Yukon River – Carmacks

]Wilderness Adventures in British Columbia & Yukon since 1988

NOTE: We do not offer the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Carmacks as this stretch of river includes Lake Laberge {50 km/31 mi long). Lake Laberge is subject to frequent weather systems where winds can cause very dangerous wave conditions. It is not out of the ordinary to be beached onshore for some days, thus playing havoc with people’s travel schedules.


In 1896 the discovery of gold near Dawson City altered the history of the Teslin/Yukon River forever. It became one of the main routes to the adventure and wealth in the Klondike gold fields.yukon river

Getting to Whitehorse, Yukon
Air Canada [www.aircanada.ca], WestJet [www.westjet.com], and Air North [www.flyairnorth.com] have scheduled flights to Whitehorse.  Please check with them or your travel agent for details.

We will paddle through a landscape forged by volcanic and glacial activity. Old mountains have been worn down into rolling hills and rocky promontories.  Spruce-covered forests, high sandy cliffs and basalt walls, gravel bars, small islands, and various tributaries dominate the paddle. Along the way, reminders of the Teslin/Yukon’s glorious human and geological history dot the landscape.

Weather conditions in northern environments range widely between extremes. The only fact you can bet on with the weather is that it can change instantly. This means that although we may enjoy fine weather, we must also be prepared for changes. On any given day you may experience sunny, hot, dry weather that is interrupted by periods of rain or, on rare occasions – even snow. In general, the weather is moderate with average temperatures of 16oC (62F) in July, and 14oC (56F) in August. When packing, please be prepared for heat waves and cold spells.

Travel Distance
With a favourable current of between 6-15 kph, we will cover, on average, 50 km per day. There are no portages. On most days we begin paddling at 9am, take breaks, have lazy lunches (weather permitting), and look to get into camp around 4-5 in the afternoon. To protect the environment, we practice No Trace Camping.

Level of Difficulty
The rivers have little serious water. most of which can be avoided. Beginners will soon feel comfortable on the water with expert instruction from our guides and experienced paddlers will find the trip to be satisfying on many levels. The trip is open to people of all abilities; however, it requires physical endurance to paddle.  Participants should prepare by executing an exercise program coupled with some walking or running or cycling. 

If at all possible, it is worthwhile to take a moving water canoe course from a local canoe club. At least, visit Youtube and watch paddling skills episodes to gain a fundamental understanding of the technique and principles of paddling. Regardless, our guides are experts at teaching the skills you will require. 

Group Size
The maximum group size is 12, two of which are guides. Guides are licensed by the Yukon Government and carry Wilderness First Aid credentials. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities. People come by themselves or with family/friends. The youngest can be 13 (between 13-18 must be accompanied by an adult family member) and the oldest in their 70s.

This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a top-of-the-line tent. Typically, tenting is double occupancy and partners are arranged by gender. You are welcome to bring your own tent but you should contact our office to ascertain the suitability of your tent for this environment.  Bathroom facilities will range from outhouses to wilderness sanitation practices.

Canoeing affords us the opportunity to be far more creative with our menu. The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and primarily vegetarian (because this keeps better than meat). You can expect meals to be varied and delicious: burritos, rice, pasta, and vegetable stir-fry for dinner; bagels and sandwiches for lunch; pancakes, french toast, oatmeal, fruit, and granola for breakfast. Beverages include herbal and regular tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and cider. We can handle most dietary restrictions or preferences.


Equipment and Clothing
We will supply you with a list of outdoor clothing and articles you will need. We supply large and small dry bags to store personal gear during the trip. We also take care of all the group equipment including tents, kitchen, and weather cover.  All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag/pad. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. We do rent packs, and sleeping bags/pads for a nominal charge (cleaning).

We use 17’ Clipper expedition canoes for our expeditions. They are light and easy to handle. Molded and low-positioned seats are ideal for comfort and paddling.

The river is abundant with Arctic Grayling. There is salmon and other species. A fishing license is required.

Mosquito populations vary according to temperature, rainfall, and wind. Be prepared with mosquito repellent and a head net if mosquitoes annoy you.

  • Food: All meals while on the river, including snacks and beverages.yr-map2
  • Arrival in Departure City: You should be here at least one day before Day 1.
  • Distance Paddled: 375 km – 235 mi

It is not practical to give a day-by-day itinerary for the river as each group produces its own pace. We have highlighted significant points along our paddle.

Days 1-6 / Johnsons Crossing — Hootalinqua
Put-in at Johnsons Crossing. The river, in its initial stage, is wide and the current slow. At 100 Mile Creek [km 161] the river narrows and the current increases.

100 Mile Creek: So named for its distance from Hootalinqua. It is believed that it was a supply base for the isolated community of Livingstone, the site of the turn of century Livingstone Goldfields. Tributary rivers result in more gravel bars and islands appearing. The river valley widens and large clay banks with distinctive eroded features called hoodoos become more frequent.

Mason’s Landing: Head of navigation for sternwheelers from Whitehorse that were carrying supplies for the community of Livingstone Creek.

Hootalinqua: Teslin meets the Yukon River. Due to its important position at the junction of the main stampede route to the Klondike, the NWMP built a post here in 1898. Although the permanent population was never more than about a dozen, a telegraph station was built in 1900, and Taylor & Drury had a store in 1901-1902.

yr10Days 7 – 9 / Hootalinqua → Little Salmon
As the river widens out at Hootalinqua, it takes on a completely different character – calmer. At Shipyard Island we will stop to see the remains of the 130-foot Evelyn. She supplied the trading posts along the tributaries of the lower Yukon River until 1913.

At the confluence of the Yukon and Big Salmon rivers is Big Salmon Village. It is the site of an ancient fishing village. During the gold rush NWMP post, telegraph station, riverboat stop, and trading post were located here.

Just downriver from Big Salmon are two small gold dredges that were used in the 1940s.

Our paddle will continue to the confluence of Little Salmon and Yukon rivers. Little Salmon village is believed to be the oldest permanent Indian settlement on the upper Yukon. There is a unique cemetery here which we will stop to visit. It is also our take-out where we will be transported back to Whitehorse and should arrive in the late afternoon or early evening.

What is included in the Cost

  • Canoe, paddles, PFDs [life jacket]
  • Special large & small dry bags for clothing and equipment
  • Transportation to put-ins and take-outs
  • Camping fees and equipment
  • Two person tents
  • Our guides do meal preparation
  • All food while camping including snacks/beverages
  • Major first aid supplies
  • Satellite phone

What is excluded in the Cost

  • Transportation to Whitehorse
  • Airport or other transfers
  • Any Accommodation in Whitehorse 
  • Admissions to museums or tours
  • Food other than included in the itinerary
  • Gratuities

“First and foremost I have to say a massive Thank You to the team for providing an absolutely fantastic trip down the Teslin/Yukon Rivers, which was safe, fun, entertaining and educational. Mark and Laura made their job look easy, which I think (and they proved over & over again) means that they are extremely good at what they do, always smiling, supportive and patient, regardless of how many times they have explained the same thing, and, what a pair of cooks, the food was great.
Mick Willingale, UK

“The canoeing trip on the Yukon River was definitely a highlight of my vacation in Canada and I feel lucky that I could share the experience with such a wonderful group of people. Thanks again for making the canoeing trip such a success!”
Pascale LeManquet, Belgium

“The two trips I did with Sea to Sky [Chilkoot Trail and Yukon River] were both absolutely excellent in every way, and I am grateful to you and your leaders for all you did to make them such a positive experience.
Jan Micklethwaite, Rossland, BC

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