A seven-hour drive north of Whitehorse, or one hour and 30 minutes north from Dawson City, the Tombstone Interpretive Centre sits as the gateway to one of the Yukon’s most iconic territorial parks. The views along the hiking trails serve as the backdrop for countless social media posts from visitors and Yukoners alike. But the natural beauty isn’t the only draw, as the centre hosts a summer series of events designed to add additional experiences for visitors. One of these is the Parks Day Hike and Potluck schedule for July 20.
The annual summer series started in 1999. It was the product of the enthusiasm of interpreters at the Dempster Interpretive Center. The first event, called Weekend on the Wing, was a celebration of the avian residents in the region.
“The immediate success of Weekend on the Wing inspired the interpreters to revisit this event annually and to host other natural history weekends based on this model,” said Tombstone Interpretive staff. “In 2004, the first geology weekends (Weekend on the Rocks) drew people from all over the Yukon. In 2007, Botany Weekend premiered. Since then, Insect Weekend, Lichen and Fungi Weekend, and Mammals Weekend have also been added to the list of events.”
These natural history events occur over four or five weekends throughout the summer, each with a distinct focus. Weekends that focus on avian species, plant life and geology have become recurring annual events. Other variations occur depending on the way the summer plays out. The events series was proposed by the Friends of Dempster Country Society to build an understanding and appreciation of the unique northern wilderness along the Dempster Highway.
“These events will feature presentations, workshops, discussions, games and hikes with scientists, local experts, researchers and artists,” said staff. “The Dempster Highway provides an exceptional opportunity to learn from, and about, northern boreal, subarctic tundra, alpine and Beringian environments.”
The events are well-attended for a location as isolated as Tombstone. According to staff, between 10 and 30 people attend hikes. Between 30 and 70 attend talks. Anywhere from five to fifteen attend the artist workshops. Each event includes two to three hikes, a presentation and one artist workshop.
While the Parks Day Hike and Potluck happens on July 20, and this year’s Weekend on the Wing and Botany Days have already passed, it doesn’t mean visitors have missed all the events on the Tombstone calendar. Lichen and Fungi Weekend takes place Aug. 2 to 4, Weekend on the Rocks takes place Aug. 23 to 25, and a Fall Colours Coffee House will be hosted Sept. 7.
Visitors can experience locals and scientists sharing facts and stories, learn more about training opportunities for tour guides and park rangers, and find out about some of the progress being made around northern research and traditional knowledge in Dempster Country. For more information, contact the centre at TombstoneCentre@gmail.com.