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Thread: Paddling the Yukon River

  1. #1
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    Default Paddling the Yukon River

    While I have never paddled in AK, I have a lot of experience paddling in Ontario and Minnesota. I'm considering a paddle trip on the Yukon in 2014 or 15. I have a SIL and grandson in Juneau. My SIL is an experienced outdoorsman also. My grandson will be 6 or 7, depending on which year we choose. I have ordered the MIlepost book and Paddling the Yukon to assess the practicality of the trip. As I live in Minnesota, I am contemplating between driving up with my own gear/canoes, versus the option of renting locally. We want to keep costs as reasonable as possible.

    The routes I'm considering are either, Eagle to Circle or Circle to Dalton Hwy. Fishing is an important component. While I've caught monster Northern Pike, I've never fished for graying or sheefish. Both are of interest. I also like salmon. The timeframe I'm looking at is July into mid-August. Anyone know the river miles for Circle to Dalton Hwy?

    Any thoughts on working out logistics for this? Are there places we can rent canoes? Are there any shuttle services in the area? Which river segment would you suggest and why? Is one segment better fishing than the other? We plan to fish the tributaries, rather than the main river. We would have seven to ten days for the trip.

    I can understand why you may not wish to post good spots to fish, but if you could pm some good places to try. All hints/help appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Rich

  2. #2
    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    I've not done a trip like this but this may be of some help http://www.danmaclean.com/

    Pretty much all the shallow clear water tributaries will hold grayling. Easy to catch on flies or spinners. Your other desired fish should be listed here. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...runtiming.main

    I've fished the Dall river for pike and killed em.... keep the regulation book on you as different tributaries have different rules.

    Couple other links you may find interesting..

    http://www.arcticwild.com/schedule/i...ver-canoe.html

    http://www.eaglecanoerentals.com/ << although its a differnet section of river

    http://2paddle1.com/canoe-rental.php

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgkE6nQCh2M

    Oh and don't for get the bug dope!!!

    Best of luck to ya!
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2K7sV-K74

  3. #3
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    hey gramps,
    you might check out the yukon charley national preserve website'
    a lot of info there.
    you might take a look at the usgs maps of that area, the contour of those two floats is quite a bit different. ( different scenery )
    there is nothing as satisfying as taking young people out in the country for adventure.
    good luck and have fun with your grandson.

  4. #4
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    The river between Eagle and Circle is without a doubt the more scenic float. When you head downriverfrom Circle the terrain changes from less mountainous to more of a braided, less gradient flow river....spreading out on the Yukon Flats...

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    Gramps,

    I grew up on the BWCA and Quetico also and have traveled much of the area you now seek info on.

    May I suggest a different twist as I don't consider the Yukon below Circle to be very scenic or thrilling and wind is often a problem.

    You will probably be hooking up with Juneau SIL via Skagway. The area just North of Skagway is the headwater lakes of the Yukon River and is far more scenic with far better fishing for lake trout, grayling and pike. The area is rich with goldrush history and has very few residents or tourists. Put in at Atlin and canoe the lake and down the river [portage] to Tagish for another 80 miles of uninhabited country.

    Your timing is good as the bugs should be on the ebb.

    I suspect you have read Cal Rutstrum's books.

    Vern

  6. #6
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    Gramps,

    I can only speak to the Eagle to Circle stretch. My group did it two years ago. We took a bush plane out of Fairbanks and landed in Eagle. The bush plane is a bit expensive (weight dependent), but driving gear from Fairbanks is pretty much out of the question due to the distance. We rented our canoes from Eagle Canoe Rental (very reasonable). They were waiting for us at the airstrip and took us down to the river. We went during the summer solstice so we had unlimited daylight which allowed us to cover enough distance each day and still get in fishing and side hikes and climbs. There are multiple public use cabins along the stretch and good planning will land you in a few of these for some of the nights that you are on the river. They are free, and well maintained by the state. First come, first served however we saw no one for the entire week we were on the river. On nights that you tent camp, staing on the small islands are critical due to the mosquitos on the banks of the river. We had some on the islands, but nothing like the swarms that ate us up on the banks of the Yukon, especially the further you get away from the river. Bring head nets for everyone! Fishing the main river is a bust due to the silt in the river during this time, but fishing the mouth of the creeks and rivers running into the main river produced multiple grayling and pike. We saw bears, wolves, and moose along the way, but left each other alone and all was good! Store your food away from camp in bear proof container and hang it high. Bring extra water filters for your filtration system (silt). There are no rapids to speak of during this stretch, but the water is swift so actual paddleing is minimal. When you get to Circle, there is a small store. Also, a public laundry, bathroom, and shower. The toilet is free, but the laundry and shower are coin operated. The canoes are dropped off at a house near the take-out and the airstrip is a short walk from town. Hope you enjoy!! Let me know if you have any questions. Also, email me at trecheney@yahoo.com if you want a quicker response ( I don't get on the forum often).

