Taking a scenic flight over Kluane National Park, without a doubt one of the most beautiful parts of Canada
I could hear the rhythmic flutter of the plane’s engine all around me, its constant drone a friendly presence as we were buffeted around by the wind 5,000ft up in the air. Cold gusts flooded into the cabin as I had the window open to take photos. My hands were freezing yet I couldn’t resist going back for just one more, each one showcasing the beauty of Kluane National Park.
No matter where I looked I could see jagged mountains, each one a different shape and size, each one a different colour and texture.
“Wow, this really is something…” I whispered into my headset.
Alex, my pilot for the afternoon responded with a knowing smile. “Isn’t it just? To me, this is the most beautiful place in the world. I’m so glad I got to show you this.”
So was I. Sometimes words can never do a place justice.
That morning we set off to Haines Junction, a scenic hour and a half’s drive from Whitehorse.
Everyone we spoke to in Whitehorse, from our BnB owners at Bluejay Suites to the barista we befriended at Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters, they all seemed so happy we were heading to Haines Junction while on our visit to Whitehorse. Everyone was in agreement that this was one of the most beautiful places not just in the Yukon, but the whole of Canada.
Considering what you can do just 30 minutes from Whitehorse, the excitement levels went up a few notches.
At Carcross, a little town to the south, we came across the world’s smallest desert (yes, this is really a thing!), and on our drive to Haines Junction the barren landscape repeated itself. With golden sands and scrublands, it’s hard to imagine this is one of the coldest places in the world during winter, yet it is.
Still, as we approached Haines Junction just on the edge of Kluane National Park, these brilliant blue and white mountains that Canada’s so famous for became larger and larger bringing us back to the present. Immediately we knew everyone was right about this place.
In the scheme of things Haines Junction is tiny.
It is just one road running through the town with a cluster of houses and a handful of places to eat at.
It’s the type of place that after a day you start to feel like a local saying good morning to people as they walk past.
We got the Haines Junction around mid-morning and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Frosty Freeze before making our way over to the airfield.
Of all the activities I had planned on my tour of the Yukon, flying over Kluane National Park with Kluane Glacier Air Tours was probably the one thing I was most looking forward to doing. I think that’s easy to understand why!
As we pulled into the airfield at Kluane Glacier Air Tours, we were met by Alex. With blue skies and not a cloud in sight, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to fly.
Thankfully, they’re no strangers to photographers at Kluane Glacier Air Tours, so I was bundled into the back of a tiny four-seater Cessna with little portholes for my camera. I’ve been up in a Cessna a few times before and I absolutely love it when they have portholes – it really makes a difference when taking photos not having any reflections!
Anyway, we knew we were in good hands with Alex and it wasn’t long before we were up in the air zooming over lakes and rivers.
One of the things that makes Kluane National Park so famous is that there’s a huge glacier right in the heart of it, and that’s where we were heading.
It wasn’t long before we dipped our wings to get a better view of the glacier, a gigantic black and white road cutting through the mountains, tall peaks either side of it.
It’s hard to comprehend how big this glacier is, or indeed how big the whole of Kluane National Park is. We flew around for an hour and yet we barely scratched the surface, and I felt we glimpsed just a tiny subsection of its beauty.
As a photographer, I absolutely love these scenic flights and I’m always so pumped with the photos I get. I feel each one is worth more than the experience itself.
As I said though, of all the things we were doing in the Yukon, this was the one that I was most looking forward to, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
To make the day even more special, we were in Haines Junction at a very special time of the year – the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival was on.
Even though Haines Junction is minuscule, people come from all over the Yukon travel here for this cute little festival, and it was amazing immersing ourselves in this unique experience, one I knew would never happen again.
To kick things off we went down to Village Bakery & Deli for the community salmon bake.
This is where everyone comes together each Friday for the incredibly delicious BBQ salmon and to hang out and catch up on the weeks’ gossip.
It just so happened that the Village Bakery & Deli was one of the venues for the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival, and while we ate and sunk a couple of Yukon beers we had the dulcet tones of The Bennett Sun, an all-girl group perfect for the surroundings and settings we were in.
As the evening drew on we watched a number of bluegrass bands, a couple even coming up all the way from Tennessee in the States.
I have to admit, I used to be a big fan of bluegrass (that has something to do with a lot of Canadian friends!), and I loved seeing all this live music. You really couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting too.
After so many people talked up Haines Junction and Kluane National Park, there’s always the worry that it’s going to fall short of expectation.
Everyone said this place was one of the most beautiful in all of the Yukon, a province that could arguably take the prize as the most beautiful in all of Canada. That’s quite the reputation.
Was it? For that answer you’re going to have to see for yourself…
If you’re looking at exploring the Yukon yourself, Canadian Affair’s ‘In the Footsteps of the Yukon Pioneers‘ package offers an amazing itinerary taking in some of the regions best sites and attractions.
My trip to the Yukon was part of Destination Canada’s and Canadian Affair’s campaign discovering some of the best things to do in and around Whitehorse. As always, views are entirely my own and without bias.
Have you ever been to Canada before? If so, have you ever made it up to the Yukon? What did you think of it? And what are some of your favourite things to do in Whitehorse? Let me know in the comments below!
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