Tombstone Tips for Fall and Winter

Winter has arrived at Tombstone Territorial Park. What can we expect when visiting the park at this time of the year?

Fall in Tombstone can bring a whole variety of conditions. If we could offer any word of advice on travelling to Tombstone, any time of year, it would be “Be ready for anything.” To have an enjoyable time, it is best to bring clothes for a whole variety of conditions and make a trip plan you can leave with someone you trust.

The Tombstone Interpretive Centre is open from May until the end of September, every year. Until September 25, visitors are welcome at the Tombstone Interpretive Centre, where a roaring fire and a fresh cup of Labrador tea awaits.

Once the centre is closed, the Tombstone Mountain Campground is serviced until October 3. After that, the entrance to the campground will be plowed. This means that visitors are welcome to come up for a ski or a snowshoe and to use the cook shack for a warm-up afterwards. Wood is not provided. At this time of year it is fun to explore the Hart River Winter Road, which continues for 10 kilometres through the park.

No matter what season you visit, Tombstone has something special to offer. That being said, the fall colours and northern lights are what many visitors travel across the world to see at this time of year.

What can we expect at this time of year in terms of flora and fauna? And is foraging allowed?

If the ground isn’t already covered in snow, low-bush cranberries are the most eye-catching plant you will see in the fall. These dark-red berries tend to be sweeter after a couple of frosty nights. As for fauna, many animals are preparing for the winter at this time of year. Moose and caribou are on the move, and bears are tirelessly preparing for a long sleep.

If you see animals, please remember to keep your pets under control and give wildlife lots of space.

Foraging in the park is permitted; however, we ask that visitors who forage in the park take into account leave-no-trace practices. Tombstone Territorial Park ensured protection of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Final Agreement. This land has been cared for by First Nations for thousands of years. To show respect for this special place it is of utmost importance to follow the guideline that says “Take only what you need, use all that you take.” We recommend foraging in a way that does not leave a visible impact; for example, only taking 5 per cent of a plant and never taking the first nor the last. If an area is depleted or the plants don’t look as healthy, do not forage there.

If these principals are not clear in any way, the staff at the Tombstone Centre are more than happy to have in-depth conversations with visitors about the ethics of foraging wild plants.

Another unique part of Tombstone Park is that hunting is permitted in the park. During the fall season, it is important to stay on facility trails. If you see ravens circling, avoid the area as this may be a hunting site. Hunting is an important part of cultural life Up North. Please be respectful of hunters.

Are there specific hikes you would recommend? And how should we prepare for them?

We have several facility trails at Tombstone Territorial Park: the North Klondike Trail, a 1.7-kilometre walking trail that hugs the North Klondike River; the Goldensides Trail (at kilometre 74), a 2.5-kilometre trail on the side of Goldensides Mountain; the Grizzly Lake Trail to the Mount Monolith Viewpoint, a 3–4-kilometre hike to see Grizzly Lake and Mount Monolith; the Hart River Winter Road, a winter access road that cuts through the park for 10 kilometres and then continues for another 40 kilometres or so outside of the park boundaries; and the Beaver Pond Trail, a 1-kilometre trail from the Interpretive Centre that takes you to a lovely viewing platform of a beaver pond.

In the spring and fall, some access to trails may be more limited. At these times of year the accessible trails are the Hart River Winter Road and the Beaverpond Trail.

Our backcountry facilities are closed from September 11 to late June.

Could you tell us about the interpretive centre? And there is so much to read and discover at the centre … Could you share any books about the area and about the fauna and flora?

The Interpretive Centre opened in 2009. Inside you will find displays about natural history, human history and the First Nations cultural story, as well as some displays upstairs about the history of the Tombstone Centre. We also have a full library next to the wood stove, with books on botany, birds, mammals, fungi and lichen, geology, ecology and First Nations history. There is always a park interpreter ready to assist you with any questions you may have.

[We are] open mid-May to the end of September.
More information can be found on the Tombstone Territorial Park Facebook page, and some videos are available in English and French on Youtube (to learn more about the mountains stories): Goldensides Trail story.

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