Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

Yukon Quest – February 4, 2023

Yukon Quest Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of February and this year it will be marked on February 4. It is time to go on an adventure with Siberian Huskies! Dogs have been working with humans in inland Alaska for over 10,000 years. Folklore in Alaska has mythological heroes who interacted with dogs, and some claim canines to be the ancient ancestor of the first human. During the Alaskan Gold Rush, Leonhard Seppala introduced the Siberian Husky, which was smaller than native Alaskan canines. The current sled dog’s genetic base is made up of indigenous dogs and Seppala’s Huskies. The genetic mix of the normal Yukon Quest Husky has been carefully chosen through many generations of breeders.

History of Yukon Quest

Yukon River serves as the historical highway of the north. The trail would follow the routes taken by prospects to reach the Klondike during the 1898 Gold Rush, and then to the Alaskan interior for subsequent gold rushes in the early 1900s. They despised the Iditarod Sled Dog Race’s numerous checkpoints and envisioned an endurance race in which contestants would rely on themselves and survival would be as important as speed. On the 25th anniversary of the event, Shank stated, “We wanted more of a Bush experience, a race with a little woodsmanship in it.”

The Yukon Quest was conceived in a bar in April 1983 by four Alaskans: LeRoy Shank, Roger Williams, Ron Rosser, and William ‘Willy’ Lipps. To commemorate the Klondike Gold Rush era the four proposed a 1,000-mile sled dog race from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon. A sled dog race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse had been discussed as early as 1976. But it wasn’t until this discussion that the Yukon Quest became more than just a concept. The race was dubbed the “Yukon Quest” by them to honor the Yukon River.

The first Yukon Quest put both race logistics and all participants to the test. In 1984, 26 teams left Fairbanks. Twenty teams arrived in Whitehorse over the next 16 days. Six teams were forced to abandon the race along the way. Sonny Lindner won the Yukon Quest for the first time, finishing in just over 12 days.

Yukon Quest timeline

1986
The First Season of Yukon Quest Starts

LeRoy Shank, Roger Williams, Ron Rosser, and William ‘Willy’ Lipps take their first journey.

2011
Fastest Racer of Yukon Quest

Allen Moore, completes the race in just eight days, setting a record that is difficult to break for years to come.

2000
The First Women to Win the Quest

Aily Zirkle of SP Kennels, an American, becomes the only woman to win the Yukon Quest.

2020
The Lowest Number of Participants

Due to a lack of sponsorships, only 15 participants are present.

Yukon Quest FAQs

How do other Canadian provinces observe Yukon Heritage Day?

Yukon Heritage Day is observed on the final Friday of February. Heritage Day, on the other hand, is observed on the third Monday of February throughout the rest of Canada’s provinces and territories.

Is Yukon Quest harder than Iditarod?

The Iditarod has tougher competition, but the Quest path is far more difficult than the Iditarod, and it’s not simply because of the mountains. It is, in fact, the Yukon River. The Iditarod only travels roughly 130 miles along the Yukon, whereas the Quest travels closer to 400 miles.

What is the prize for winning the Yukon Quest?

Mushers in the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race will compete for a minimum guaranteed payout of $100,000. A portion of the prize money will be distributed to the top 15 finishers.

Yukon Quest Activities

  1. Play the other games in the Yukon Sourdough Gathering

    You can enjoy other winter sports like Dog Team Derby, Ski & Snowshoe Races, Ice Skating, Ice Hockey, Snowshoe Ski Ball, Bowling, and Basketball. There are many options to pick from.

  2. Enjoy the carnival

    The Yukon Sourdough carnival also includes fireworks, BBQ, ice sculptures, dancing performances, air shows, and a fiddle tournament. It is a feast for the senses so indulge in the merrymaking.

  3. Learn about the history and legacy of Yukon

    Do not only participate in numerous activities with your family but also connect with Yukon's legacy today. The festival's main goal is to bring all Yukoners together to celebrate the end of another winter.

5 Intriguing Facts About Yukon Quest Day

  1. The coldest competitive sport ever

    Every February, during the coldest and most unpredictable months of the year, this incredible winter event takes place.

  2. Bad weather conditions don’t hamper the race

    The Yukon Quest race begins on time, regardless of the weather, and lasts between 10 and 16 days until the last team crosses the finish line.

  3. They’ve been no missed events

    Since 1984, the Yukon Quest has taken place every year.

  4. The trail follows the historic Gold Rush

    This has been followed from the turn of the 20th Century.

  5. Each team has 14 dogs

    One human and 14 canine athletes traverse some of North America's last pristine wilderness.

Why We Love Yukon Quest

  1. We love the stamina and drive of sled dogs

    Sled dogs are serious athletes and the heart and soul of this sport. They are top marathon pros and are regarded as such throughout training and competition.

  2. It emphasizes strategy

    The race relies heavily on strategy and routine. The driver of the dog sled (musher) juggles between being a coach, cook, motivational speaker, cheerleader, and companion.

  3. It’s the only international sled dog race

    What began as a chat between mushers in a Fairbanks bar has evolved into something else. It is now one of the most widely followed sled dog races in the world, as well as the only one that covers two nations.

Yukon Quest dates

YearDateDay
2022February 5Saturday
2023February 4Saturday
2024February 3Saturday
2025February 1Saturday
2026February 7Saturday

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.