Winter Solstice in Whitehorse, Yukon

I’m sure that you’ve all heard the stories about how dark and dreary winters are in the Far North – some of you may even believe those stories 🙂 Today I’d just like to give you a brief look at what December 21st was like in Whitehorse. You can see what it looks like year-round in my large Whitehorse photo album.

I had a few errands to run in town, but I also had some shooting to do, with this blog post in mind. The first photo was shot out the front window as I was getting ready, at 09:21, with the temperature at -21°C (-6°F). That’s slightly below the “normal” temperature for the day, but still quite reasonable compared to the record lows for this time of year, into the -40s (Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same at -40).

My front yard in Whitehorse on the Winter Solstice
At 09:37 I was on the Alaska Highway about half-way to downtown Whitehorse. My plan was to do some photography up to sunrise at 10:08, then do my errands.

Winter dawn on the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse
The wonderful pre-sunrise colours over the Yukon River at the southern edge of downtown made this my first stop at 09:48.

Winter sunrise over the frozen Yukon River
From the same spot as above, the SS Klondike peeking through the “steam” off the river was worth a few shots.

SS Klondike in an icy steam
At 09:55, I was up on the Long Lake Road and took a lot of photos of various parts of the city. The temperature had now dropped a couple of degrees, to -23C (-9F). I had planned on shooting the sunrise from here, but discovered that it would rise out of sight to the left. The distant mountain is Golden Horn, which Cathy and I live at the base of – it looks like a volcano, but isn’t.

Whitehorse in an icy winter dawn

Whitehorse in an icy winter dawn
I posted the next photo on my Facebook page, and it’s turned out to be the most popular photo I’ve ever posted there. In its first 24 hours on Facebook, it’s nearing 550 “shares” – to say that it feels really good to get that sort of response is an understatement 🙂 Click on the image below to open the large Facebook version in a new window.

Whitehorse and the Yukon River on Winter Solstice at -23 degrees

A final shot from that viewpoint, looking down the Yukon River, with Shipyards Park the nearest point on the far side of the river.

The Yukon River and Shipyards Park on a cold Winter Solstice morning
At sunrise, 10:08, I was back at the SS Klondike. This doesn’t look much like sunrise, but because of the extremely shallow angle that the sun rises at, it takes a long time to be visible.

Sunrise over the Yukon River in Whitehorse on the Winter Solstice.
My plan had been to be back at my sunrise-photo spot to get a photo at noon, then another at sunrise, but while I was doing my errands, it clouded over. As I was nearing home at 11:11, though, you can get an idea of how high the sun would be at noon (not very!).

11:11 am on the Alaska Highway on the Winter Solstice

I hope that helps people see that it’s not as dark and dreary as they might think in the winter 🙂


Winter Solstice in Whitehorse, Yukon — 5 Comments

  1. What a wonderful sunrise on winter solstice you had! Dark and dreary are not words that enter my mind for even a second. Such a lovely and beckoning part of the world you live in. Merry Christmas to you and Cathy, and your adorable fur babies!!

  2. Beautiful pre-sunrise photos. I’ll be the first to wish you, “Happy New Year!” It is midnight on Dec. 31st as I write? All the best for 2016!

  3. I almost missed this and it would have been my loss because there are some beautiful pictures there.