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Holland America Cruise Tours  The Yukon

Alaska and the Yukon. These vast regions of unspoiled wilderness share more than a rollicking gold rush past. Their natural history is also intertwined; plate tectonics, volcanic upheaval and glacial scouring have created a wonderland of untamed beauty. From the stunning massifs of Kluane to the ancient arctic vistas of Tombstone, it is the land and the power of nature that are on display.

The spell of the Yukon, immortalized by Jack London and Robert W. Service, is an enduring lure as you travel via the legendary Yukon River and the famed Alaska Highway, exploring country that is still wild and less populated than it was in the 1890's. Incidents affecting Western culture had a hand in creating the Yukon's colorful history. In the midst of a worldwide depression, men rushed to the Yukon gold fields in search of wealth. Their tales are preserved at the Klondike National Historic Park in Skagway and at the National Historic Sites in Dawson and Whitehorse. The stories are rugged and ribald. The characters were daring and desperate. Through it all, the land has always been alluring, forbidding and beautiful.

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The Yukon Climate

Summers are fairly warm with nearly 24 hour daylight in June and July. Winters are cold with short days and little sun December to February.

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The Yukon Vegetation

The Yukon's vegetation can be classified as sub-arctic and alpine. Many shrubs and flowers are found in areas above and north of the treeline. Boreal forests cover 57% of the territory. White spruce, black spruce, lodgepole pine, tamarack, aspen and balsam poplar are the most common tree species.

More than 200 species of wildflowers are found in the Yukon. They include anemones, yellow potentilla, monkshood, arctic poppy, harebell, wild rose, lupines, lousewort, wintergreen (pyrola) and beardtongue (penstemon). One of the most commonly seen flowers is the tall magenta fireweed, the Yukon's official flower. It lines the roads and covers burn areas throughout the territory in July and August. Alpine areas are dotted with moss campions, wild forget-me-nots and mountain avens.

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The Yukon Wildlife

Seeing wildlife is often the highlight of a trip in Yukon. Yukon enjoys many special northern species not common or found in lower latitudes.

There are an estimated 65,000 to 70,000 moose in the Yukon. That is about two moose for every person in the territory. There are 23 separate herds of Woodland or Mountain Caribou scattered throughout the Yukon with a total population estimated at about 30,000 animals. There is also the Barren Ground Caribou which number 125,000. The Yukon is home to an estimated 22,000 thin horn sheep. Most are pure white Dall sheep. Grizzlies range throughout the Yukon and have an estimated population of 6,000 to 7,000 animals. The Yukon Black Bear population is estimated at 10,000 animals. Yukon's wolf population is about 4,500. Wolves are found over the entire Yukon but are more abundant where moose numbers are high.

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The Yukon Excursions

Visit the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and view northern animals in their natural environment while touring through panoramic valleys, marshlands and hillsides. Or experience the Whitehorse City Tour with a trip about the MV Schwatka, through Miles Canyon, and enjoy a scenic, narrated tour of several points of interest including the Golden Horn, Mount Lorne and the Copper Belt. Jeep tours and river float trips are available for the more adventurous. Or, take advantage of the opportunity to visit one of the Yukon's premier dogsled facilities and learn about the training and care of Alaskan Huskies.

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