Carcross, 74 kilometres (46 mi.) from Whitehorse on the S. Klondike Highway, originally was called Caribou Crossing. The town's current name is a combination of the first syllable of each word. From this settlement George Carmack's party set out on the prospecting trip that began the gold rush of 1898. On July 29, 1900, the railroad's final spike was driven, marking the completion of the White Pass & Yukon Route, which linked Alaska and the Yukon Territory by rail.
Today the White Pass & Yukon Route transports passengers between Carcross and Bennett, British Columbia; phone (907) 983-2217 or (800) 343-7373 for schedule and reservations.
Near the town's train depot is the “Duchess,” a tiny locomotive that ran the 6.4-kilometre (4-mi.) line from Taku Arm on Tagish Lake to Atlin Lake in the early 1900s. It supposedly was the shortest and most expensive rail trip in the world—one-way fare was $2—and passengers had to sit on their baggage in the cramped compartment.
Recalling the feverish gold rush days is the Caribou Hotel. Regarded as the Yukon's oldest operating hotel, the historic building, which opened in 1898 to accommodate gold seekers heading north, is a Yukon Historic Site. Note: Hotel renovations are expected to continue into 2018; phone (867) 393-4551.
The Carcross Visitor Information Centre is at the Carcross Pavilion, adjacent to the historic White Pass & Yukon Route train depot. The center provides extensive information about Carcross, one of the Yukon's most picturesque areas; phone (867) 821-4431.
Just north of town along the Klondike Highway lies the Carcross Desert, considered the smallest desert in the world. The 260-hectare (650-acre) area was created by retreating glaciers that left a sandy lake bottom; today winds from Lake Bennett constantly shift the sand, limiting vegetation to such plants as kinnikinnick and lodgepole pine.