Relaxed paddling on smooth current from Pelly Crossing to Dawson City on the Pelly and Yukon Rivers takes us through a remarkable region full of the lore of the Klondike Goldrush captured so perfectly in the poetic words by Robert Service and the yarns of Jack London. This time of year offers summery night skies and perhaps our first glimpse of the magical and elusive Aurora Borealis. Novice, intermediate or vintage paddlers can step back through time on this historic, wilderness adventure capped off by a final paddle into Dawson City – our favourite frontier town!
The Yukon River is an ideal trip for novice to intermediate canoeists who want to immerse themselves in the colourful history of the Klondike Gold Rush. Paddlers find the trip well within their physical ability with enough challenge to experience a substantial feeling of accomplishment and the satisfaction of a profound wilderness adventure that reaches deep into their soul. The historic Yukon River is smooth and fast with the speed of our canoes easily averaging 12km an hour.
The scenery along the Yukon River is stunning – from ancient mountain ranges to the quietly majestic valleys below. Stepping back in time we encounter remnants of the Klondike Goldrush of 1898 – the world’s last great Goldrush. Long abandoned cabins, placer mines and trading camps are scattered along the river – there is no civilization until we reach Dawson City. The mixture of expansive wilderness and the historic sites brings the recent Klondike Gold Rush to life. Just over one hundred years ago, thirty thousand crazed gold seekers sailed, paddled and rowed the Yukon River on their way to Dawson City. The river has also been an inland trade route for thousands of years used by the First Nations as a connection to the coastal communities.
After the Goldrush wound down, local communities continued to use the Yukon River as a link to Whitehorse. The river has a huge history of sternwheelers carrying passengers and cargo stopping at the wood camps that sprang up along the river to supply these boats with much needed firewood. It was not until 1953 when the Klondike Highway was completed that this river ceased to be a major transportation route. Since then, the small communities on the river have faded away and the wilderness has reclaimed its land.
We make spectacular time while on the water in our 17-foot canoes under the endless sky of the arctic summer in the land of the midnight sun. While on the river, we might encounter moose, wolves, mountain sheep, bears, falcons or eagles. Our campsites are typically located on open gravel bars or tucked into the boreal forest with grand views of the surrounding hills. We take pride in coaching our trippers with general camp and canoeing skills so their experience is both enlightening and empowering. Everyone contributes equally with pitching tents, setting up camp and preparing camp meals. Our hearty menu of fresh food is sure to satisfy your Yukon-sized appetite. There is quiet time available for photography, writing in your journal and sharing campfire songs or yarns.
For us, the Yukon Territory is a magical place in which to pause from our hectic everyday life and take stock of the things we hold dear. Our greatest hope is that in the face of the Yukon River’s spectacular beauty, our paddlers are challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We pull out at Dawson City to spend two nights in this frontier town with accommodation at the Triple J Inn. Dawson City is simply our very favourite frontier town! You will know that Robert Service was right when he wrote in The Spell of the Yukon, “I want to come back, and I will!” Come join us on a journey through time. Let the adventure begin…