20537
Yukon Territories
Canoeing the Yukon: Pristine Nature and Gold Rush History
Explore the Yukon River by canoe, learning about Gold Rush history, exploring historic sites and enjoying exceptional fishing in pristine nature on this 200-mile journey.
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Program No. 20537RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
2,399
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12 days
11 nights
32 meals
11 B 10 L 11 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome
Whitehorse, Yukon
D
Days Inn - Whitehorse

Activity note: 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.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with your Group Leader and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. We'll review your gear and you'll have time late this afternoon to pick up any missing camping or fishing supplies. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. While the canoe skill level rating for this program is “beginner” with no canoeing or camping experience necessary, it is physically demanding and involves canoeing an average of 25 miles per day, an average of 6-8 hours. We will also be hauling canoes in/out of water, setting up/tearing down camp, and helping to prepare meals. The small group (no more than 12) will provide an in-depth canoeing experience in the pristine wilderness of the Yukon River. Each day’s canoeing adventure will be determined by river conditions, group interests, and serendipitous opportunities for viewing wildlife, fishing, etc. We have no set times or curfews! We prepare our campsite at the end of our day, enjoying the pristine wilderness, and have free time for exploring, fishing, etc. We will experience the activities described, though not necessarily on the days indicated in order to allow us the freedom of adventure. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel

Evening: Presentation: The Mighty Yukon Territory. "Yukon” means “great river” and is aptly named! It runs more than 1,850 miles (3,000km) from its source in lakes south of Whitehorse to the Bering Sea. Native cultures.

DAY
2
The Mighty Yukon River, Minto Landing
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: Before leaving for Minto, we can stop at a hardware store for any last minute items you may need. We will then drive to Minto stopping at few locations along the way. In Minto, we will go over basic canoe safety and paddling techniques. We might only end up paddling for an hour or two today. There is not a lot of camping spot in this area and might have to improvise one.

Breakfast: At the hotel

Morning: Our canoe trip starts with an early morning drive along the legendary Yukon River to our launch point in Minto. “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 eight wonderful days, we’ll paddle over 200 miles (325km) on this great river to roam the Yukon wilderness.

Lunch: Lunch en route to Minto.

Afternoon: Our expedition travels on this mighty river, exploring several abandoned settlements, such as Fort Selkirk. We will set up our camp on the gravel and sand banks of the river, where we can enjoy a refreshing bath in the Yukon.

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 group leader shares the history of this area. Each evening will vary, but topics may include: Gold Rush history and lore, First Nation culture, magnificent wildlife of the Yukon, climatic effects on the region and its wildlife. Best of all are the spontaneous discussions provoked by our daily adventures!

DAY
3
Fort Selkirk
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: A very exciting day today! Not much paddling but we should arrive at Fort Selkirk within an hour and a half. We must carry our gear up a slope to make our camp. Once installed, we will visit the old village with the help of a Selkirk First Nation guide. The Selkirk People have been living in the area before the Yukon was even on the map. Listen to interesting stories of how it was and how it has changed over the years.

Breakfast: At our campsite

Morning: Our campground is located right beside the Yukon River so it is a quick trip to the put in. We’ll break camp and get an early start. 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 each night are open-ended as is our daily paddling distance, although we will typically paddle about 6-8 hours a day (*note: This can vary!). We will experience all the activities listed in the following days, but be aware that the itinerary may vary from the day listed in order to allow us the freedom of adventure.

Lunch: We prepare our lunches at breakfast, and at mid-day we haul our canoes out of the water and relax as we eat picnic-style.

Afternoon: We’ll pass by the confluences of the Pelly River before we arrive at historic Fort Selkirk, which we will explore on foot with a resident First Nation instructor. The oldest European “settlement” in the Yukon, Fort Selkirk was established as a fur trading post by Robert Campbell of the Hudson Bay Company in 1848. The original fort was razed by coastal Tlingit traders who historically held a trading monopoly with inland native bands. The post was re-established in the late 1800’s as gold rush traffic increased and quickly became known for its riverside hospitality, roughly halfway between Whitehorse and Dawson City. Today, Fort Selkirk is a Yukon Territorial Historic Site, and is home to a few residents from the local Selkirk First Nation.

