane’s beauty, they added it to their roster, then persuaded Parks Canada to create an exclusive program of guided hikes.
Now, Alaska-bound cruisers from Vancouver, BC can easily explore one of North America’s last frontiers. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, Kluane boasts five of the continent’s seven highest mountains. Plus, it’s flanked by Alaska’s St. Elias Park and Glacier Bay National Park, as well as Tatshenshini Alsek Wilderness Park in British Columbia. And because of the area’s potpourri of air currents, the plant and wildlife are some of Canada’s most diverse.
For the hardcore, there’s a full-day grind to bag King’s Throne. Desk jockeys can tackle the guided trek through bear country (grizzly, black bear) on foot or single-track. There’s also rafting on the Tatshenshini through 150-m-high canyon walls and rapids. Or, forget the high adrenalin altogether and stroll with a Parks Canada naturalist through the forest spotting thrushes, yellow-rumped warblers, maybe even a mink or a wolf. Who knows? www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/yt/kluane www.touryukon.com www.hollandamerica.com
Reach Kluane via Haines Junction (160 km west of Whitehorse, YT) on the Alaska Highway. Many visitors take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system to Haines or Skagway and drive to Haines Junction from there.
The CTC produced a version of this story for its GoMedia website.