If there’s one animal that is inextricably tied to the social, cultural and economic fabric of northern communities, it’s the caribou. Yukon's Porcupine caribou herd ranges across much of the territory, migrating each year from wintering grounds in central Yukon to calving grounds along the Beaufort Sea coast. It’s one of the longest land migrations in the world, offering visitors several wildlife viewing opportunities along the way.
This herd of 120,000 barren-ground caribou shapes the northern landscape, riddling the terrain with trails and serving as prey for wolves, bears, golden eagles and other carnivores. The Gwich'in community of Old Crow is located in the path of the herd, and caribou sustains their culture and feeds their people.
One of the best places to view caribou in the Yukon is the Dempster Highway. The Porcupine herd usually crosses the Dempster in spring and fall, and during the winter they feed along the roadside. Lucky river travellers and hikers in Ivvavik National Park sometimes see groups of Porcupine caribou crossing the Firth River.
Yukon is also home to more than a dozen small, isolated groups of woodland caribou. These animals are larger than their barren-ground cousins, but they are much smaller in number, with fewer than 25,000 across the entire Yukon. Travellers sometimes spots small groups of woodland caribou crossing rivers or along the Robert Campbell Highway, Dempster Highway, Tagish Road and Alaska Highway.