This isn’t Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone

Andy sporting his Lester River Bushcraft Boreal Wool Shirt

Tombstone Territorial Park is located just a short way up the Dempster Highway.  If you find yourself in Dawson and want a fantastic day-excursion, Tombstone Territorial Park would be a fantastic place to visit.

I would go as far as making Tombstone the destination if I ever find myself in the north-central part of the Yukon.  Once again, latitude and elevation have the interesting interplay that produces a convergence of the boreal, alpine and arctic biomes – all within the 850 square miles of the park.

We saw red fox, grizzly bears, parliaments of owls and multiple moose.  But, if there is one creature that could sum up the fauna-equation, it would have to be ptarmigan.

Ptarmigan seemed to be nearly everywhere.  We stopped at one point, and the intention was not to photograph or watch ptarmigan, but it turned into that.  We watched and listened to males attempting to court females.  Males make an absolutely bizarre sound; it is akin to wobbling a steel handsaw.  The males were also incredibly easy to spot.  Their white bodies, with brown necks/heads topped with a bright red cap.  The females, on the other hand, were quite difficult to spot.  You had to listen for a return call to a male, and then look for movement in that general direction.

Can you spot the female ptarmigan in the photo to the left?

Along with the quantities of wildlife, the other utterly amazing aspect of the park was how it was somewhat barren.  There were dwarf willow, and dwarf spruce, and clumps of taller-than-ground-level vegetation, but the entire park had the feeling that, if it was winter, it would have been a vast, white blanket of snow with the Dempster cutting through it like an offwhite ribbon.