Yukon River – Laberge to Dawson City

Sept 1st to 16th 2022 – 1 spot left

Both historical and wild, the 13 day Yukon River paddle is a classic Yukon adventure. Float through the boreal landscapes and witness remnants of the Klondike Gold Rush along the shores.

Itinerary

You will be met at the Whitehorse airport and shuttled to your accommodation. You will have time to explore some of Whitehorse’s historic sites.

Note that if you’re flight is schedule to arrive after 9:30pm we won’t be able to pick you up but you’ll be able to enjoy a free shuttle from the hotel.

Check our FAQ to know what date day 0 corresponds to.

Night in a hotel in Whitehorse

Shortly after breakfast we take the hour drive to Lake Laberge, immortalized in the poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee” to begin our paddling adventure. This 50 km by 5 km lake is renowned for cold water and dangerous winds. For this reason, we will cross the lake to the north end by motor boat. There, we load the canoes with all our gear and take our first strokes on the Yukon river. Immediately we travel back in time, as we explore a few sites with remnants and artefacts from the time of the of the gold rush. We take the afternoon to go through safety briefings etc. You will also get a chance to go on the water and practice your strokes if you desire. In the evening, we enjoy our first meal around the fire!

Lunch and dinner

Night in a tent

This morning we begin our 12 day adventure paddling 600 km down stream to Dawson City along this historical river. After the discovery of placer gold on Bonanza creek by three prospectors in 1896, thousands of men and women travelled the Yukon River to try their luck “striking it rich” in the Dawson area. For the first few days, we paddle the wildest section of the river where we have the best odds of observing northern wildlife. There are numerous historical site along this stretch: abandoned woodyards and telegraph stations, remains of old steamboats, etc.
Each evening, we set up camp on one of the numerous camping spots along the shore of the river, and cook gourmet foods on the camp fire!
In September, in this remote land, far away from light pollution, we will have the opportunity to watch stars in the clear night skies and maybe even a show of northern lights!

Shortly after passing by Carmacks, we encounter the only rapids on the Yukon river between Whitehorse and Dawson, Five Finger Rapids. During the gold rush, these rapids were a major obstacle for the prospectors’ wooden rafts, but at the beginning of 20th century, a channel was blasted to allow passage for larger steamboats. Today, Five Finger Rapids are a rather small challenge on our way.

Further down stream, we visit of the most famous historical sites along the Yukon River: Fort Selkirk, a Hudson Bay Company trading post dating back to 1852.

Next the White River, a major tributary flowing from the southwest and heavily laden with glacial silts, joins the Yukon River. From this point on, the clarity of the Yukon River is dramatically changed and its flow quickens. Ten kilometers further downstream, the Stewart River flow in from the northeast. From here, we paddle straight north on the last stretch to our destination Dawson City.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Night in a tent

Finally, after 11 days on the river, we have arrived in Dawson City in the beginning of the afternoon. You will have the afternoon to discover the small city ! Tonight, we will check out Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, the oldest casino in Canada! Complete with cancan girls, you will have the chance to relive the heady days of the Gold Rush.

Breakfast and lunch

Night in a hotel

Today we drive along the Klondike Highway to Whitehorse where we should arrived in the evening. Your last night in Whitehorse will be free.

Lunch

Night in a hotel

Connection to the airport or to your next adventure.

  • Ground transportation for Whitehorse/Lake Laberge and Dawson/Whitehorse
  • Motor boat transportation to the start of the river
  • Airport transfers
  • Meals as indicated in itinerary above
  • Accommodations as indicated in itinerary above, based on double occupancy (+ $400 for single occupancy)
  • The following equipment: tent, canoe, paddles, life jacket, dry bag, bear spray, fishing gear
  • Bilingual guide French/English
  • Satellite phone for emergencies
  • Single occupancy supplement of $400
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for the activities in Dawson City
  • Gratuities
  • Fishing license
  • Domestic & International flights

