A winter wonderland!

Winter time fun in Kluane begins as soon as the snow arrives and the lakes freeze over, but the longer days of February and March are generally the best months for winter recreation. Cross country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, backcountry camping and snowmobiling are all fun filled opportunities in Kluane National Park and Reserve.

Please remember

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Open fires are only permitted on the ice surface of Kathleen Lake, in the steel fire rings (located throughout the Park), and at random backcountry campsites.


Cross country skiing

Cross country skiers

Whether you are a novice or a veteran - whether you want to ski for an hour, a day or a week - Kluane National Park & Reserve (KNP&R) offers something for everyone.

Skiing may mean following a skier set trail, or breaking your own trail across Kluane's vast wilderness. Ski trails in Kluane are not packed or track set, and may have an occasional tree fallen across them, but this just adds to the adventure of the experience.

Descriptions of the main trails are found at Trails.

Telemark skiing and snowboarding

Mount Decoeli (25 km N of Haines Junction) and the Chilkat Pass (144 km S on Haines Highway) are popular areas adjacent to the park & reserve for telemark skiing and snowboarding. Avalanche conditions are prevalent in these areas. Please use caution.

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling on Kathleen Lake

In Kluane National Park & Reserve, snowmobiling is only permitted in the following locations:

  • The pipeline right-of-way, adjacent to the Haines Highway (Dezadeash River Bridge to old Dezadeash Lake Lodge)
  • The access road between the Haines Highway and the Kathleen Lake Day Use Area
  • The ice surface of Kathleen Lake

Snowmobiles must be registered and properly equipped when operated on roads and parking lots, operators must be licensed, and both operators and passengers are required to wear helmets.

Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is also a popular pastime in Kluane.

If you are following the ski trails, please avoid skiers' tracks, by walking to the side.

Dog sledding

Dog sleds may be used for day trips or overnight stays in the park & reserve. Contact the park for information and guidelines.

Ice fishing

Ice fishing at Kathleen Lake
Ice fishing at Kathleen Lake

A valid Kluane National Park and Reserve fishing license is required for all angling in the park.

Fishing licenses may be purchased at Hougen's Sportlodge or the Parks Canada office (Room 205 - 300 Main Street) in Whitehorse or at some of the businesses in the Kluane National Park & Reserve region.

Ice fishing huts and tents may be used on the surface of Kathleen Lake, but must be removed when leaving the area.

Kathleen Lake and Day Use Area – winter use

Campfire at Kathleen Lake

The road to the lake shore and day use area will be kept open for the winter. This provides access to a beautiful winter wonderland with plenty of opportunities.

Visitors can ski, snowshoe, dog sled, ice fish, snowmobile or enjoy the view from inside the day use shelter.

Overnight use of the Kathleen Lake Shelter is prohibited.

Backcountry camping

Winter camping

Backcountry permits are required for all overnight activities within the Kluane Icefields area of the park.

For all other areas of the park (outside the Kluane Icefields area and the Kathleen Lake Day Use Parking Lot), overnight camping is allowed without a permit between November 16 and March 31.

The use of bear resistant food canisters is not required between November 16 and March 31.

Trails

The following trails are used for a variety of activities such as skiing, snowshoeing and walking. Trail distances are one way, unless otherwise stated.

Novice: Limited ski experience required. Few hills.
Intermediate: Need to be comfortable with hills and negotiating corners. Ski experience required.
Advanced: Need to have strong skiing skills

1. Dezadeash River

Starting point: Dezadeash River Day Use Area (near the weigh scales)
Distance: 5 km (loop trail)
Skill level: Novice
Avalanche terrain: None
Note: A winding trail through stands of poplar and spruce.

2. Auriol Trail

Starting point: 7 km south of Haines Junction on the Haines Road
Distance: 15 km (loop trail)
Skill level: Intermediate/Advanced
Avalanche terrain: Class 2 – Challenging. There is exposure to terrain traps along some parts of the trail.
Note: loop trail leading through open meadows and mixed forest, sub-alpine and alpine zones provide excellent views of the Shakwak and Dezadeash River valleys. There are some steep sections.

3. Kathleen Lake

Starting Point: 27 km south of Haines Junction on the Haines Road
Distance: varied
Skill level: Novice to Intermediate
Avalanche terrain: None
Note: unmarked skiing opportunities include the campground loop, trail to day use area and on the lake surface.

4. Cottonwood Trail

Starting points: 27 or 55 km south of Haines Junction on the Haines Road
Distance: 85 km loop
Skill level: Advanced
Avalanche terrain: Class 3 – Complex. Exposure to multiple overlapping avalanche paths or large expanses of steep open terrain; multiple avalanche starting zones and terrain traps below.
Note: a 4 to 5 day trip across lakes, through mixed forest to high alpine country returning to the Haines Highway.

5. Mush Lake Road

Starting point: 55 km south of Haines Junction on the Haines Road
Distance: 21.6 km one way
Skill level: Intermediate
Avalanche terrain: None
Note: an abandoned mining road from the Haines Road to Mush Lake.

6. St. Elias Lake

Starting point: 60 km south of Haines Junction on the Haines Road
Distance: 4 km one way
Skill level: Intermediate
Avalanche terrain: Class 2 – Challenging: There is exposure to avalanche paths and terrain traps along some parts of this trail.
Note: An old recreational road to an alpine lake. Some steep sections with some areas prone to avalanche.

7. Forestry Trails 

These trails are outside Kluane National Park & Reserve and may be maintained by volunteers.
Starting Point: 5 km north of Haines Junction on the Alaska Highway
Distance: 3.5 km loop and 5 km loop
Skill level: Novice
Avalanche terrain: None.
Note: a network of short loop trails winding through a spruce forest.