Boreale Ranch broadens horizons beyond biking

The Boreale Ranch is still a work in progress. They're still hanging art on the walls, Marsha Cameron says. Then she points outside, to the snowy yard ringed with trees.

The Boreale Ranch is still a work in progress.

They’re still hanging art on the walls, Marsha Cameron says. Then she points outside, to the snowy yard ringed with trees. That’s where the sauna and the hot tub will go, she says. The fire pit is already in place. The pale walls of a handful of large yurts are visible in the forest beyond the main yard, and the line of mountains known as the Seven Sisters fill up the horizon.

This past summer was Boreale Mountain Biking’s seventh summer of operations, and its first at the new ranch. For six seasons, the all-inclusive mountain biking retreat was based on Long Lake Road in Whitehorse. Owner-operators Cameron and Sylvain Turcotte lived out of a camper; their guests stayed and ate in luxury yurts set up on the property in the spring and taken down again in the fall, and each day a team of guides led them along the network of mountain biking trails on Grey Mountain and around Carcross. Business boomed: many vacation packages sold out months in advance.

In August 2013, Cameron and Turcotte made a big move. They purchased a property – 16 acres and a house – near Lewes Lake, just off the South Klondike Highway between Carcross and Mount Lorne. They spent the fall, winter and spring renovating the house and constructing a massive addition. When the summer 2014 biking season rolled around, Boreale Ranch was ready: four large guests rooms with space for up to 12 people, a commercial kitchen, comfy communal spaces with big views of the mountains, and a separate living area for Cameron, Turcotte, and their toddler, Malina. The yurts, set up outside, offered additional sleeping areas for guests.

“It was a really good summer for us,” Cameron says. “Being able to take so many more people increased our capacity.” And the expanded indoor space was a relief – Yurtville, as the old location was known, could sometimes feel restrictive in bad weather. “I don’t have to apologize when it rains anymore,” she adds.

Now, with the first summer at the ranch under their belts, Cameron and Turcotte are tackling their next challenge: year-round operations. Beginning this winter, the Boreale Ranch is open as a B&B and licensed event venue, and bookings are already brisk. The company has partnered with local winter tour companies like Alayuk Adventures and Northern Tales: Boreale provides accommodation and meals, and the tour operators provide activities.

The plan, eventually, is to roll out some homegrown winter activity packages, too – though nothing on the scale of Boreale’s jam-packed summer offerings. “We’re going to start offering a few simple winter packages,” says Cameron. “One thing that I’d like to get into is cross-country skiing. I think that’s a large untapped resource.” A couple of their summer biking guides are also trained ski coaches, so that’s a natural fit. The growing winter fat-bike craze is another potential area to exploit.

The move hasn’t substantially changed the classic summer biking tours that the company was built on. They had already been splitting their time roughly 50-50 between Montana Mountain and the Whitehorse trails, Cameron says, and that’s still the same. The only difference now is that their groups often spend more time in Carcross after their rides, sipping coffee or eating in the expanding Carcross Commons. It’s true that at Yurtville guests could ride right onto the Grey Mountain trails from their yurts, no commute necessary. But the ranch has other advantages.

“The other place wasn’t perfect,” says Cameron. “There’s a lot of partying that happens on that road.” Besides, Yurtville was set up on government land each year: Cameron and Turcotte were unable to buy the property, or to expand beyond their seasonal yurts. “This way we can open year round, we can take more people, and we can run more trips.”

Every detail of the ranch is carefully chosen. The decor is modern and understated. Cameron, a social media whiz, is always thinking about the Instagram effect: People will share photos of everything, she says – down to the in-room coffee makers. So she makes sure that every element is photogenic.

Just as they did at Yurtville, Cameron and Turcotte emphasize excellent food, locally sourced wherever possible: beer from Yukon Brewing, coffee from Midnight Sun. The goal is to blend a tasteful, modern experience inside with the best of the Yukon wilderness outside. “Our clients are generally 40 to 60 years old, urbanites, wealthy,” Cameron says. “We want to provide a place where they can feel like they’re on vacation, in a style that they like. It’s a stylish place in the wilderness.”

Eva Holland is a freelance writer in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen


Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Most Read