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Tour Reviews

“…”but we didn’t see a moose”, was Max’s lament. He seemed disappointed but he shouldn’t be for we did see wildlife. Oh yes, we certainly did see wildlife. We saw 23 bears from our canoes (many more than we would normally expect to see) most of whom were far up on the mountainside fattening up on berries before their long winter’s nap. And also from our canoes just 20 or so metres away we saw a momma black bear with her two cubs feeding at the river’s edge. And we saw a grizzly feeding at the side of the road, aware of us but totally disinterested. We saw literally tens of thousands of migrating Sandhill cranes on their annual trek south, sometimes flying so high we could hardly see them (we could hear their distinctive and cacophonous honking long before we could see them). We saw so many bald eagles it almost became old hat (for whatever reason, the eagles were seen frequently associating with at least two ravens). We saw fat porcupines waddling up the beach and we saw, believe it or not, a squirrel swimming across the Yukon River. But we didn’t see a moose. We experienced raw nature at its finest. It took a few days to slough off the city and to begin to feel the awesomeness, the immenseness of the Yukon and when we did, the feeling of oneness with our surroundings was fabulous. Up at 6:30 in the morning and in the canoes by 9, we worked hard paddling 50 km., typically, every day (70 km. on at least one day) to accomplish the 600+ km. to Dawson City and we worked hard setting up the camp, pitching our tents and cutting firewood for the campfires. Then breaking camp again the next morning. We slept well at night. Max did the cooking. And what Max can do with only an open campfire is nothing short of phenomenal. He created numerous French gourmet meals such as Coq au Vin. My birthday happened to occur on our first day on the water and Max (remember only on a campfire) created a cheesecake and presented it complete with birthday candles. We had sandwiches made from bannock cooked over the campfire and one morning we even had cinnamon buns for breakfast, prepared right before our very eyes. Max and his partner, Milena, are obviously totally committed to the environment, to the Canadian Far North Country and to providing an authentic wilderness experience for their clients. They are hardworking, very well organized and they plan diligently to see that the total experience is genuine. Should you take your trip in early September as we did, I would recommend warm clothing. But would I recommend a tour with Terre Boréale? Absolutely. “

Fred B., January 2018

“Three guys looking for an adventure:

We are retired, aged from 65 to 80 years old wanting to do something outside our comfort level. Something that we would consider an adventure, something we would remember and something that would be doable. Here is what we came up with:

A Whitehorse Company in the Yukon, Northern Canada, Terre Boreale, offers an all inclusive 15 day adventure comprised of a 450 mile canoe trip down the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City. I had never been to the Yukon nor like my two friends, had any previous experience in a canoe. We signed up for the September 2017 trip, last one of the season.

We arrived in Whitehorse the first of September where Terre Boreale put us up in a downtown hotel and told us to be ready to go tomorrow early.

The company, owned and operated by Max and his wife Milena, did all the prep, meal menus, acted as guide and generally seem to know everything one needs to know about the area and the river. The number of people on each canoe trip is limited, our group was two canoes for the four of us which included our guide Max, so this really was a personal adventure.

We left the hotel in a van arriving at the river entrance around noon. After lunch we loaded the canoes and started off. The first and second day were in essence demonstration days where our guide, Max, was able to assess our virtually non existent canoeing skills. On the third day he explained we were going to need an adjustment to complete the trip in comfort and within the time frame allotted. To do this, he lashed the canoes together with small logs he harvested, set up a mast and fashioned a sail using a camping tarp. The four of us completed the trip paddling the raft in this configuration. This allowed us to spend time paddling, enjoying the scenery, taking pictures, watching for bears and other wildlife while maintaining an adequate pace of travel.

The trip was wonderful, the vastness of the country, admittedly a small part of the Yukon, was a eye opener and the variety of wildlife, especially the bird population, along with some of its history made it really interesting. We had some 24 bear sightings both black bear and grizzly. Each of us carried bear spray with us and soon got used to being asked each time we left the campsite “have you got your spray”. For the most part this was wilderness camping on the bank of the the Yukon river and we only actually shared our camp with others, twice over 13 odd days. For city people, living in a tent for this length of time was an experience we were not used to but for the most part enjoyed. Food was a very pleasant surprise, Max our guide, prepared all the meals over an open fire and the variety and quality was hard to believe. Fred, on the third day out, celebrated his 80th birthday and Max prepared a birthday cheese cake, again over an open fire. The weather was a mix of cool days, sunny days, some rain but over all very doable.

It is fair to say that we had an adventure that we will remember for a long time and definitely accomplished our objectives for the trip,

A special thanks to our guide and owners of Terre Boreale, Max and his wife Milena, for a great time, good food and for keeping us safe. I have no difficulty recommending this canoe adventure to both the experienced and non experienced paddler as the company is ready, willing and able to make the adventure fun and most importantly doable.

Jim Mansley
75 years old, still moving and keeping them fooled!”

Jim M.