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Yukon gold: an unexpected getaway will light your fire.

VISUALIZE THE northern lights dancing across the sky, spectacular scenery all around and so much space that it feels like there are only the two of you in the world, then consider making Yukon your thrillingly romantic, and off-beat honeymoon destination. Yukon, or the Yukon Territory as it used to be known, is perched at the top-left-hand corner of Canada: a vast area considerably bigger than California with a tiny population of less than 34,000. There's a small but active lesbian and gay community in the capital, Whitehorse, the town where gender-bending writer Ivan E. Coyote, author of Bow Grip and contributor to anthologies such as Boys Like Her, hails from. It's hard to imagine that only 100 years ago fortune hunters stampeded all over the area during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Now, the pristine wilderness is the prime draw in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Whether you want to hike, canoe, wander through forests, watch wildlife or cozy up in a cabin and know that you're miles away from everything, Canada's second-least-populated territory (in human terms) is an ideal destination.

Some of Yukon's most spectacular scenery is protected in its three National Parks: Kluane National Park and Reserve, Vuntut National Park and Ivvavik National Park. Kluane, in the southwestern corner of the territory, is a United Nations World Heritage Site and the site of Canada's highest peak, Mount Logan. At nearly 20,000 feet, Logan towers above glaciers and the world's largest nonpolar ice fields. In Vuntut and Ivvavik, porcupine caribou herds have their calving grounds and over half a million migratory birds flock to the wedands. These two parks are just as stunning as Kluane, but much more remote.

If you really want those heady honeymoon days to never end, plan your postnuptial adventures for a Yukon summer, when daylight is almost continuous for three months and temperatures average in the mid 60s. Winters in this subarctic wonderland are long and dark, with almost three months when the sun doesn't get much of a chance to shine and temperatures can drop to -60[degrees] F. Although temperatures drop to these shocking depths, there's a reason people choose to brave the snow and ice: The long cold months are the best ones to see the aurora borealis. If you're determined to see the lights at their brightest, plan to visit during the new moon, between late August and mid-April. In the summer, skies are too bright to see the lights, even at times when solar wind activity, the phenomenon that creates the light show, is strong. It's a good idea to stay for as many days as possible to have the best chance of seeing the northern lights. Sightings are not guaranteed. Once there, you can check aurora activity forecasts.

If that all sounds a bit too chilly, Yukon also has some warmer attractions, the most famous being Takhini Hot Springs. The natural, odorless pools are 20 miles north of Whitehorse, with a campground, walking and equestrian trails, a climbing wall and a zip line for those times when you aren't in the mood for a dip. Nearby, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve offers up close encounters with local creatures including elk, wood bison, musk oxen, mule deer, mountain goats, woodland caribou, moose and mountain sheep, all in their natural habitat.

Plenty of outfitters and guides cater to outdoor enthusiasts, whether your passion is canoeing, kayaking, hiking, snowmobiling, ice climbing or dog sledding, but for a lesbian-specific trip, Whitehorse's Yukon Pride offers an enticing slew of packages. Its custom adventures range over the whole territory, from aurora borealis viewing and dog sledding out of Whitehorse in the south, to rugged odysseys to the far, far north, above the 60th parallel.

Whichever part of the territory appeals to you, Yukon is a thrilling place to start an adventurous life together.

RELATED ARTICLE: IF YOU GO

WHERE TO STAY

Bombay Peggy's Inn & Pub: LGBT-welcoming, woman-run, smoke-free B&B situated in a former brothel in central Dawson City. ($79 and up, bombaypeggys.com)

Casey's B&B: LGBT-welcoming, woman-run, three-room B&B with a hot tub and great food in downtown Whitehorse. ($88 and up, caseybandb.com)

Whitehouse Cabins: Seven rooms in historic buildings overlooking the Yukon River in downtown Dawson City. LGBT-friendly. ($99 and up, white-housecabins.com)

Yukon Forest Cabins: LGBT-friendly cabins, 20 minutes south of Whitehorse. ($145 and up, yukon-forestcabtns.com)

THINGS TO DO

Dawson Music Festival: Mid-July in Dawson City (dcmf.com)

Yukon international Storytelling Festival: October in Whitehorse (storytelling.yk.net)

Frostbite Music Festival: Mid-February in Whitehorse (frostbitefest.ca)

Northern Lights Centre: In Watson Lake (northernlightscentre.ca)

Takhini Hot Springs: In Whitehorse (takhinihotsprings.com)

Yukon Wildlife Preserve: In Whitehorse (yukonwildlife.ca)

Yukon Pride Adventure Tours: In Whitehorse (yukonpride.com)
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Title Annotation:HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS
Author:Mulholland, Aefa
Publication:Curve
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
Words:791
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