The appeal of seeing the northern lights and the unfiltered stars is the biggest, and only, reason you would go to Whitehorse. Whitehorse is a stellar place to experience the aurora borealis without the city lights and city living encumbrances. Only 2 hours and 15 minutes by plane, Whitehorse is a small town with a lot of snow.
We stayed at the Sundog Retreat (http://sundogretreat.com) which is a collection of small cottages spread out over a tree spotted field. The cottages provide a kitchen, living area, BBQ and deck, which gives you all the personal space you need to relax after staying up all night in the hope of seeing the lights. The best time of year to see the lights is late-August to mid-April and the chances increase the longer you stay. A week-long visit would be best if you want to keep your chances high.
The lodge offers a variety of activities for the day time (assuming you have any energy left after staying up all night), including dog sledding, ice fishing, and tours of the town. We tried dog-sledding, which we expected would be a nice, relaxing activity for the afternoon. Oh how we were wrong. If you have seen any movie where a train is speeding along the tracks and it can’t be slowed down, but it’s speeding towards a collapsed bridge, then you have a good idea of what dog sledding is like.
We began by being introduced to our dogs and being told which ones like to fight, which ones shouldn’t be near to each other and which ones are best buddies. I’m not sure what this feeble advice is for, as the dogs don’t really care what you think. They are individuals and they will do as they please. They would make great activists. Give them a protest sign, dreadlocks, and a beard and they would change the world or at least think they could. Dog sledding increases your skills in hanging on so tight your knuckles pop through your skin and suppressing screams for help. For those who enjoy excitement in their lives, this is the activity for you. Just make sure you have a decent tolerance for fear and a comprehensive insurance policy.
After a terror-sweat induced day we relaxed on our deck, wearing all our winter gear, a local Yukon Brewing Company beer in our hand, and watched the sun set behind an orderly row of snow-capped mountains. The smell of bison cooking on the grill filled the crisp breeze that nipped at our noses. As the light vanished from the sky, the northern lights started to shimmer on the same horizon. We watched the galactic artistry in the sky and reflected on just how lucky we are to be little eating, breathing dots on this earth. This, I think, is the point of it all.