the
yukon-charley
pass

/ routes / north america / alaska

route overview

distance:

215Mi / 300Km

solitude rating:

5/5

portages:

0

loop or 1-way:

1-way

days:

21

difficulty:

9/10

rapids class rating:

1-1+

type:

River
Contributed by
Igor Muluks

This three week odyssey on one of America's most iconic waterways begins 60 miles from the far western Canadian Yukon Territory border and winds itself through one of the most remote US National Preserves.

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Watch the full adventure then come back here and plan your own.

The Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve namesakes have carved their way through these ancient mountains since the beginning of time and leave behind a breathtaking 600-million year old topographic journey of largely undisturbed landscape which is perfectly experienced kayakpacking.

As you would expect the terrain is harsh and you'll need to depart with the necessary provisions or the bushcraft chops to last the entirety of the paddle. Dropping 200ft over its traverse through the preserve the Yukon has a constant flow of 4-7 mph which could see you complete the 158 miles from your put in at Eagle to the take out at Circle in as little as 5 days days – but we wouldn't suggest it - why would you want to rush through a kayakpackers paradise?

The Yukon is best taken in 10-20 mile days while taking advantage of the numerous island & sandbar camping, and public use cabin opportunities. This will leave ample time for day hikes, fishing, exploration and watching the mighty Yukon reflect on eyrie dotted canyon walls. If your skills allow it plan a few zero days to enjoy the views, solitude and peace.  

This trip took three weeks but the ideal length of this epic kayakpacking trip is going to largely depend on your backcountry survival and fishing skills, your tolerance for lack of human contact, and the weather.  Sidestreams have plentiful pike and arctic grayling so fishing is one of the easiest ways to extend your stores.

which includes bears, extreme changes in weather and water hazards so plan well and take the necessary precautions for your protection.  Bear canisters for your stores while wild camping and utilization of the provision houses while at the public use cabins are a must.  We had surprisingly few near encounters with wildlife of any sort but did take a long gun along as a precaution.

wildlife notes

Don't let the promise of pristine waters and frontier wilderness distract you from proper planning. This is Alaska at its wildest which includes bears, extreme changes in weather and water hazards so plan well and take the necessary precautions for your protection.  Bear canisters for your stores while wild camping and utilization of the provision houses while at the public use cabins are a must.  Surprisingly few near encounters with wildlife of any sort occurred during the journey, however, a long gun was taken along as a precaution.

  • The magnificent views that can only be experienced by kayak.
  • The solitude and freedom that cannot be matched anywhere in the lower 48.
  • Access to the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve which is a treasure for kayakpackers
  • Kandik river cabin at 77 miles in. Northern Pike are plentiful and at about half way its the perfect spot to stop for a few days to stock up and enjoy the wilderness.
  • Mosquitoes won't bother you on the water, sandbars or islands but beware of the mainland.
  • Bears kept their distance but be cautious and use bear canisters or provided storage at the public use cabins.
  • The weather can change drastically in the space of just a few minutes - temperature range from 50º - 85º F
  • Sandbars are plentiful and free of mosquitoes and in our experience bear free.  Use caution however.
  • 7 Public use cabins are available - first come first serve. see: https://www.nps.gov/yuch/planyourvisit/publicusecabins.htm
  • Some of the cabins are difficult to locate.  GPS coordinates are available at the NPS website and make the task easier.
  • Water is sweet, filterable and plentiful.  Filter tributaries as the main branch of the Yukon is silty and will test even the best filtration system after a few days.
  • No resupply between Eagle and Circle.  Plan on provisions for your entire journey.  Best to supply in Fairbanks before heading to the outback. Eagle itself has limited supplies beyond the basics.
  • Circle is a small outpost but it is possible to resupply there if you plan on heading further down river.
  • If you filter your water be sure to back flush your system often to avoid clogging.
IGOR MULUKS

IGOR (Iggy) MULUKS' idea of adventure is trying to find most wild and remote places to travel and explore. It can be found close to home in South Florida where he lives or as far away as Alaska. His camera is his only travel companion.

He was born in Baltic states, grew up close to nature and as a kid was out in the woods a lot since an early age. He's never lost passion for the outdoors and adventures.

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