DescriptionKluane (kloo-AH-nee) National Park and Reserve is bounded by the Haines (Hwy. 3) and Alaska (Hwy. 1) highways along its northeastern border. The park covers 21,980 square kilometres (8,487 sq. mi.) of wilderness.
The land has drawn a number of people, including the indigenous Southern Tutchone, who have lived in the area for generations. Near the park's southeastern boundary was the Dalton Trail, a route used during the Klondike Rush of 1898. In 1904 a North West Mounted Police post was established on the south shore of Kluane Lake, and in 1942 the lake became a meeting place for crews building the Alaska Highway.
During the building of the highway the wilderness area was preserved as the Kluane Game Sanctuary. In 1979 Kluane was declared a World Heritage Site for its impressive topographical features and its massive nonpolar ice fields. Today the Kluane First Nation and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations peoples cooperatively manage the park with Parks Canada.
The park is dominated by the Saint Elias Mountains, which run through the park in a southeasterly direction. Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak at 5,959 m (19,545 ft.), and Mount St. Elias at 5,489 metres (18,008 ft.) dominate the range. The Saint Elias Mountains hold extensive ice fields that date from the last ice age and constitute the largest nonpolar glacier systems in the world.
An extensive network of glaciers, together with the ice fields, covers more than half of the park's area throughout the year. Notable are the Steele Glacier, which moves sporadically at a relatively rapid rate, and the Kaskawulsh and Lowell glaciers, which are flanked by moraines—accumulations of earth and stones carried and deposited by the glaciers. The movement and debris of the glaciers contribute to such park features as sand dunes and dust storms.
The park has a variety of flora. Such coniferous species as white spruce characterize the boreal forest of the river valleys. Lichens, dwarf birch trees and low shrubs distinguish the tundra uplands in the northern section, and colorful Arctic flowers cling to the crevices and ledges of the mountains. In the southeastern section, where the Pacific Ocean's moderating influence is felt in the climate, the vegetation is more luxuriant.
Arctic grayling, lake trout, northern pike and kokanee salmon are found in lakes and streams. Other park species include golden eagles, ptarmigans, Dall sheep, mountain goats, caribou, moose and wolves. Kluane has one of the largest populations of grizzly bears and subspecies of moose in the world.
General InformationThe park is open all year, but access may be limited in the winter, depending on weather conditions. The Kluane National Park and Reserve Visitor Centre, at Km-post 1635 in Haines Junction, is open daily 9-7, early June to early September; 9-5, mid-May to early June and early September to late September. The Tachäl Dhäl (Sheep Mountain) Visitor Centre at Km-post 1707 is open daily 9-4, mid-May to early September.
The park primarily is a wilderness area, so there are no roads except on the eastern and northern perimeters, traversed by Hwy. 3 and Hwy. 1, respectively. Hiking is the most popular activity in the park, with approximately 250 kilometres (155 mi.) of hiking trails. Hiking is possible along a few old mining roads, creekside paths and marked trails. Some trails are self-guiding. All overnight hikers must register at one of the information centers before and after hikes.
Mountain climbing should be done only by well-trained climbers, who must obtain a climbing permit and register before and after climbs.
Other recreational pursuits include fishing, backpacking, boating, cross-country skiing and ice fishing. All anglers within the park must obtain a national park fishing license, available at the park visitor centers and from area stores and lodges. Camping, fishing and picnic facilities are available at Kathleen Lake, 27 kilometres (17 mi.) south of Haines Junction.
During the summer the park sponsors interpretive activities including campfire talks and guided walks. A relief map, interactive computer touch screens and a video are available. Information about recreational opportunities, sightseeing by small aircraft and other guided tours is available.
ADMISSIONADMISSION to the park is free.
PETSPETS are permitted in the park if kept on a leash.
ADDRESSADDRESS inquiries about the park to Kluane National Park and Reserve, P.O. Box 5495, Haines Junction, YT, Canada Y0B 1L0; phone (867) 634-7207.