Water Tripping in Yukon
Mother Nature spent a little extra time in Yukon crafting its over 70 different waterways. Rivers and lakes make up a large part of the navigable space in this large, magnificent territory. Routes initially used by First Nations, early explorers, and Gold Rush prospectors are open for exploration on your time and at your pace. There’s literally a paddle for any level of ability or any duration of time. To make things more convenient, numerous canoe, rafting or kayaking tour operators can package trips as a guided expedition or solely as an independent excursion.
A classic paddle is the Yukon River or the “river of gold”. As the original route to the goldfields, this trip offers equal portions of adventure, pristine wilderness, and historical learning. Sample it for a couple of days or take up to two weeks to paddle from Whitehorse to Dawson City. This river’s credentials as a Canadian Heritage River, the fourth largest river in North America, with one of the longest salmon runs in the world, bring to light the significance of this national treasure. River travelers can see remnants of abandoned cabins and sternwheelers and experience the Yukon’s trading history at the restored Fort Selkirk historic site. While considered a leisurely class II paddle, the Five Finger Rapids north of Carmacks, offer a little rush and adrenaline to fill out the day.
For a little more wet and wild, rafters and kayakers should bring their “A” game to the class III and IV, Tatshenshini River. Also a Canadian Heritage River and located in the world’s largest protected area, this river flows through parks in Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska. The landscape features striking mountains up to 5,000 meters high, careening canyons, lush alpine valleys and expansive, hike-able glaciers. The water, wildlife and terrain will demand your attention as they joust for position around every meandering bend. Wildlife often takes priority with a staggering concentration of grizzly bears, salmon, moose, wolves, bald eagles to be found along the way.
Other paddles worthy of mention include the mellow and lazy floats along the Teslin and Big Salmon rivers. Wildlife, fishing, friendly rapids and an active First Nation river culture are guaranteed along these dynamic river routes. For a more remote multi-day experience, independent or guided, consider a trip on the wilder Peel, Snake, Wind, Bonnetplume and Wheaton rivers. While you can pop out and re-supply in communities along many water routes in Yukon, there are still some paddles where you can be delightfully alone for weeks on end.
Either route you choose, Yukon has gear and equipment rentals, licensed wilderness guides, detailed maps and itineraries and numerous tour operators to set you on your way. With Yukon only a two and a half hour flight from Vancouver, why not spend your next summer adventure immersed in water, history and nature.