The experience staged here is fittingly harmonized with this land’s history and the meeting of cultures it has made possible since the Gold Rush days. The ranch offers simple comforts without running water nor electricity. We use propane lighting; we burn wood for heat, much like the first visitors of European stock did in the late 19th century. If the rugged northern landscape of the Yukon River basin maintains much of its wilderness character today, this operation only enhances it for visitors.
The trails we ride our horses on are natural animal trails, so we are not making or cutting trails over the land. We consistently draw on a “leave no trace” approach to the environment. If a fire is built, it is cleaned up. Conservation officers come out regularly to monitor our activities, which are licensed by a territorial wilderness tourism regulatory body which requires us to submit annual reports on everything from the number of guides we use and their qualifications, to the number of guests we take over the land and the specific areas we visit with them throughout the year. Trip duration and type, as well as any secondary activity we might engage in while guests are with us are also reported as part of this process.
The environmental impact of keeping the horse on the land is also monitored by an independent board of resource stakeholders which evaluates grazing lease applications on aspects like carrying capacity. If the board has concerns with our activities, it board raise them with us. Prior to structural improvements to the operation, a written proposal has to be submitted for review on any planned corrals, animal shelters or water supply works. This ensures we comply with regulations like the 100-meter minimum distance we respect when laying salt blocks in the vicinity of fish bearing streams.
Because of the way we run our trips, the Kwanlin Dunn First Nation allows us to travel over their land for part of our journeys. We, in turn, give them access to our land. Travel on horseback is an integral element of the local culture throughout Yukon. It allows travellers to look at the land through a different lens, one that engages participants in a profound manner; one that capitalizes on the ancestral relationship between humans and their domesticated equine partners.
Most of the guides are native and long-time residents of the area, they keep coming back to lead trips year after year because of the income, but also because of the opportunity this responsible tourism offering provides the staff and guests to help preserve a tradition that is very much part of the cultural fabric of the Yukon Territory.