Capturing the Quest

Capturing the Quest

Snapshots from the 2011 Yukon Quest Trail 

This story originally ran in the Winter 2012 (V6I4) edition of Yukon, North of Ordinary.

Each year, the Yukon Quest switches its starting point. The race begins in Whitehorse during odd years and in Fairbanks, Alaska, for even years. There are ten checkpoints along the 1,600-kilometre trail. In 2011, Whitehorse-based photographer Justin Kennedy went along for the ride, capturing the journey by land and from above. Here he shares some moments from the race.

 Veteran musher Mike Ellis, from Two Rivers, Alaska, passes the historic Dredge No. 4 outside Dawson City. This stretch of trail is nothing compared to the 1,220-metre climb of King Solomon's Dome that Ellis and his team had just conquered.



Around midnight, at the Braeburn Lodge checkpoint, a musher is greeted by aurora borealis in the brisk minus-40-degree-Celsius air. The mandatory stops along the trail ensure mushers have not lost any safety gear since the previous checkpoint. Loss of safety gear results in a penalty.


Cody Strathe checks the sled he built for Alaskan musher Brent Sass during the layover in Dawson City.


Alaskan musher Hugh Neff and his team receive a roar from the crowd as they leave Shipyards Park, in Whitehorse, at the start of the 2011 Yukon Quest.


A competitor traverses along the Yukon River, past the clay cliffs outside of Whitehorse, shortly after departing from the start line.


Online Go to for musher profiles, results, and more.Join over 13,000 other fans at for the latest updates during the race. Follow the mushers to the finish using the GPS tracker at

On the Ground  Start your Quest experience off with QuestFest at the Old Fire Hall, in Whitehorse, from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1, sponsored by Air North, Yukon’s Airline. The event features film screenings, merchandise, special presentations, and more.

Where to Watch - Yukon
• Whitehorse: On a starting year, Shipyards Park is the place to be to watch the teams take off from the start line.
• Braeburn Lodge: Come to see the teams; stay for the massive cinnamon buns.
• Carmacks: Camp out by the community centre to watch some of the mushers pass through this checkpoint.
• Dawson City: Head to Front Street to witness competitors race in for their mandatory layover—the first team in wins real Klondike placer gold!

Where to Watch - Alaska
• Central: Steese Roadhouse is the place to be for some food, a beverage, and to rub elbows with the mushers.
• Fairbanks: Right down on the river is where the finish line will be for 2013, and there are plenty of vantage points to catch the teams coming in.

Cap off the excitement with tickets to the annual Yukon Quest Finish and Awards Banquet. Details at

On the Team Get right in on the action and volunteer on the trail. Thousands of volunteers make the race happen each and every year. Sign up at Y

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