Montana Mountain, Carcross, Yukon

Hiking in Montana Mountain
Biking on the mountains in Montana Mountain
Mountain biking at Montana Mountain

Montana Mountain is a large massif of volcanic origin found just south of the village of Carcross, Yukon. The massif is a grouping of mountains that encompass an area of approximately 180 square kilometers. Montana Mountain lies in the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (CTFN), which assumed ownership of much of mountain through its 2006 land claim settlement. Since that time, CTFN has overseen the creation of 40 kilometers of multi-use trails through the Carcross Singletrack to Success Project.  With this development the CFTN has been able to successfully implement their four step tourism code of conduct: Respect the culture, protect the environment, enhance community benefits and support business development.

The CTFN’s Carcross Singletrack to Success Project was supported by partnerships made with the Government of Yukon, the Canadian Economic Development Agency and The Tagish Gold Corporation to establish Montana Mountain trails. The CTFN partnered with industry experts to create the trails. Narco Bikes partnered with the CFTN and worked closely with community leaders to create a tourist destination for bicyclists. They also donated ten mountain bikes to CFTN youth. By sharing each other’s knowledge and resources the CTFN were able to create a successful tourism destination on their lands while maintaining control of the operation.

This development also demonstrates the importance of strong leadership for sustainable Indigenous tourism. The CTFN community came together to create Montana Mountain trails for two purposes: to attract new visitors and to provide a way to involve Tagish First Nation Youth. Youth were involved in the construction and the maintenance of the trails. Through their involvement leaders are able to teach their youth new skills and the history of their mountain ultimately connecting to their culture, heritage and lands. While carving trails, leaders taught youth how to plan and build trails, identify plans, protect heritage sites, the traditional names of places and how to appreciate nature. Montana Mountain is integral to the culture and history of the Carcross area as the Mountain is featured in ancient legends of the Carcross/Tagish people.

Another sustainable aspect of this development it that they successfully incorporate their culture as a part of the tourism destination by having an educational center and traditional art in the downtown core. Guests visiting for the trails can also experience Carcross/Tagish culture first-hand at the carving shed located in downtown Carcross. Visitors can orient themselves to the history of the Carcross area through the numerous displays and interpretive sites created to showcase it. With the great success of Montana Mountain, Carcross has also been able to develop a small retail market for tourists and locals to purchase bike gear or fix bikes. This has allowed local CTFN to open stores and also benefit from the tourism indirectly.

These award winning trails attract over 2,500 tourists globally.  Montana Mountain Trails was selected by Outside Magazine as the 2013 Global Mountain Bike Destination of the Year and awarded Tourism Yukon Innovator of the Year award. It also was one of five tourism industry association of Canada national tourism attraction finalists.

Sources:

  1. National Aboriginal Tourism Research Project: Economic Impact of Aboriginal Tourism in Canada (April 2015). Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada.
  2. Montana Mountain, Carcross, Yukon (http://www.montanamountain.ca/)