Destinations:: Atlin, British Columbia

Known as “little Switzerland,” Atlin, B.C., is one of the most scenic places in Canada—a must-see side trip for overlanders heading to Alaska or the Yukon. The postcard-perfect town is encircled by Atlin Lake—the largest natural lake in B.C.—and majestic forested peaks.

Lake Atlin British Columbia

Lake Atlin British Columbia

The name Atlin—Áa Tlein—comes from the Tlingit language and means “big body of water.”

With a population of just under 500, this small community survives as a tourist destination for heli-skiing, hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and mountain biking on active gold mining roads and wilderness trails.

Visitors will find Atlin by driving south of Whitehorse, Yukon, on Atlin Highway 7 for just over 100 miles, or 2-3 hours. You can also hire a floatplane charter. In these small communities, it’s imperative to respect its pristine essence. Park your vehicle and walk around town—it’s more interactive and doesn’t take long. Along with friendly residents, you’ll find a fantastic café, a limited-but-good-for-essentials grocery store, a laundromat, liquor store, and an auto repair shop. You will not find a bank but there are ATMs.

homestead in Atlin British Columbia

Atlin British Columbia real estate

Atlin British Columbia cabin

Many historic buildings line the streets, like the Atlin Museum—a refurbished schoolhouse built in 1902, and Globe Theatre, 1917.

old atlin hospital

atlin hospital

If you’re into cemeteries, you’ll find that too, with buried gold prospectors, like Kenneth McLaren and Fritz Miller, who made a gold strike in 1898. If you head to Atlin, B.C., try to imagine the town once had 10,000 people during the gold rush era.

Walking along glacial-fed Atlin Lake waterfront is always beautiful in any weather and gives you the chance to see the MV Tarahne, a gas-powered propeller vessel that acted as a luxury tour boat in the early 1920s. The Tarahne hosts tea and finger food the first Saturday in July, where hosts serve in periodic costumes.

MV Tarahne Atlin B.C.

MV Tarahne

Although mining and tourism support Atlin’s economy, you’ll also find influential writers, artists, and other creatives drawn to the peace and quiet of this pretty town.

Things to note when traveling to Atlin, B.C.

  • There is no bank, but Atlin has ATMs
  • There is Wi-Fi, but no cell service
  • Get the majority of your groceries in Whitehorse
  • Atlin has a gas station with propane and diesel
  • Camping in town is available at Norseman RV Park
  • You can wild camp up backroads, but there is also local accommodation, like cabins, houseboats, and B&Bs
  • The Atlin Arts and Music Festival is held in July

ducks on atlin lake

For more information on Atlin, B.C., your best bet is the Whitehorse Visitor Information Center.

The Milepost also has great information.

Happy destination planning!


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Destinations:: Atlin, British Columbia