Dinner: We'll make and enjoy our own dinner.

Evening: We'll gather around the fire for stories of about historic events and travelers on this river.

DAY
4
Pristine Wilderness
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: Today we will be on the river all day, canoeing by the basalt walls for the most part. We should be covering approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers). On a day like this, we really get immersed in the beauty of the majestic Yukon.

Breakfast: At our campsite

Morning: Enjoy the far reaches of the Yukon as we paddle onward today, tracing the route of the historic Gold Rush of 1898.

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. The rapids were dynamited years ago by the Canadian Government to accommodate the sternwheelers and paddleboats traveling from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

Dinner: We'll join together and make dinner.

Evening: Gather ‘round to learn about Early Native American lore and history.

DAY
5
Kirkman Creek homestead, Stewart River confluence
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: This is a fun day for the fishermen. We can stop to cast at a few creeks. Might as well enjoy it now before the river gets filled with silt, making fishing a lot more difficult. Because of the longer breaks for fishing, today might seem a little longer.

Breakfast: At our campsite

Morning: This morning, we'll make a stop at Kirkman Creek, a former telegraph office. This 120-year-old homestead is still in use, and has a working bakery. As we paddle on today, we’ll experience the confluence of the Stewart and Yukon Rivers from our unique vantage point. The Stewart River was an important component of the Yukon Territory's transport chain, carrying silver ore from the heart of the Yukon Territory to the Yukon River and on to Whitehorse via the White Pass Railroad. We'll take a hike on the opposite bank of the Yukon River from the mouth of the Stewart and take in the view of the 20-mile-wide White River Valley in Kluane National Park.

Lunch: Picnic 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: Enjoy dinner of our own making.

Evening: Maybe tonight’s the night for a little fishing, or maybe just to relax with your feet in the river!

DAY
6
King Salmon Dome, Active Gold Mining, First Nations
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: A short paddle to Kirkman creek where we stop to greet a First Nation family that lives off the grid. You can buy coffee or baked goods while asking a few questions about their lifestyles. Your group leader can facilitate a discussion. We will have lunch at the confluence of the White river, where the Yukon river changes from being clear to extremely full of silt. We must fill our jugs at creeks. A little more paddling after lunch. We must stay close together because the river gets braided.

Breakfast: At our campsite.

Morning: This morning, we'll observe the river widening into the Klondike Valley. We'll cross Indian River- one of the many creeks that mouth into the Yukon from King Salmon Dome, a geographical high point that sources many other rivers. We will see an increase in river traffic as we enter the river systems that were dredged to bring gold into the Yukon River. We will encounter active gold mining rivers and begin to hear gold dredges operating. Many were dormant for 50 years, but have recently been activated once again with the increase in the price of gold.

Lunch: Pull out for a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Maybe this afternoon is the time for a break and some fishing.

Dinner: Enjoy a relaxing dinner at our campsite.

Evening: Time to share some tales from the Tutchone and other First Nations Peoples.

DAY
7
Bald Eagles & Trappers Cabins
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: A shorter day today so it is a good opportunity to take our time to enjoy the scenery.

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 in previous programs, we have seen grizzly bears strolling the shoreline.

Lunch: Picnic lunch

Afternoon: We'll paddle past many small islands and experience good views. Be on the lookout for other relics along the way, such as remains of trapper cabins and wood camps.

Dinner: 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 would you acclimatize to days with 20 hours of darkness and only 4 hours of light?

DAY
8
Yukon Lore
Yukon River
B,L,D
Camping along the Yukon River

Activity note: Today we could take the opportunity of making a stop at ancient voices camp where a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in family have been living. For those who are interested, there is a short hike that goes on the bluffs if you would like a good viewpoint of the river. This is our last day and evening on the river so we hope you take the time to take it all in.

Breakfast: At our campsite

Morning: With the compass needle north, we paddle onwards learning about the plentiful plant, animal and aquatic life from our group leader. 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 continues to unveil its treasures. Observe the changing conditions as water turns from blue to gray to green, braiding channels as it flows North. The silt remains from this glaciated landscape.

