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Canoeing the Yukon: Pristine Nature and Gold Rush History

Program Number: 20537RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/11/2013 - 8/20/2013; 6/8/2016 - 6/18/2016; 8/17/2016 - 8/27/2016;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
Price starting at: $1,975.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Water Sports; Independent City Discoveries Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 26; 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Tackle the legendary Yukon River by canoe, paddling more than 200 miles over eight days as you explore the vast hinterlands of the Yukon. Pitch camp at a new take-out site daily and commune with nature as you prepare and eat your meals outdoors.


• Canoe on the mighty Yukon River from Minto, near historic Fort Selkirk to Dawson City in the heart of Gold Rush territory.
• Marvel as you are carried along on the rapid current of the Yukon at 5 mph before you even start paddling!
• Tales of Jack London and Robert Service and the Klondike's raucous Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino await you in Dawson City!

Activity Particulars

Paddling up to 25 miles a day (6-8 hours). Pitch camp, fix meals. Flat Class 1 river. No technical skills are required (prior canoeing experience not needed), but this is a physically strenuous and demanding program.

Itinerary Summary

Independent arrival Whitehorse, 1 night; tent camping on Yukon River, 7 nights; Dawson City, 1 night; Minibus to Whitehorse, 1 night; independent departure.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


Named for the nearby rapids that resemble the mane of a white horse, the city of Whitehorse is both the capital and largest city of the Yukon. Its location near the northern range of the Rockies offers a mild climate and allows residents easy access to outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking and hiking.

Yukon River

The nearly 2,000-mile-long Yukon River flows from British Columbia through the Yukon Territory into Alaska. It was a favored means of transportation during the Klondike Gold Rush and the 30-mile stretch between Lake Laberge and the Teslin River is a designated National Heritage River and part of Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park.

Whitehorse: Modern hotel with private bath. Yukon River: Double or single dome tents. Dawson City: Modern hotel with private bath.
Meals and Lodgings
   Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel
  Whitehorse, Yukon 1 night
   Camping along the Yukon River
  Yukon River 7 nights
   Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel
  Whitehorse, Yukon 1 night
 Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel
Type: Inn
  Description: Canada's Best Value Inn Whitehorse is a centrally located 2 story hotel that offers spacious guest rooms with either a mountain or river view, conveniently located in downtown Whitehorse, Yukon
  Contact info: 102 Wood Street
Whitehorse, YT Y1A2E3 Canada
phone: 867-667-7801
  Facility amenities: The comfortable guest rooms feature free wireless high-speed Internet access, microwave, mini-fridge, cable TV, coffeemaker, hairdryer, radio, and wake-up service. An iron and ironing board are available in the guest laundromat. This is the only hotel in Whitehorse that provides heated underground parking. The hotel also offers a business center with fax/copy service and a 24-hour multilingual front desk.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Call or email hotel Participants can book pre and post night stays with Adam. His email is
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call or email hotel Participants can book pre and post night stays with Adam. His email is
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Camping along the Yukon River
Type: Tents
  Description: Each night the group will be camping at a different location. See itinerary for additional information.
  Contact info: Yukon River
Yukon River, YK  Canada
phone: 999-999-9999
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Shared bathrooms while camping.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in begins at 3:00 PM. Orientation begins at 6:00 PM. You will be staying at Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
9:00 AM after breakfast. Hotel check out by 11:00 AM. You will be staying at Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. We've included a copy of the "Agreement of terms of participation" for you to review in advance of the program. You will be required to sign this agreement onsite before participating in the program activities. A fishing license is optional. It can be purchased in Whitehorse.
  Parking availability:
Parking is available at the airport for $1.50 per day at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Whitehorse, Yukon
  From End of Program
  Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Whitehorse, YK





Commercial Van/Shuttle


Air Canada (888-247-2262; serves Vancouver and Whitehorse. Whitehorse-based Air North (800-661-0407; serves Dawson City, Old Crow, Inuvik in the NWT, Fairbanks in Alaska, and Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Whitehorse airport (YXY; 867-667-8440; is five minutes west of downtown off the Alaska Hwy.


Whitehorse, YT (to Canada's Best Value Inn)


From Airport




Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes 




4 miles


Whitehorse Taxi Cab: (867) 393-6543 Yellow Cab: (867) 668-4811 NorthStar Taxi: (867) 393-3323


Whitehorse, YT (from Canada's Best Value Inn)


To Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Canada's Best Value Inn
phone: 867-667-7801
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes 




4 miles


The hotel offers shuttle service to the airport (for a fee). Make arrangements with the hotel.


