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An Explorer's Guide to Keno City, Yukon

    Keno City is the smallest community in the Yukon, and one of the least visited, but has one of the most colourful histories. It is located at the end of a road called The Silver Trail (Yukon Highway 11), 111 km (69 miles) from where it joins the North Klondike Highway at Stewart Crossing.

    The most commonly used population figure for Keno City is 15, but the Yukon News says more accurately, in a 2014 article about the community, that "Keno's population fluctuates from about seven in the dead of winter to about 20 in the summer, when tourism operators return to their businesses."

    The Keno City area's past is rooted in mining, from when gold was first discovered by the Gustaveson family in 1898 (that rush peaked in 1903-1904), and more famously after several silver-lead-zinc deposits were discovered starting in 1918. By 1923 there were 3 hotels, a liquor store and a post office. Mining still goes on in the area, though erratically depending on world mineral prices.

    Tourism, though small, is the fairly stable industry now. Accommodations and food area available, and the Keno City Mining Museum does an excellent job of bringing the past to life. For the backroads enthusiast, there is a vast network of old roads, as well as the popular road to near the top of Keno Hill (which is 1,848 meters / 6,063 feet high) with its famous signpost, mining ruins, and spectacular views.

The signpost on top of Keno Hill, Yukon. Photo by Wayne Roberts of Yukonbikes.com. Click to enlarge it. Butterflies & Bulldozers on the Silver Trail
A lengthy introduction to the history and attractions of the Mayo-Elsa-Keno area.

Exploring Keno Hill
A 26-page brochure with maps, by the Yukon Government (pdf, 5.4MB).

Keno City Historic Buildings Walking Tour
A brief guide to 20 historic buildings and sites (pdf, 440kb).

Silvermoon Bunkhouse
Unique accommodations in downtown Keno City, with modern, comfortable rooms, ample washroom facilities, and a common kitchen and dining area.

Keno City Hotel
The hotel burned on December 11, 2020. Our comment here had said "Entering this hotel, built in the 1920s, is a step into the history of this tiny hamlet. Enjoy the rooms and/or the Pot Luck Cafe."

Keno City Campground
A beautiful, quiet location in town beside Lightning Creek, with 12 sites, wood, water, and a gazebo with woodstove. RV turnaround. Laundry and showers available.

Keno City Mining Museum
A brief look at the museum, by the Yukon Historical & Museums Association.

A Day Trip to Keno City, Yukon
This photojournal has 39 photos from the Silver Trail and Keno City.

Another Quick Trip to Keno City, Yukon
This photojournal has 33 photos of a drive from Whitehorse and the overnight stay on top of Keno Hill.

Sourdough Cafe
The best Yukon history lessons happen in the bars, and that's where this interview takes place - in the only bar in the smallest community in the Yukon (16:43).

Photos of Keno
Images from the backcountry, by the late Wayne Roberts.

Geordie Dobson, King of 'The Hill'
What is it about Keno City that kept a former globe-trotting seaman there for a half-century? An article from July 2001.

Keno City Interpretive Signs
The text of the government's signs about the community's history, from these signs about the 1898 discovery of gold at nearby Duncan Creek, to its later silver boom.

Yukon artist Kim Barlow's album, with 13 songs including "Butterflies and Drunk Men" and "Slim Pickins", is about Keno City (viewing on Youtube is blocked in Canada).

An Explorer's Guide to Elsa, Yukon
Information about the once-thriving village next to Keno City, that no longer has any permanent residents.

More Yukon Communities

Clicking on the aerial view of Keno City below will open an interactive map at Google Maps, in a new window.
As of December 2018, the area is still in low resolution.
Keno City, Yukon