Along with mining and the public sector, tourism is a major component of Yukon's economy. In an average year, more than 300,000 tourists will visit the Territory from all over the world. This is approximately 10 times our permanent population. While most come from the United States, approximately 10% come from countries other than Canada and the US. It is perhaps self evident that most come to enjoy the wilderness setting, the wildlife, the opportunity to enjoy a sense of peace and solitude not always available in the more urban areas of the world.The tourism industry in Yukon caters to these needs . At the same time, a growing part of the industry, particularly among the First Nations, provides opportunities to learn about and enjoy the many aspects of aboriginal culture.
Because of its wilderness setting and proximity to Whitehorse and its transportation services, the Southern Lakes where Tagish is located,is an ideal place for any tourist to spend a once in a lifetime vacation.
The lakes, rivers and streams of the Tagish area are known for their lake trout, northern pike and grayling.
Fishing licences are required for all species and special conditions exist on some lakes. Given the size of the lakes, boats are
normally required to gain access to prime fishing spots. The Tagish Bridge area however is one spot where fishing is possible
without a boat. Lake trout fishing from the bridge is a popular passtime for many residents and tourists. For more information about fishing regulations, please see the Environment Yukon website.
In Tagish itself, there are several businesses which will take out fishing tours, Tagish Bed and Breakfast and 6 Mile Resort being two such.
To fully explore the Southern Lakes requires a boat, either motorized or self propelled. The lakes are large, very cold and can be very windy with winds coming predominantly from the South. All boating must be done with great care as weather patterns can change quickly. In and around the Tagish area, kayaking and canoeing will give you access to many beautiful areas and canoes can be rented at 6 Mile Resort. If you have your own boat and trailer, there are two boat launch areas near the Tagish Bridge.
The Southern Lakes are home to most of Yukon's large mammals and moose, bear, both black and grizzly, and caribou are often seen
from the roads and while hiking. Late spring and early summer are often the best times as the snow is disappearing and the animals come down to the roadsides to graze on the new grass. Care must obviously be taken as the animals can all be dangerous and photographers should never leave their vehicle to get closer to an animal. In the early summer all species may have young and then are especially agressive if they feel the young are threatened. The Tagish and Atlin Roads are prime wildlife viewing spots at this time of year. For more information on viewing, please go to the Environment Yukon website.
The Yukon does not have the number of species which can be seen in southern Canada but does have some which are specific to the North. The best time is the Spring as the migratory birds move through the Southern Lakes on their way North. Migration starts in April as the lakes open and birds can begin to feed. The Swan migration provides without doubt the best viewing and photo opportunities and the Tagish Bridge is the best spot for both. For more information see 'About Swans' and 'Birds of Tagish' on this website.
Hiking: Day hiking and backpacking are both available in the Southern Lakes and will give you the opportunity to climb above treeline and see some magnificent mountain scenery. Close to Tagish are popular day hikes areas; White Mountain, Caribou Mountain, Montana Mountain and Nares Mountain. Backpacking along the Skagway Road and of course the historic Chilkoot Trail are also very popular. In all of these areas, the terrain is mountainous and the weather can change quickly. You should always be well equipped and dressed and make sure people know where you are going. A popular book is called Hikes and Bikes and it will give you all of the information needed to hike in this area.
Biking: Mountain biking and road biking are both ideal ways to see the Southern Lakes. Bikes can be rented in Whitehorse and Carcross and there are bed and breakfasts and camp grounds if you wish to make multi day trips. Montana Mountain, 35 kms. from Tagish, has world class biking trails and is managed by the Carcross Tagish First Nations on their settlement lands.
Several bike clubs exist in Whitehorse and organize outings. In late July/early August there is a Southern Lakes Loppet which is a one day road race around the 170 km. Southern lakes loop and which goes through five of our communities. This can be an individual or team race.
In general, winter activities tend to be less organized and more individualistic.In the Tagish area, we do not have groomed trails for cross country skiing, but the lakes offer excellent opportunities for anyone who wishes to get out on their own. The same is true for snowshoeing.The best season for these activities is from February on as the days lengthen and the temperature warms. Care must again be taken as it is dangerous to be in the wilderness as night approaches and you have inadequate shelter and protection. Overnight camping is quite straightforward but your equipment must be trustworthy. Another method of travelling in winter is on a snowmobile and again, the Southern Lakes offer unlimited opportunity. Machines can be rented in Whitehorse for use in this area. Our lakes are large and , depending upon the weather , may not freeze adequately until January. Caution is needed and you should always check with local people about the state of the ice when out on the lakes. Finally the traditional form of northern travel, dog mushing is perhaps the best way to see our country.
One mostly winter activity which does not call for moving about is enjoying the spectacular Northern Lights. On the wide expanses of our lakes and mountains, with no extraneous light sources except the stars and the moon, viewing and perhaps taking pictures of the aurora borealis is a once in a lifetime experience. Unfortunately no one can guarantee when they will be visible but websites forecast their likelihood and much of the enjoyment is in the anticipation.