Whitehorse, YT (to Canada's Best Value Inn)


From Bus Terminal






Alaska Direct Bus Line (867-668-4833;; 501 Ogilvie St) located 0.65 miles from the hotel. Greyhound Canada (867-667-2223, 800-661-8747;; 2191 2nd Ave) reaches the end of the line in Whitehorse, 0.4 miles from the hotel. White Pass & Yukon Route (Whitehorse ticket office, Front St) offers rail and bus connection to/from Skagway (one daily, May to mid-September). The transfer point is Fraser, BC. Call a taxi for transportation to the hotel.

Equipment Requirements: Sleeping bag (good to freezing and below), sleeping pad (preferably "Therm-a-rest"), rain jacket with hood, rain pants, rubber boots, neoprene booties, 1 liter water bottle (no glass). If you are bringing photography equipment, bring a dry bag for ease of access.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcome/ Orientation
(Sunday, August 11)

Note: The canoe skill level rating is "beginner" with no canoeing or camping experience necessary. However, the overall trip is strenuous with a norm of 6 to 8 hours of paddling per day (could be more or less) as well as hauling canoes in and out of water, camp set up and tear down, meal preparation, etc.

 Arrive To: Whitehorse, Yukon
 Afternoon: Welcome to a grand adventure on the mighty Yukon River! Whether you are skilled or a beginner makes no difference as our expert guide will provide instruction and tips for all levels, and the Yukon is the perfect river for a sensational canoeing experience.

At our afternoon orientation, get acquainted with your fellow adventurers. The group size is small (no more than 12) to provide the most intimate canoeing experience in the pristine wilderness of the Yukon River.

We’ll review your gear and you’ll have a chance to pick-up any missing items late this afternoon.

 Dinner: At the hotel
 Evening: Presentation: The Mighty Yukon
Accommodations: Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: The Mighty Yukon River/ Lake Laberge
(Monday, August 12)
 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Our canoe trip starts with a transfer to the legendary Yukon River. “Yukon” means “great river” and is aptly named! It travels more than 1850 miles (3000km) from its source lakes south of Whitehorse, to the Bering Sea. During the next seven wonderful days, we’ll paddle over 180 miles (300km) on this great river to roam the Yukon wilderness.
 Lunch: Pull out for a tasty lunch.
 Afternoon: On our first day of paddling, we’ll travel the Yukon as it widens into Lake Laberge. We’ll do some shoreline paddling on this first 30-mile section of the river, a narrow, winding stretch, and be rewarded with some great scenery.

Lake Laberge has left its mark in history due to the famous poem by Robert W. Service “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” and two books by Jack London where the lake is mentioned: Grit of Women and The Call of the Wild. With the backdrop of this rugged and scenic area, both author’s writings take on new meaning.

 Dinner: Join your other adventurers to prepare a delicious dinner, much deserved after our first delightful day on the River.
 Evening: Relax and discuss as your guide shares the history of this area. Each evening will vary, but topics may include: Gold Rush history and lore, First Nation culture, history and lore, magnificent wildlife of the Yukon, climatic effects on the region and its wildlife. The best of all though are the spontaneous discussions provoked by our daily adventures!
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Pristine Wilderness
(Tuesday, August 13)
 Breakfast: At our campsite
 Morning: Each day will be an adventure determined by the River, your interests and opportunities to be taken as they arise such as wildlife viewing, fishing, etc. Our campsites per night are thus open-ended as is our daily goal paddling distance although we will typically paddle about 6-8 hours a day (*note: This can vary!).

We will experience all the delights listed in the following days, but be aware that the day and the delight may vary from the day listed in order to allow us the freedom of adventure.

 Lunch: Pull out for a relaxing lunch.
 Afternoon: Far from the tourist routes, you’ll start to really experience the pristine wilderness as we travel on this afternoon, following in the trail of rugged miners and prospectors.
 Dinner: Another delightful concoction of our own doing to enjoy this evening.
 Evening: Gather around the fire for stories of about historic events and travelers on this river.
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: 17 Mile Camp/ Watch for Bears
(Wednesday, August 14)
 Breakfast: At our campsite
 Morning: Enjoy the far reaches of the Yukon as we paddle onward today, passing many relics of the historic Gold Rush of 1898.

As the riverboats plyed the Yukon in days gone by, there were over 100 wood camps set up along the River, each producing 200-300 cords of wood to supply the riverboats with fuel. The woodyards were spaced at intervals along the River so the paddleboats could stop and get their fuel for the next leg of the trip.

Step back in time to what “used to be,” as you stop at 17 Mile Wood Camp, and wander amongst these remnants of history….the remains of a two-room cabin and remnants of others. Standing in the steps of a bygone era….is for many people, an awesome experience.

 Lunch: picnic lunch
 Afternoon: Back on the River, keep an eye out on the shore for the ever-present bears and other wildlife foraging.

The Yukon River is a delightful river to paddle and explore due to it’s consistently swift current, yet lack of technical water. There are no rapids on the River nor portages. The rapids were dynamited years ago by the Canadian Government to accommodate the sternwheelers and paddleboats traveling from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

 Dinner: Another welcome culinary creation
 Evening: Gather ‘round to learn about Early Native American lore and history.
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Gold Rush Days
(Thursday, August 15)
 Breakfast: At our campsite
 Morning: Gold! As we paddle along this area of the River, we are following in the exact trail once frequented by stampeders finding their way to the Klondike gold fields. A prospector named George Holt found gold nuggets on gravel bars in the Hootalinqua (Teslin) river in the 1870s. The news drew southern prospectors to the north long before the world heard of Klondike riches.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch
 Afternoon: Explore the abandoned settlement of Hootalinqua, where once about 100 miners lived. This settlement became a supply point, and a N.W.M.P post was built here. You could even find a telegraph office and a Taylor and Drury store here, and the roadhouse and telegraph office remain yet today along with remnants of other buildings.

 Dinner: What’s up tonight for dinner? A yummy delight of our making!
 Evening: Maybe tonight’s the night for a little fishing, or maybe just to relax with your feet in the river!
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: First Nation Peoples/ Fish/Hike/Relax
(Friday, August 16)
 Breakfast: At our campsite.
 Morning: Many First Nation families hunted, fished and trapped in this area and the name Hootalinqua comes a Northern Tutchone word. Hootalinqua was a popular gathering site for trade and visiting among many of the First Nation peoples. As you paddle, you can well imagine their gatherings here.

 Lunch: Pull out for a picnic lunch.
 Afternoon: Maybe this afternoon is the time for a break and some fishing. Or maybe you want to troll with a streamer behind your canoe as you paddle. Either way, it’s a great adventure to capture a Yukon pike.

Set up camp on the gravel and sand banks of the mighty River, and enjoy a refreshing bath in the Yukon.

 Dinner: Enjoy a relaxing dinner after a refreshing day.
 Evening: Time to share some tales from the Tutchone and other First Nations Peoples.
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Bald Eagles and Trappers Cabins
(Saturday, August 17)
 Breakfast: At the campsite
 Morning: Lots of wildlife viewing as we travel. Black bears are common in the Yukon Valley. Watch the ridges or the cliffs along the river to spot busy mammals.

Moose are numerous in the forested foothills and bald eagles nest along the river banks. Beavers are busy getting their winter supplies in. Several times we have seen grizzly bears strolling the shoreline.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch
 Afternoon: Other relics along the way…. fascinating remains of trappers cabins and wood camps, and then there is….Shipyard Island, where standing in the middle of nowhere, are the remains of the steamer “Evelyn.”

As we paddle on, we’ll “experience” the confluence of the Teslin and the Salmon Rivers from our unique River vantage point.

 Dinner: Hungry again after a refreshing day, enjoy dining in the great outdoors.
 Evening: Gather around to learn more about survival methods during the harsh winters and dramatic climate changes in this far North Country. How does one acclimatize to 20 hours of darkness and only 4 hours of light a day?
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Cyr’s Dredge and Yukon Lore
(Sunday, August 18)
 Breakfast: At our campsite
 Morning: With the compass needle north, we paddle onwards learning about the plentiful plant, animal and aquatic life from our guide.

Look at the ridges, the hills, the river banks, and consider….could this valley of the Yukon really have been as many anthropologists believe, the main immigration route for North America’s first human inhabitants…. traveling across a now-submerged isthmus joining present-day Alaska with Russia’ Siberia?

 Lunch: Picnic lunch
 Afternoon: The history of the River unveils another of its treasures - Cyrs Gold Dredge, which was floated down the river for some summer gold mining. It was ingeniously made from a stripped-down caterpillar tractor, a car motor and various home-made parts. Although the partners mined 72 ounces of gold from the river bars in 20 days, they did not return and the dredge remains as another remnant of the River’s lore.
 Dinner: Another great concoction by our team!
 Evening: One more night under the beautiful Northern skies. Enjoy the peace or spend some time with our guide learning about the Northern Lights.
Accommodations: Camping along the Yukon River
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Carmacks/ Whitehorse
(Monday, August 19)
 Breakfast: At our campsite
 Morning: After a week on the river with very few signs of civilization, we arrive at the small native village of Carmacks, which was founded by Klondike Gold Rush co-discoverer, George Carmack.