Dinner: Another tasty meal prepared by our team!

Evening: One more night under the beautiful Northern skies. Enjoy the peace or spend some time with our group leader learning about the Northern Lights.

DAY
9
Arrive Dawson City and enjoy a night on the town!
Dawson City, Yukon
B,L,D
Westmark Inn Dawson City

Activity note: We know we are approaching Dawson when we start noticing the mossehide slide. Dawson is at the base of it. Once we dock we will help each other out to pack all our equipment. Depending on timing, lunch will be either on the river or in town. As much as you are excited to have a shower, we will first show you what the town looks like. It's too early to check-in anyways. Afternoon is at your leisure. We will meet for dinner before going to see the can-can dancers at the casino.

Breakfast: At our campsite

Morning: Today, we'll reach Dawson City! Located at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, Dawson City is a welcome sight after more than eight days on the river without seeing a town or village.

Lunch: Picnic lunch

Afternoon: Check in to the hotel in Dawson City. Enjoy some time on your own to explore this frontier town.

Dinner: We'll celebrate the end of our paddling journey at dinner tonight at a restaurant in Dawson City.

Evening: This evening, we’ll “hit the town” just like the Klondike Gold Rushers of more than a century ago. We’ll visit the historic Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino. This lively casino offers all the usual games, including Texas Hold-em Poker, and a raucous Can-Can floor show. Hotel-overnight accommodation in Dawson City.

DAY
10
Explore Dawson City, Bonanza Creek, and Pan for Gold
Dawson City, Yukon
B,L,D
Westmark Inn Dawson City

Activity note: Morning, we will explore inside historical buildings. Learn that there are truly "strange things done under the Midnight sun by the men who moil for gold". After lunch, we will explore where gold was discovered, panned and dredged. Watch out not to get struck by gold fever when you try panning for gold. End the day with a drive up the mountain and take 360 degree panoramic photo. The night is yours to go win at black jack, explore the confines of this old town or just go meet locals at the pit.

Breakfast: At the hotel

Morning: This morning, we’ll take an excursion through Dawson City and visit many important historic sites, including the SS Keno, Palace Grand Theatre, the Commissioner's Residence, and the cabins of Jack London and Robert Service.

Lunch: At a Dawson City restaurant

Afternoon: We'll travel by minibus out to the Bonanza Creek goldfields to the site of the original discovery of gold that led to the Klondike Gold Rush, and the famous Dredge #4 National Historic Site. We’ll have a go at gold panning ourselves and see what our luck yields. Our last stop of the day will be at the Midnight Dome overlook, which provides a great view of Dawson City and both the Klondike and Yukon River valleys, and gives us a sense as to the vastness of the territory we paddled through the past few days.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Dawson City

Evening: At leisure

DAY
11
Transfer to Whitehorse
Whitehorse, Yukon
B,L,D
Days Inn - Whitehorse

Activity note: An early start for an 8-hour drive (332 miles) along the Klondike Highway via minibus. We will talk about lifestyles of the people that live in these different communities along the way. For those interested, we shall take a hike at five finger rapids and talk about the history of this sacred area. Once in Whitehorse, we will meet one last time for dinner. Our group, now bound by the experiences lived and rooted by the mighty Yukon waters, must say goodbye.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will begin our drive back to Whitehorse, stopping at pleasant Moose Creek Lodge for a coffee break along the way.

Lunch: En route to Whitehorse

Afternoon: We continue our drive to Whitehorse, stopping at Stewart Crossing for coffee, baked goods, and to check out local art. At this point, the highway generally follows the Yukon River Valley. We'll make several more stops along the way, including Pelly Crossing, which is a First Nation village. There, we'll visit a local exhibition and view crafts. As we near Carmacks, we begin to see the mighty river. Just outside Carmacks, we get a great view of Five Finger Rapids.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Whitehorse.

Evening: At leisure. Our hotel is within easy walking distance of the Yukon river and downtown Main Street. Then prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
Whitehorse, Yukon
B

Activity note: Hotel check out is by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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