Last month, a friend and I flew up to Whitehorse in an attempt to view the Yukon Lights. Anytime you travel to see the Northern Lights, there’s a chance that you may not actually see them. Honestly, I didn’t think this would actually happen. After all, we stayed there for 5 nights on the darkest days of the month. Our trip to Whitehorse was still fun, but viewing the lights was a total bust.
By, the way, if you haven’t checked out my outstanding Review of Air North, please do so. I’d take them again in a heartbeat the next time I return to the Yukon.
I could make out the subtle green glow from behind the clouds, nothing more. It was like spotting the sunset through a cloud of volcanic ash. I joked earlier on about the humorous situation of merely seeing a single flicker of light on this entire trip, but as it turned out, I’d have gladly settled on seeing that flicker.
With that said, anyone who knows anything about night photography knows that you can turn night into day through your camera’s long exposure which accounts for why I’ve brought home at least some beautiful images of the lights. I have a feeling that a lot of Yukon Lights photographs don’t actually depict the photographer’s actual experience.
It was a bittersweet experience because it’s not exactly a short flight from Boston and it’s certainly not a cheap trip or a warm winter destination. We spent every night walking twenty minutes through the cold, pitch dark, snow-covered wilderness to the Yukon Lights viewing location. You know it’s a remote adventure when you’re following a set of fresh animal tracks in the snow with your flashlight in the middle of the night for a half a mile.
But it was a bad combination of cloud cover and weak frequency. We also scheduled our trip at one of the highest probabilities when the moon was at its darkest. Lady luck was definitely not on our side.
The coldest day we experienced was 0 F which was pretty damn cold, but also rather warm for Whitehorse this time of year so we were blessed with a warmer than average week in January. I can’t imagine what -30 F feels like and I don’t want to know.
We enjoyed our stay here though and if you’re interested in viewing the Yukon Lights you should think about staying at Sundog Retreat. It’s far removed from the city’s light pollution and you have your own modern furnished cabin to stay in where you can walk out and view the lights at your own convenience.
Despite the obvious disappointment, that’s pretty much the risk you assume when you plan a trip to view the Yukon Lights. And besides, I had other fun which is why I’m not too upset about not seeing the lights although it’s definitely a letdown. I’ve never visited the Yukon before so it was a nice getaway. At the very least, I got to breathe some fresh, clean air. Whitehorse offers dog mushing, ice fishing, and more too.
One day we went on a dog mushing trip and it was a highlight of the trip. This was my first time ever doing this and I tend to not enjoy skiing or activities that impair my own sense of control over my body. Well, this did and there were trees lining both sides. I was a bit uneasy for about half the journey and I even plowed into a pile of snow on the side as the dogs took off without me. But, it was an adventure and I do recommend it.
Just make sure you are medically covered abroad in case something happens.
Yukon Lights Tours & Hotel Options
When choosing a Yukon Lights tour, you can either stay at a location as we did or choose another company that will drive you to a remote location every night to view the lights. We were told that Whitehorse doesn’t tend to get as much snow as other places, so renting a car could be a good option too. But we didn’t rent a car so that was a perk of staying at an all-inclusive resort.
They drove us everywhere we needed to go within reason. With that said, if you want a better variety of perspectives to shoot the Yukon Lights, renting a car to venture out might not be a bad idea. Just be on the lookout for the wild animals that may leap in front of your car.
Helpful Articles for Yukon Lights Whitehorse
If you haven’t done so already, I also recommend my article on Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland. Depending in your preferences, if you prefer to sit around all day in a hot spring or road-tripping whist waiting for the lights to appear, you might consider Iceland as an option. The photograph below was taken at the Ion Adventure Hotel. What looks like a martian space capsule is actually a Northern Lights viewing room. How posh.
If you’re bent on seeing the Yukon Lights in Whitehorse though, I can’t blame you. I enjoyed the town of Whitehorse and also learning about the local Indian tribes. The Yukon is rugged and raw and totally off the grid, even more so than Iceland. Either way, if you want to see the lights, you’ll need a bit of luck, patience, and flexibility.