Carcross, the charming lakeshore village that is teeming with gold-rush and First Nations history is only a short 40 minute drive away from Whitehorse. Its name may lead you to believe it is a hotspot for automobiles it is actually a shortened form of the name Caribou Crossing. This name came from the herds of Caribou that once migrated through the narrow strip of land between Bennett and Nares lakes in the days prior to the gold rush. This quaint town is booming with history and is just waiting for tourists to stop in and visit. From the home of Skookum Jim, one of the men credited with finding gold that spawned the Klondike Gold Rush, the oldest operating building in the Yukon, the worlds smallest desert and so much more Carcross, Yukon has so much to offer.
Here are the top 6 things to do while visiting Carcross, Yukon!
Carcross is home to the worlds smallest desert – one beautiful mile of rolling sand dunes. Although technically not a real desert as the area is considered too humid, this geological anomaly is a must see sight while in Carcross. Approximately 10,000 years ago the great ice sheets that covered the majority of North America began to melt and ice dams created a series of glacial lakes that submerges some valleys under as much as 300 metres of melt water. The glacial Lake Watson disappeared during this time and with the Watson Lake cut through the bottom sediments now allows for sand and silk into Bennet lake. This constant supply of sand makes the Carcross Desert a very unique and dynamic system.
Mathew Watson General Store
The historic Matthew Watson General Store was built in 1898 as the Vandome Hotel and was eventually converted over to the Matthew Watson General Store. This is the oldest continually running business in the Yukon Territory. The Watson family ran the store for many years and it still is open and operating today.
Sternwheeler SS Tutshi Remains
The SS Tutshi was built by the British Yukon Navigation Company in 1917 at Carcross and was in service until 1955. In 1971 the SS Tutshi began a restoration project to bring it back to its original beauty when it caught fire near the end of the restoration. The skeletal frame and what was left of the sternwheeler is left sitting along the lakeshore in Carcross with a wooden frame show casing what the ship would have looked like if it remained whole today.
Visit the Duchess
The Duchess was once part of a matched set – her and her partner, the Duke were built in 1878 to haul coal and then later tourism. She went out of service in 1919 and moved to Carcross for all to see in 1950 where she has stayed ever since.
Visit Carcross Commons
Make sure to spend sometime exploring the Carcross Commons with 20 artisans that make unique and locally made souvenirs. This unique retail village features beautifully, hand crafted Tlingit-inspired totem poles, jewellery, art and much more. Grab a bite to eat or drink or just explore the beautifully decorated shops.
Visit St. Saviour’s Church
This quaint white church was formed in 1901 and is one of the earliest influences of Chirstianity in ths area. Sookum Jim’s daughter, Daisy Mason, was the first person to be baptized in this which is 1901. The actual white uilding was build in 1094 and was floated across the river in 1917 to its current resting plae. The church still holds service every first and third Sunday at 11:00 a.m.