Appropriately named "Wilderness City," Whitehorse is located on the banks of the Yukon River amid beautiful mountains and lakes. First Nations people used the land around Whitehorse for thousands of years before the discovery of gold in the late 19th century led to the Klondike Gold Rush and a population boom. The city was then named for the White Horse Rapids on Yukon River, said to resemble the mane of a white horse, which stood as an obstacle to those looking for gold. The rapids are now submerged in Schwatka Lake, formed by the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the 1950s. Just like during the Gold Rush, mining remains an important aspect of the city's economy today, in addition to transportation, government services and tourism. A major draw for tourists is the breathtaking aurora borealis, or northern lights, set across the Yukon sky.
Priding itself on small town hospitality, this city of 25,000 also offers the Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Sourdough Rendezvous' Ice Sculpture contest, Frostbite Music Festival, Yukon International Storytelling Festival, and the Yukon Quest, the world's most difficult dog sled race from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse.