The Yukon. It’s a place that looms large in the minds of many. Few other places in the world remain so unchanged by modern life. Considered a once-in-a-lifetime dream destination by many canoeists, the territory’s vast wilderness has always inspired dreamers and explorers, including the works of author Jack London and poet Robert Service, as well as North America’s largest gold rush in history.
For locals—you might hear them referred to as sourdoughs— the Yukon offers much more than a single northern river bucket-list trip. Within a one-hour drive from the little metropolis of Whitehorse—the territory’s capital—there’s something for everyone: great mountain hiking and biking, crystal clear rivers, easy fishing, exciting rapids and spectacular canoe tripping. The wilderness is on our doorstep.
While I love and have paddled many rivers in the territory, it’s the nearby Takhini that holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I learned everything I know about canoeing. —Peter Mather
If you have a day visit spectacular Miles Canyon for easy hiking along the river edge, just minutes south of the city.
If you have a weekend enjoy the upper stretch of the Takhini River from the lake down to the first government campground. Stop for a hike in the ancient sand dunes on river right and play in the dead tree forest. Camp at the rapid Jaws, catch fish and enjoy a fresh fish lunch cooked over the open fire.
If you have a week spend the first couple of days exploring the headwaters of the Takhini River at Kusawa Lake. Sleep on the nicest beaches in the Yukon before heading down river. Take out on the Takhini River Bridge, just 10 kilometers outside of the capital city.
If you have two weeks venture further. The 715-kilometer trip north from the Whitehorse city dock to Dawson City’s shores traces the gold rush route and offers gorgeous gravel bar camping, scenic mountain vistas, historical sites and great wildlife viewing. Plus, the logistics of this road-accessed northern river trip are very simple.
AVERAGE SUMMER HIGH
HOURS OF DAYLIGHT
19 (Whitehorse in June)
33,897 (People) 220,000 (Caribou)
Grayling, hawks and herds of elk. In August, watch for the red flash of Chinook salmon darting under your canoe. Further from town, look for caribou, bears and wolves.
The Takhini Hot Springs are 100-year-old hot pools for soaking and relaxing, located just 28 kilometers from downtown Whitehorse.
The Snake River offers the perfect combination of wilderness, incredible hiking, abundant wildlife and fun whitewater.
Find a listing of outfitters offering gear rentals as well as guided trips at www.yukonwild.com.
A wetsuit or drysuit as water temperatures are barely above freezing even on the warmest days.
This article was originally published in Canoeroots, Volume 15 • Issue 3. Read this issue.