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    A book recommendation ... LAND GONE LONESOME (2006) ... by long time Alaskan writer Dan O'Neil. The book covers his trips on the Dawson to Circle section of the Yukon, with much history and stories of the people that once populated that country. Engrossing book.

    Another ... COMING INTO THE COUNTRY (1976) ... by John McPhee ... the 3rd book w/i the book is the most interesting ... deals with the folks in Eagle, the bush hippies on the river, the miners and old-timers, Central and Circle. Beautifully written, an acclaimed book. IMHO, the best book ever written about Alaska.

    Both books cover the same river country, although from different eras, thirty years apart. I think the books are a pair for blending a vast portrait of that region.

  8. #8
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    Thanks to all for your great advice. We're still researching our options. Keep the replies coming. Thanks again!

  9. #9
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    Gramps,
    x1 on the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve advice. The website is www.nps.gov/yuch. On the bottom is a link to the public use cabins maintained by the NPS. All are free, first come, first served. Give the web site some time. I checked it this a.m. and we're in the middle of some revisions and it was a little balky. I don't know why electrons slow down, but apparently they do!

    Over multiple trips on and off the job, I've canoed from Carmacks to Circle trip. It's all very scenic, mostly flat (but fast & cold) water. Naturally, the river gets bigger as more tributaries come in. The cabins between Eagle & Circle are great for getting out of the weather... but if it's buggy, you might find camping at the head of an island (usually ice-scoured gravel) to have more of a breeze. The cabins are up and out of the path of the ice and spring high water, and sometimes the air is a bit still.

    If you go down as far as Coal Creek, make sure you stop at Slaven's Roadhouse and check out the dredge that's a half mile or so off the river (via trail/road). That road also leads up to an air strip and on into the hills. It's a nice hike and gets you into some higher country beyond the airstrip (up to a ridge that divides Coal Creek and Woodchopper drainages, if I remember correctly). A nice way to stretch your legs for a day after sitting in canoes.

    If you're farther upstream, there's a hike out of the buildings that are at the mouth of the 40 Mile (in Canada). We did some of that with a Boy Scout trip, and it was a nice leg-stretcher. Dawson is also a fun town, and if you start your trip in Canada by all means stop in Eagle to check out the historical buildings and re-stock on supplies. (You might have to do a Customs check there, too. Not sure of the current staffing/rules.)

    Our NPS office in Eagle is available at 907-547-2233. Pat Sanders & Lou Flynn have been there for many years, and know the river well if you have questions during your trip planning. Enjoy!

  10. #10
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    I did the trip from Circle to the Dalton Hwy in 2010. (We tried to start at Eagle but the road washed out). It was about 285 miles and the current gradually slows as it enters the maze-like Yukon Flats. Good maps and/or a GPS is needed to make sure you aren't adding unwanted miles and to find the tributaries. Some of the tributaries are hard to find but when you do, you'll be rewarded with easy fishing. We caught mainly pike. Camping is abundant on islands and the mosquitoes aren't bad on these islands, but then again I'm from Wisconsin so I'm used to them. This year we are doing the Eagle to Circle route, I think it's the more scenic route. I'm curious if we'll see people; on the Circle - Haul Road route we sometimes didn't see anyone all day and that was at a distance. The books mentioned are good. I also have "Paddling the Yukon River and its Tributaries" and "Two in a Red Canoe"

    Google satellite maps are also good for more recent data.

    Have fun!

    Jamie

  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Just FYI here, we have Dan Maclean's book, "Paddling the Yukon and its Tributaries" in our store.
    Also if you go to our MAIN RIVERS PAGE you'll see a chart at the bottom of the page listing several hundred river systems in Alaska (including the Yukon), together with the books, maps and DVD titles that discuss those river systems.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  12. #12
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    ", but driving gear from Fairbanks is pretty much out of the question due to the distance"

    i guess it depends on what you are used to. its a easy one day drive from fairbanks to eagle. i've done it many times, with and without a truck load of canoes.

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