UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Kluane National Park

Boasting the wonders of the St Elias Mountains, ice fields, glacial lakes, wild rivers and pristine forests it’s easy to see why Kluane National Park in Canada is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Kluane National Park, Canada

Interpretive trails and exhibits will introduce you to the wonders of one of North Americas most awe-inspiring wilderness preserves. Let’s see why you should pay it a visit.

Kluane National Park

Canada’s tallest peak is in there for starters as are five peaks over 4,500 metres. You will be able to see the greatest accumulation of glaciers outside the polar regions and spot bears, caribou, moose, wolves and foxes. There is also one of the most daunting white water rivers on the planet.

With 22,000 square kilometres Kluane is Canada’s largest national park and there are operational roads or infrastructure of any kind. Kluane National Park has thankfully been left in peace .

There are three ways to visit it. Fly over to get a sense of the unimaginable scope of its icy, mountainous interior; day hike its perimeter or load up your pack and head on in.

Day hikes can range from an hour to a full day and can take you along rivers, through forests or up mountains. All hikes have been selected for their unique beauty: an alpine lake, a rock glacier, an alpine cirque, a mountain meadow, views into the 4,500 metre Icefield Ranges, and with the opportunity to see wildlife.

But the longer hikes appeal to many; take the Cottonwood, for instance. On its 83 kilometres, you travel through spruce forests, trip over two mountain passes, stroll through open alpine meadows and challenge daunting creeks that require as much imagination as courage to cross.

So what’s the point? Well, you’re in untamed nature, magnificent to look at, challenging to face, inspiring to feel and there’s a good chance you’ll see who you’re sharing it with: Dall sheep, mountain goat, grizzly and black bear, ptarmigan, owl and moose. To understand, you kind of have to be there.

And then there are the forays deep into the park where you may walk where no one has stepped before. You’ll need licensed guides for these but this can be organised. These leaders have the knowledge and expertise to help you understand why Kluane is considered one of the pre-eminent nature parks on the planet.

Mountains and more mountains

The St Elias Mountains in Kluane National Park are the youngest mountains in Canada and also the highest. There are more than 20 summits over 4,200 meters (14,000 ft.), the largest accumulation on the continent. Towering above these lofty peaks is Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain at 5,959 metres (19,551 ft.), and one of the world’s largest massifs. And these mountains are still growing: a seismograph in the Visitor Reception Centre at Haines Junction records hundreds of small tremors that occur every year, pushing the St Elias Mountains ever skyward.

The Ice Queen

Between the rock massifs of the St Elias Mountains is one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the world. Huge valley glaciers fill the gulfs between the peaks; the Hubbard Glacier is 112 kilometres (70 mi.) long, the Lowell Glacier is 72 kilometres (45 mi.) long and these glaciers may be 1.6 kilometres (1 mi.) thick in parts. These glaciers make their own weather, scour away tons of rock every day, dam rivers and create lakes.

Galloping glaciers

The Steele Glacier in Kluane National Park surged for several months in 1966-67, moving over 1.5 billion tons of ice at a rate of up to 15 metres (50 ft.) per day. Surging valley glaciers are not uncommon in Kluane, where the Lowell Glacier has a history of galloping, blocking the Alsek River and forming a lake. There are more than 2,000 glaciers in Kluane National Park including valley glaciers, hanging glaciers, cirque glaciers and rock glaciers.

How to enjoy all of the above

Frontier Canada feature an eight-day ‘Yukon Wilderness and Fishing experience’ at Ruby Range Lodge.

The lodge is said to be ideal for people who are interested in fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking or nature in general due to its secluded location amongst high mountains and a river mouth. It is situated on the border of Kluane National Park and Alaska and can be reached only by float plane or boat.  You can enjoy the Yukon summer with its long, warm days by taking advantage of activities such as fishing, hiking, boating, wildlife viewing and photography. The Lodge includes a main building with 4 double rooms, a small bar and a spacious sundeck. Additionally, there are two rustic cabins on the property accommodating 2-3 guests.

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