10 mighty ways to put in and play in the Yukon wilderness

Long on history, the mighty Yukon River runs 3000km from its source south of Whitehorse to the Bering Sea. Add 70 more wilderness rivers, dramatic wildlife, countless unspoiled lakes, and the Yukon is a paddler’s dream.

Visitors travel across continents to drift into world glaciers and northern lights, caribou and carved canyons.


1.  Race to the midnight sun – Yukon River Quest

Brave souls paddle day and night in wave-pounded voyageur canoes and kayaks, journeying 715 km from Whitehorse to Dawson City. The Yukon River Quest is the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race. The summer light doesn’t quit, and neither do racers, feeding on power bars, cheering spectators, and a wide-open spirit of adventure.

2. Paddle into the icefields at Kluane National Park

Glacial-covered Kluane National Park is a bucket-list stop, home to the largest non-polar icefield on the planet. See Mount Logan, Canada’s second highest peak. Listen for the thunderous crack of glacier ice calving into waters on a Tatshenshini River rafting expedition. Outfitters can guide you to the park’s isolated lakes.

3. Run with the Wind – paddle Wind River’s raw wilderness

Wrap yourself in steep winding canyons, cliffs, wetlands, and rolling hills flanking a river in constant motion. Load up the floatplane for your Wind River trip to the Wernecke Mountains. Alongside soaring peregrine falcons, you might even catch caribou wading into the waters.

4. Say goodbye to civilization and hello to the Snake 

Board a float plane into lush alpine valley for an epic journey through the  Mackenzie Mountains on moody Snake River. Think rapids, bears, wolves, carved canyons, and camping before golden sunsets.

5. Day tripping on the Yukon River in a voyageur canoe

Short on time? Climb into a 28-foot voyageur canoe for stunning cliff and valley views followed by a tasty smoked salmon and pan-roasted Yukon potato cookout.

6. Paddle the poetic lake – Lake Laberge to Dawson City

If you don’t know Robert Service’s poem,“the Cremation of Sam McGee” about an unlucky prospector, you will after paddling Lake Laberge. Fortune-kissed paddlers cover 700 km and 30,000 years of human history.

7. Going for Gold– Yukon River Goldrush expeditions

Think of your canoe as a time machine. Plenty of Klondike Gold Rush history tours pass abandoned settlements and stop at Fort Selkirk, a former Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, now a cherished Yukon Historic Site.

8. Paddle the Porcupine to catch the caribou

September brings shimmering curtains of aurora borealis (northern lights) and a chance to witness the great caribou migration (a ranging herd of 120,000) on a spectacular arctic whitewater trip along the Porcupine River.

9.  Be your own hero – self-guided Yukon paddling trips

So you’ve got mad paddling skills and are eager to take on the Yukon or Big Salmon Rivers? Up North Adventures and other outfitters can help with trip planning, transportation and rental equipment.

10. Visit Yukon’s Last Frontier on the Bonnet Plume River

Set off into the roaring heart of the Peel watershed. Advanced paddlers on this challenging whitewater canoe trip navigate Bonnet Plume River rapids that carve through mountain peaks and valleys. Look out for Dall’s sheep, Grizzly bear, moose and caribou.


Travel Yukon


Dawson City