When you think of Canada, vast landscapes of lush forests, majestic mountains, and pristine lakes likely come to mind. However, tucked away in the heart of the Yukon lies a fascinating anomaly – Carcross Desert. Often referred to as the “Smallest Desert in the World,” this unique destination is a captivating blend of mystery, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure. In this guide, we will unveil the secrets of this Desert, exploring its wonders, what to do, how to reach it, and the best times to visit this extraordinary place.
Getting There- Carcross Desert
Carcross Desert is situated near the village of Carcross in the southern Yukon, Canada. It’s easily accessible by road, making it a fantastic addition to any Yukon or Alaska road trip.
The Yukon experiences a subarctic climate, with long, cold winters and short, warm summers. Therefore, the best time to visit this Desert is during the summer months, typically from June to August. This is when the desert’s unique features are most accessible, and the weather is milder for outdoor activities.
The Mystery of Carcross Desert
Carcross Desert’s existence is, in itself, an enigma. How did a desert come to be in the midst of a region known for its harsh, cold climate and breathtaking wilderness? The explanation lies in the glacial history of the area. This Desert is actually a series of sand dunes formed at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. As the massive glaciers retreated, they left behind fine silt and sand that eventually became the sandy expanse we see today.
What to Do at Carcross Desert?
Carcross Desert’s stark contrast to the surrounding forests and mountains makes it a paradise for photographers. The dunes, combined with the striking backdrop, offer a unique setting for capturing some truly memorable shots.
Sandboarding and Sledding
Yes, you read that right! You can indulge in sandboarding or sand sledding on the dunes. It’s a thrilling activity that will make you feel like you’re in the heart of a real desert.
Hiking and Nature Walks
The area around this Desert offers hiking trails that allow you to explore both the dunes and the surrounding boreal forest. You’ll encounter a variety of flora and fauna along the way.
The region is a great spot for birdwatching. Keep an eye out for various bird species, including the gray jay and pine grosbeak, in the forested areas around the dunes.
Visit Carcross Village
Don’t forget to explore the charming village of Carcross, which is known for its rich indigenous culture and unique shops. You can also visit the historic Carcross Commons for local crafts and cuisine.
How do I get to Carcross Desert?
You can reach this Desert by driving along the South Klondike Highway from Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital. The village of Carcross is easily accessible by road, and the desert is just a short drive from there.
Are there any guided tours available in Carcross Desert?
Yes, you can find local tour operators who offer guided experiences of the Desert and the surrounding area. These tours provide insights into the desert’s unique history and ecology.
Is the sandboarding suitable for beginners?
Absolutely! Sandboarding is suitable for all levels of experience, and local outfitters provide equipment and instructions for beginners.
Are there any restrictions on visiting Carcross Desert?
While the dunes are open to the public, it’s essential to respect the environment by staying on designated paths and not disturbing the flora and fauna.
Can I camp at Carcross Desert?
Camping is not allowed at the Carcross Desert site, but there are campgrounds nearby in the village of Carcross and in the surrounding area.
Carcross Desert is one of the Yukon’s hidden gems, a place that defies expectations and offers a unique desert experience in the heart of Canada’s northern wilderness. Whether you’re captivated by the mystery of its origin, eager for sandboarding adventures, or simply seeking a remarkable natural landscape to explore, this Desert has something to offer every traveler. So, plan your visit during the warm months, and be prepared to immerse yourself in the extraordinary world of this Canadian desert oasis.