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Underground Fun In The Klondike

Underground Fun In The Klondike

Things to do in Dawson City that you won’t find in your guidebook
By Katharine Sandiford
Feb 23
From the Jan/Feb 2018 Issue

Solstice party on the dome: Ring in the height of summer by joining the strange-things-done party atop The Dome on June 21. It’s where you’ll find a clean cross-section of Dawson’s summer population: equal parts bongo-slapping hippies, camcorder-clutching RV-campers, fancy-clad wedding-party goers, card-dealers, can-can dancers, well-to-do tourists and the janitorial staff that clean their toilets. It’s the biggest, weirdest gathering of humans you’ll find this close to the Arctic Circle this summer.

Run a fishwheel: Want to pluck juicy salmon out of a fish-catching fish wheel on the Yukon River? Sign up for the little-known two-hour tour with Fishwheel Charters to get what might be your most authentic experience in the Klondike. Let owner-guides Dawn Kisoun and Tommy Taylor, members of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, take you down the river to their family fish camp where you’ll hear stories, taste fresh bannock, and check out the fish wheel. “It’s the real deal,” says Paul Robitaille at the Klondike Visitors Association. “It’s the best way to get that connection with the local people and culture here.”

Ride the ferry back and forth: The 50-year-old George Black Ferry does more than just shuttle foot traffic and vehicles across the Yukon River to the Top of the World Highway, or off-grid West Dawson—it’s a place where people slow down to connect with each other for 15 minutes. “And why not?” says
Robitaille. “People just love that boat.”

Rest in paddlewheel. Photo by Murray Lundberg

Visit the paddlewheel graveyard: You may think you are walking through the ribcage of a brontosaurus overgrown with weeds. In fact, it’s the haunting remains and rusting machinery of once-majestic sternwheelers dumped to decay here in a pile on the banks of the Yukon River. This is the Sternwheel Graveyard, an unsigned, 10-minute walk away from the ferry terminal on the west shore.
Visit at your own risk.

No pooches were harmed to make this drink. Photo courtesy Humane Society Dawson

Shoot a dog ball highball: Everybody’s heard of the Sour Toe Cocktail—it’s a Dawson City rite of passage to touch your lips to the desiccated toe. Now there’s this: the Dog Ball Highball. A pair of dog testicles in a glass of Yukon Jack for you to shoot back. “People think we’re crazy, but it’s a hoot and it’s such a good fundraiser,” says Kim Martens, shelter coordinator at Humane Society Dawson. She offers her oral dog ball experience roughly six nights a year at various drinking establishments and charges $5—not including your drink. Check the HSD Facebook page for the next scheduled event.