Rather than drive straight through to Whitehorse, many travelers hang a left at Jake’s Corner to Carcross (a contraction of “caribou crossing”), on Highway 2 between Skagway  (Alaska) and Whitehorse . This picturesque village of 400 sits at the north end of Lake Bennett, which forms the headwaters of the Yukon River. It was an important stopping point for miners during the Klondike gold rush and today is chock-a-block with buildings from that era.
Make your first stop the Carcross Visitor Information Centre (867/821-4431, early May–late Sept. daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m., July–Aug. daily 8 a.m.–8 p.m.), housed in a railway station that served passengers along the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR). It contains not only brochures from all over the Yukon , but also fine historical exhibits.
WP&YR trains crossed the original “swing bridge” in town, built to allow the riverboats to pass; walk across the bridge for a look back. A footbridge is just north of this. In the old Carcross cemetery, two kilometers (1.2 miles) away, rest such stampede-starting notables as Skookum Jim, Tagish Charlie, and Kate Carmack.
The standout lodging is on Spirit Lake, a 10-minute drive north of Carcross toward Whitehorse . At Spirit Lake Wilderness Resort (867/821-4337 or 866/739-8566, www.spiritlakeyukon.com ) the lakeside cabins ($75 s or d) are my pick for the views and rustic charm, although they don’t have electricity or running water (shared shower facilities). Other choices are cottages ($65 s or d) and motel rooms ($99 s or d) that lack the atmosphere but are more comfortable. Tent sites are $25 and hookups $30–35. Activities include canoeing and horseback riding and there’s an on-site restaurant.
Wheaton River Wilderness Retreat (867/668-2997, www.wheatonriver.net , $125 s or d) is truly in the wilderness, 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) along Annie Lake Road, which branches off Highway 2 north of Spirit Lake. Accommodation is offered for up to four people in a riverfront cabin constructed with timber milled onsite by the owners. The interior is spacious, airy, and modern, with wooden furniture carved by the owners. Breaskfast is $10 per person, and other meals are also available; or you can cook up a feast yourself on the wood stove or barbecue.