Three Ways to Explore Canada’s Yukon River

The Yukon River in Canada’s north-western Yukon Territory draws paddlers from all over the world, many to take part in the Yukon River Quest.

It’s easy to see why the Yukon is home to this premier international paddling race, with participants treated to magnificent scenery and pristine wilderness along the historic Yukon River, one of North America’s longest, and the primary transportation route during the development of the Yukon.

While the gruelling 715 kilometres (by river) “Race to the Midnight Sun” course from Whitehorse to Dawson City tests the endurance and skill of paddlers like no other, you don’t need to be a professional paddler to immerse yourself in the Yukon’s unbeatable waterways, with opportunities for beginners and pros alike on easy-going rivers, thrilling white waters and peaceful lakes.

Here are three outstanding paddling adventures in the Yukon.

The Yukon River in Canada's north-western Yukon Territory draws paddlers from all over the world, many to take part in the Yukon River Quest.
People rafting on the Tutshi River

Frolic on the Yukon River

The Yukon is home to 70 wilderness rivers, with the classic Yukon River being one of the most popular, easily accessed as it runs right through the capital city of Whitehorse. This historic waterway, named “great river” in Gwich’in, is perfect for all levels of ability, including beginners and even children, as the river current allows kayaks and canoes to naturally drift downstream. Join a guided half-day or multi-day sojourns on the water, follow the gold seekers’ route on the mighty Yukon River and drift past centuries-old sites of First Nation fish camps and meeting places. Fun fact: The Yukon River runs from south to north and eventually ends in the Bering Sea, west of Alaska State.

High-adrenaline Adventures on the Tatshenshini River

The famed Tatshenshini River serves up a diverse range of rafting, canoeing and boating expeditions, perfect for exploring the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Wilderness Park, the wild heart of one of the largest bio-preserves in the world. Your river adventure carves its way through the St Elias Range, taking you past vast glaciers and lakes filled with massive icebergs. Look out for bald eagles, grizzlies feeding on spawning salmon, and even the rare blue glacier bear. Test yourself with class 3 and 4 whitewater rapids, or take it slow and soak up the scenery.

The Yukon River in Canada's north-western Yukon Territory draws paddlers from all over the world, many to take part in the Yukon River Quest.
Rafting along the Tatshenshini River during the summer in the Yukon.

Paddle on the Wind

Accessible only by air, the vast Wind River is a tributary of the mighty Peel River, enjoying a rare combination of factors that make it the ideal northern wilderness canoeing journey. This Class II mountain river begins in the scenic Wernecke Mountains and flows through stunningly beautiful landscapes. Offering novice-friendly options, extraordinary alpine hiking from the river, and fantastic fishing, keep your eyes peeled for roaming wildlife, including wolves and bears, in one of North America’s truly wild destinations.

Spend long, relaxed days paddling, camping in tents and eating by the campfire under the midnight sun in the Yukon’s paddling playground. Combine all that with wildlife viewing, beautiful mountain vistas and gold rush history, and you have a paddling wilderness experience you won’t soon forget

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About Author

Nick Walton

Nick Walton is a leading travel and lifestyle journalist, magazine editor, publisher, photographer, travel commentator, and media trainer, based in Hong Kong. He is also managing editor of Artemis Communications, the titles of which include Ultimate Encounters, Alpha Men Asia, and The Art of Business Travel.

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