Yukon River - Carmacks to Dawson City

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402 km
7 days
Loop Trip: 
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0 m
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0 m
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Start at town of Carmacks
There is a maintained campground here but we had been warned to keep an eye on our gear here as it has a habit of disappearing.
Moving down the river there is an abandoned coal mine from the 1800s with a fair campsite. About 10 km past this is the only area of concern, the Five Finger Rapids. There is a path to a lookout on river right about 100 m above the rapid. This takes you to a lookout to scout the rapids. Not all the rapid is visible from the lookout but enough can be seen to make a plan. STAY RIGHT through the haystacks to avoid the tricky currents and whirlpools from the other channels . We did not see any possible portage around the rapids.
A few miles below this there is another rapid that looks fairly imposing at first but can be totally avoided by staying to the extreme right.
Just below this there is a spot with a thick layer of white volcanic ash that is reputed to be Sam McGee`s ashes.
The river carries on past Minto an old homestead where there is a few cabins an a dock for some mining operation. There is an airfield here and access to the Klondike Hwy.
Then past Fort Selkirk where there is a museum run by the natives and a chance to buy some crafts.
All through this trip there is old wood yards that used to supply wood to the paddlewheelers . Some have returned to nature but several still have old decaying buildings. Although there is some sand in the river water the water is still usable for cooking and drinking till the White river flows in. From then on it is necessary to get drinking and cooking water from feeder steams.
At Sterwart island there are old docks from an ore transfer site. The river runs on and then comes to Dawson City. There is a government campground on river left just past the fairy landing dock - good place to camp while you see the sights of Dawson.

Special Comments: 

There is no need for topo maps if you use Mike Rourke`s river guides . ( Mike`s are the easiest to follow and have the most info). All the points of interest are noted and explained and the campsites are marked.
There was a great deal of wildlife all along the river . We saw moose, caribou, black bear , grizzly bear, dall sheep, eagles, perigrine falcons, ducks, loons and all kinds of smaller mammels and birds .
The scenery was the highlight of the trip . We traveled through mountains the entire trip . Only negative would be the mosquitoes and the rainy weather.Joe Beynen


Post date: Fri, 02/16/2018 - 08:14


Comment intended for Whitehorse to Carmacks. 

Highlights for Carmacks to Dawson was Five Fingers (be careful - only 1 safe route through far right column), Kirkman Creek (cookies), and Dawson City

Post date: Fri, 02/16/2018 - 08:06


Did this in 2015. Lake is problematic with potential for high winds and dangerous waters. We had to sit out whole day before we could paddle on. Best guide is Len Webster's sold at bcyukonadventures.com

Post date: Wed, 07/04/2012 - 14:43


Have canoing experience and are heading up to the Yukon with some friends from Australia. We dont have time for the entire Yukon River and would like to ask out there which half is the most remote and most scenic. We will be on the water some time in August and are aware of 5 fingers. We have vehicle backup to pick us up at any locations. Also if there any shuttle to cross Lake Laberge?

Post date: Fri, 01/20/2012 - 09:43


We canoed the Yukon River last summer (2011)from carmacks to Dawson City. It was a wonderful paddle. Great scenery and history. The fast current opened up opportunity to sit back at times and let the river do the work. Campsites were many. Many island sites available, especially during times of low water.

Dawson City was a great ending to our 7 day trip. Spent 2 days just taking in the history and entertainment of the town. More than 2 days is a stretch. Klondike Kate's is a good option for food. The Bunkhouse is a fair deal for accommodation. No frills.

On the river, be sure to stop at Fort Selkirk. Many buildings from earlier period. Kirkman Creek available for breads, pastries, and camping.

We used a new guide for the river - Yukon River Guidebook: Carmacks to Dawson City by Len Webster. The guide is easy to follow and laid out in a fashion that provides campsites, cautionary notes, historical and natural info, GPS, on each map.