Photograph the Aurora Borealis from the Yukon Crossing

Rate this Adventure Canada Yukon Crossing

  • Activities:

    Photography

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

Easy Parking
Romantic
Scenic

Starting in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, make your way north to witness the Aurora Borealis. The Aurora Borealis is truly a phenomenon that leaves you without words.

Whitehorse is one of the most popular jump off points for chasing the aurora simply because of how far north the city is, as well as the city's size. This guide will take you to the Yukon Crossing from Whitehorse since the further north you get the better your chances will be of being the aurora! (Whitehorse is just about 400 miles shy of the Arctic Circle).

During the winter months you have a much higher chance of seeing the aurora as long as you have clear skies. The aurora can also be seen in autumn and spring which is why I listed those times of year for the purpose of this adventure, however your highest chances are in the dead of winter. In winter you have shorter days and darker skies, but the weather can also be more severe, so I recommend giving yourself a minimum of at least 2 weeks to maximize your chances of seeing clear skies. We spent 2 1/2 weeks and saw about 4 days of clear skies and saw the aurora each of those nights.

Now once you have clear skies and enough gas to get fairly far out, you're going to want to proceed north along the Alaska Highway 1 and keep right onto the Klondike Highway, which will take you on a straight shot north through a town called Carmacks. After passing through Carmacks you will cross the Pelly River - this crossing is known as the Yukon Crossing. At this point you can just stop and wait. Upon crossing the river there are many beautiful turn outs that have absolutely beautiful scenery.

During the winter months the aurora happens almost nightly if the skies are clear. Now at this point you can either keep driving and keep your eyes peeled or you can stop and wait (don't worry, in winter these roads see very little traffic so if you pull off you won't be in anybody's way). What you're going to be looking for is what looks like a faint glow in the sky almost like a distant city - this is how the aurora starts and it can be fairly hard to spot. Once you see this it can be a matter of seconds or minutes but all of a sudden you will watch the sky explode into a dance of undulating colors from greens, reds and pinks. I will link pictures of the aurora in full force, as well as just starting, but trust me when you see a full auroral display you'll know, and your life will be forever changed.

If you are not comfortable traveling by yourself in these harsh environments, Whitehorse is also home to many aurora tours where you can have a guide take you out to chase the aurora.

Photography Tips* Use a camera with at least a 20 second exposure time (Full Frame preferably)* Use a lens with at least an f-stop of 2.8 if not lower* Don't use an ISO higher than 400 to prevent noise* Use a tripod

Pack List

  • Reliable Car (4x4 if possible)
  • Warm Clothes (In winter months it can easily drop well below 0 F)
  • Shovel
  • Chairs
  • Hand Warmers
  • Food (You can be out there for a while)
  • Camera with a 20 second or more exposure time
  • Travel Journal (You'll want to document your thoughts after a moment like this)
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David Fontneau

Adventure and Landscape Photographer. Chasing the purity of a moment.

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