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Video: Tandem Canoe Trip on Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson

Glenn MacGrady

Staff member
Oct 24, 2012
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A couple paddles 700 km on the Yukon River in July 2023 from Whitehorse to Dawson. They use a 20' Clipper Mackenzie canoe, which has a 40" beam and is 17" deep. They certainly needed all that room for the two dogs they brought along, one a very large and unusually shaven Newfoundland. It is a long video (I watched at 1.5x speed), and has lots of beautiful videography and high altitude drone shots. They stop off at a lot of historic abandoned places and there's wildlife. Their shelter was simply a CCS tarp draped with custom bug net.

Canoe the North has several very high quality videos from the north country. Thanks for sharing!
That's a very interesting trip with loads of historical gold rush era sites. Fort Selkirk is worth an overnight or two. There's a well for better drinking water there also. Five Finger Rapids is a piece of cake if you pay attention.

The Teslin River is another option as it enters the Yukon at mid point of the trip above,

I favor a larger canoe for that trip also as there are no portages and it's all down hill. We take comfortable lawn chairs and a comfortable tent.

Kanoe People is a great outfitter and located on the river in downtown Whitehorse. Scott is a great guy.

In Dawson, there's a good campground across from town and one guy stays with the camp while the other flies back to Whitehorse to get the truck.
Five Finger Rapids gets a lot of pre-trip attention, mostly well deserved, often with a capsize for those who had not paid attention to instructions. It is the kind of experience that gives you a lot of initial trepidation until when after 15 seconds you are through it with smiles and wish you could just turn around and do it again. It looks easy from the observation platform high above. Know to follow the upstream eddy break line on the one good path and rejoice that it worked. In the first photo we are approaching too far right within a reverse flowing eddy with the break line just to our left that we will get to before entering the standing waves. A safety boat on station is following.

YRQ approaching five fingers.jpgFFR Looks easy from here.jpgpaddle hard.jpg
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Five Finger Rapids

Every time I read about or watch a video of Five Fingers Rapid the paddlers go through the very wide right channel between the right shore and a vertical rock island on the left (see yknpdlr's second photo), which culminates in a train of standing waves. I've always wondered why no one goes to the left of the vertical rock island.

In this video, noted UK whitewater paddler Ray Goodwin eddies out left below the vertical rock island, and then goes upstream a way. At least this gives a different and interesting viewpoint.

Race officials stress in a mandatory pre-race briefing that all racers must to go through the right channel. Every one of the five times I have done the Five Fingers, I hear theat at least one racer has capsized. During the YRQ race there is a safety/rescue boat that took my photo. However, since the Y1K race is meant to be totally unsupported, there is no safety boat stationed at FFR and capsizers must swim with boat to self-rescue on a shallow island bar not far below the rapids. A few short miles below FFR is another set of white capping rapids over a line of shallow rocks, Rink Rapids, but there is a far river right channel that is practically flat and safe to traverse. In all cases a SPOT or equivalent Sat messenger is mandatory.
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The video clearly shows the route around the standing waves, but I've seen groups of European tourist paddlers head straight into the white horses. Depending on water level, the waves can be 4' by my estimate.