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Yukon River Logistics and Planning

Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
I know I have to do a trip report but Hogan suggested I post something about logistics. It makes sense to break up the trip into two phases: a) Planning
b)Trip Report

This is Planning. I haven't written a TR yet and may save that for drear winter days.

We did this trip by driving to Whitehorse. Of course it is possible to fly there. If you do allow some extra days in town for your gear to catch up. There are few flights a day and if the plane is full, excess baggage may go on a later flight. There is good taxi service in Whitehorse, excellent restaurants (including the best Mexican food I have ever eaten..I know it seems odd) and accommodations for any budget.

There are several shuttle/livery companies. We used Kanoe People.

You can launch right in front of their shop and go on down the river to Carmacks, Dawson City and beyond. We dud NOT launch in Whitehorse. This trip we chose to launch at Johnson's Crossing on the Teslin River some 50 miles southeast on the Alaska Highway. We chose the added length and wilderness of the Teslin over a Lake Laberge traverse. (The lake IS lovely though. We saw it from shore on our ride back). Kanoe People did that shuttle.

Up North is half a block away . We did not use them but their operation looked just fine as did their equipment


look at the shuttle prices. We rented a canoe from Kanoe People. They offer a drop off service in Dawson City. For $75 we could be rid of paddles and the boat and not have to worry about getting it back to Whitehorse(with rental PFDs are included but we chose to bring our own). This of course is not the only way to do things but for our party of two it seemed the best.

We got our two packs and barrel and us back to Whitehorse via the Husky Bus. Jessie and Sarah are two young people, who came rom Nova Scotia a couple of years ago, and found a need for inexpensive transport. Not everyone can afford the other shuttle services. The "bus" is a fifteen passenger van with a trailer on back so our pack transport was not a problem. We paid $89 each for a seat. Now this van does stop in some intermediate locations like Pelly Crossing and Stewart and you might find yourself sharing a seat with a colorful and perhaps unwashed local. The ride is about six hours. Bring an Ipod for music..no radio.


We did NOT carry topo maps. We did have Len Websters map Guides which are bound waterproof topo maps with GPS coordinates of important locations like campsites. It is in an 8.5 x11 book format, which was quite handy. Just flip as the trip progressed. He rates the campsites according to how well they will accommodate large groups. Also only campsites that are accessible at high water are listed. Much of the camping on the Yukon can be done on sandbars but if the water is high, the sandbars are under water. I personally would avoid any starred campsites. Those are used by outfitters. Getting firewood can be a bit of a chore unless it is early in the season.


LOL..wouldn't you know it.. He just came out with a Teslin River Guide. Too late for us. We did start at Johnsons Crossing and traveled the 120 miles of the Teslin River to join the Yukon at Hootalinqua. We used a Teslin River Guide by Gus Karpes. The latter gave us some history. Websters books are light on that. I wanted to know the history so our other books were by Mike Rourke


Rourkes book goes into history in great detail. this book really enhanced our trip. It is not waterproof so we kept it in a waterproof case and read it at night.

Yukonbooks is the Internet retailsource of Mac's Fireweed Books in Whitehorse. It is a very very good bookshop for any sort of book.

If you forget something or something does not arrive, Coastal Mountain Sports on Main St in Whitehorse is one of the best stocked outdoor stores I have ever seen. Do not expect bargains. They DO have all fuel including Coleman gas and isopro canisters in case you have to fly.


Carmacks: This is the intermediary town.."town" being comparative to surroundings. There is a good campground($15) with hot showers ($3 extra optional) at Coal Mine Campground. They also have a good take out open from about 7 am to 7pm and indoor shelter if it is raining. They have a row of FreeBikes if you need to go the two miles into town to the grocery store. For a little town of 400 its a surprisingly well stocked store (and pricey of course).


Never mind the For Sale sign. Jesse and Sarah explained to me that everything in the Yukon is always for sale.

On to Dawson City. This town is eccentric. Well worth a few days visit. Logistics: When you arrive at the public dock..and the best landmark is the steamship tour boat at the pier, it is easy unloading.BUT..there is no taxi service in Dawson. Your motel or hotel or B and B might be out of town two or three miles. Go across the street to the Information Center. There is staff there that knows who might give a ride and will actually sniff out someone with a pickup.. Dawson is not huge..the main part of the town is about 2/3 mile across and 2 miles long. Its a long portage though. Many motels are out by the gold mines on the Klondike which is about three miles.
There is a campground in town though. It caters to RV's . It does have showers. It will allow tenters though tenters might not like camping on gravel. Its only three blocks from the river.

We were in Dawson three nights and never had a poor meal. This was the best


Jesse and Sarah will pick you up and drop you off anywhere within reason. We had them pick us up at White House Cabins..which was a bit of a walk out of town and next to the ferry (24 hours crossing). And we were dropped off at WalMart in Whitehorse. That's where we stashed our car. Its truly a huge RV park.

Our trip covered about 500 miles. The Teslin is a little longer. Not enough to matter.

The trip from Whitehorse to Dawson takes about 10-14 days, We took 13. We could have made it faster..nine would have been easy. We paddled 4-6 hours a day. I had a GPS and clocked our speed at 6-9 mph. In retrospect I wish we had taken more days. We met a couple just downstream of Carmacks who were going to take 11 days to paddle the 260 miles to Dawson(that stretch is usually taken to be a 5-6 day trip). Turns out they were going to do lots of hiking too..