Discover the culture underlying this ancient village.

 Lunch: Picnic lunch
 Afternoon: There are only 4 bridges that cross the Yukon River in its length of 430 miles. At Carmacks, we find one of those bridges, and part from our canoes here.

Travel the Klondike Highway back to Whitehorse by charter van, a journey of just under 3 hours and transfer to our hotel.

 Dinner: Our celebratory dinner of our journey.... at the hotel.
 Evening: Time to relax after our adventure and to share stories with your new friends.
Accommodations: Canada's Best Value Inn River View Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Farewells and Departures
(Tuesday, August 20)
 Depart From: Whitehorse
 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Independent departures
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Whitehorse, Yukon Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum
Ride into history on a genuine mining locomotive. Discover the pivotal role of copper and rail in Whitehorse history. Open daily June to Sept. Covered picnic and play area. Location: 91928 Alaska Highway, Whitehorse Y1A 5B7 Phone: 1 (867) 667-6198 For additional information, visit
  MacBride Museum of Yukon History
Yukon adventure starts here! From gold rush fever to the birth of Whitehorse, the MacBride Museum offers a complete view of the people and events that built Canada’s Yukon. Gold panning! Family Fun! Open all year. Location: 1124 First Avenue Whitehorse Y1A 1A4 Phone: 1 (867) 667-2709 For additional information, visit
  Old Log Church Museum
Experience Yukon’s spirited history within one of the oldest buildings in Whitehorse. Carry away a sense of the passion of the early pioneers and missionaries who helped shape Yukon’s history. Location: Third Avenue and Elliott Street Whitehorse Y1A 6K8 Phone: 867-668-2555 For additional information, visit
  Waterfront Trolley
Rolling alongside the Yukon River on our 1925 trolley is a delightful way to hear the fascinating stories of Whitehorse and the Yukon River. Open June to September. Location: 1127 First Avenue Whitehorse, YT Y1A 0G5 Phone: (867) 667-6355 For additional information, visit
  Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Explore the Ice Age history of the Yukon. Meet Woolly Mammoths and other large extinct animals. Hunt in our spear-throwing range. Enjoy our two films. Guided tours. Open daily May to September. Location: Km 1423 Alaska Highway Whitehorse Y1A 1H2 Phone: 1 (867) 667-8855 For additional information, visit
  Yukon Transportation Museum
A Moving Experience. True Yukon stories live here. Come and experience big, impressive modes of transportation—dramatic, authentic, and personal stories of Yukon ingenuity and self-sufficiency. Location: Beside the Whitehorse Airport, 30 Electra Crescent Whitehorse Y1A 6E6 Phone: (867) 668-4792 For additional information, visit
  Yukon Wildlife Preserve
The Yukon Wildlife Preserve, located 25 minutes north of Whitehorse, offers visitors self-guided walking and skiing tours, as well as interpretive bus tours, while viewing 10 major species of northern animals in their natural habitat. Location: Km 8 (Mile 5) Takhini Hotsprings Road Whitehorse Y1A 7A2 Phone: 1 (867) 456-7300 For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America

Author: E. C. Pielou

Alaska Trees and Shrubs

Author: Les Viereck

Alaska's History: the People, Land and Events of the North Country

Author: Harry Ritter

Description: This is a small, easily readable "digest" of Alaska's history. It is great for a quick overview and it is a good size for tucking into a suitcase or reading on a plane.

Alaska: An American Colony

Author: Stephen Haycox

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms

Author: David Arora


All poetry by

Author: Robert Service

Call of the Wild

Author: Jack London

Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike

Author: Charlotte Gray

Guide to the Birds of Alaska

Author: Robert H. Armstrong

Klondike: The Last Great Goldrush

Author: Pierre Berton

The Alaska Native Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Author: Maria Sháa Tláa Williams (Editor)

The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North

Author: Beverley Gray

Description: Available for purchase online at

The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush

Author: Kathryn Morse

The Yukon

Author: Pat & Baiba Morrow

Wild Flowers of the Yukon, Alaska & Northwestern Canada

Author: John Trelawny

Wildflowers Along the Alaska Highway

Author: Verna E. Pratt

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