Schwatka Lake and Miles Canyon
Cross the bridge beside the SS Klondike and take Lewis Boulevard south or walk along the riverside trail south 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) toward the Whitehorse Dam that created Schwatka Lake, tamed the once-feared White Horse Rapids, and now provides electricity for the city.
The world’s longest wooden fishway (366 m/1,200 ft) allows fish to get around the dam and up to their spawning grounds upriver. Three underwater windows inside the fishway building (867/633-5965, June–early Sept. daily 8:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.) give you a good look at the chinook (king) salmon (late July–early Sept. is best).
From the dam, continue south on Chadburn Lake Road to the head of the lake where the Yukon River flows through spectacular Miles Canyon. A path along the canyon leads to the distinctive Lowe Suspension Bridge (1923), the first bridge across the Yukon—the views are superb.
Continue two kilometers (1.2 miles) beyond the bridge, staying on the east side, to reach the site of Canyon City, which slipped into oblivion after the opening of the railway in 1900 put an end to river travel above Whitehorse.
As an alternative to accessing these sights by road, consider walking. It’s 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) round-trip from downtown, with the option of crossing the suspension bridge and returning along the west bank of the river, or jumping aboard a city transit bus (hourly along South Access Rd.) to get back to town.
Another way to see the lake and surrounding sights is with Yukon River Cruises (867/668-4716, adult $30, child $15) aboard the MV Schwatka, a tour boat that departs daily at 2 p.m. June–early September (plus 6 p.m. in mid-July to mid-Aug.) for two-hour cruises. The departure point is along Miles Canyon Road one kilometer (0.6 miles) south of downtown on the west side of the dam.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition