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What Is Kluane National Park?

By Debra Barnhart
Updated May 23, 2024
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Located in the Yukon district of Canada, Kluane National Park and Reserve is a geographical palace of mountains and ice. Hiking and rafting are some of the favorite tourist activities at this park. The Southern Tutchone Indians have resided in the park for thousands of years, and together with Parks Canada, they are the caretakers of this beautiful park.

Kluane National Park and Reserve is a land of extremes and a perfect place for those who want to test themselves outdoors. The park contains the highest peak in Canada, Mount Logan, which is part of the Saint Elias Mountains. It also has largest ice-fields outside of the North and South Poles, but at lower elevations the warmer valleys are filled with a diversity of plants and animals. Two lakes, Kathleen Lake and Mush Lake, permit motorized boats as well as canoeing.

A variety of hiking and camping experiences, for both beginners and experts, are available at Kluane National Park and Reserve. Novice hikers might opt for a guided tour, while expert hikers can explore the ice-fields and stay overnight. Some trails and routes require solid hiking skills and a strong sense of direction.

Whatever the level of outdoors expertise, planning for the unexpected is advised. Kluane National Park is not a place for the faint of heart. Weather changes, steep terrain, swollen streams and grizzly bears make caution a necessity for safety. Hikers are warned to make a lot of noise so that any nearby bears will have advanced notice of human presence and will not be surprised or feel cornered.

Kluane National Park has the largest population of grizzly bears in Canada. Other park wildlife includes golden and bald eagles, sheep, mountain goats and caribou. The lakes and streams are filled with fish, including trout, and fishing is allowed with a permit.

The Southern Tutchone, the indigenous people of Kluane National Park and Reserve, developed ways of surviving the extremes of this area over many thousands of years. Their nomadic lifestyle enabled them to take advantage of seasonal food opportunities. In 1943 the Southern Tutchone were denied access to fishing and hunting in the Kluane Game Sanctuary, which was established that year. This denial of access was reversed when the Kluane National Park and Reserve was created, and the Southern Tutchone have now reclaimed their land. These people now share management of the park, and their knowledge of the land is key to helping preserve its natural resources.

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Discussion Comments

By Mykol — On Dec 19, 2011

@myharley - Yes, I agree with everything you said. This is simply stunning territory. I don't know what part of the year you were there, but we were there in July.

I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if I had been visiting in the middle of winter, but I bet the scenery is just as breath taking.

We stayed at a Swiss lodge for a couple nights that had the best food, and the hospitality couldn't be beat.

We also met people from all over the world who were staying at this lodge. This is a place my husband had always wanted to visit. I wasn't quite as excited about it at first, but it quickly became one of the best trips we have taken.

By myharley — On Dec 18, 2011

We visited Kluane National Park a few years ago, and it is one of the most beautiful and spectacular places I have ever seen.

If you like busy, fast paced places with lots of restaurants and entertainment choices, this is not the place for you!

At times you can feel pretty isolated in this remote area, but the scenery and wildlife are amazing.

The local people we came in contact with along the way were all very friendly and helpful. This is a place I would love to return to and enjoy for a few more days.

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