Season: Through the late spring and summer. Flows may drop during periods
of clear weather but expect the water to come up quickly with rain.
The Fortymile river, a nationally-designated Wild and Scenic River, is one of
AlaskaÂs great river trips. The river's name comes from the fact that the mouth lies 40 miles
down the Yukon River from Fort Reliance, a Hudson Bay trading post. The river has a rich mining history
and the historical legacy of prospecting activity dating back to the late 1800's still remains. This region
is also known as the backdrop for Jack London novels.
While much of the run is class II, there are a couple class III sections that demand your
attention. Once the spring melt is over, this is a rain-dominated system and river runners should be
aware that flows can come up quickly.
The first significant class III rapid is Deadman's Rime which is encountered about 15
miles below the Fortymile Bridge. It can be portaged on the right if necessary. Soon after this rapid you
cross the border into Canada.
Canyon Rapids is in Canada, below the mouth of Bruin Creek. You can scout the rapid on
the left although you may find it difficult to line or portage due to the steep canyon walls. This will be
the most challenging rapid of the trip and can create problems at higher flows. At lower water levels
this rapid is class II/III and you have space to line or portage on the right.
Below this rapid the river opens up and the pace of the current slows. Vehicle acess is
available to Clinton Creek which is just upstream of the confluence with the Yukon. A short road leads
down to the river off the Top of the World Highway on the Canadian side of the border.
After Clinton Creek it's only a couple miles to the Yukon River where you continue
downstream on this historic river to Eagle.
If you're looking for a longer trip, you can start further upstream by running the Middle Fork/North Fork which
requires a bush plane flight to the put-in or the South Fork which offers a couple access points off the Taylor Highway.
If you're coming from Anchorage, head northeast on the Glen Highway (Hwy 1) to
Glennallen, and continue on to Tok. In Tok head east on the Alaska Highway (Hwy 2) and in a short
distance, you'll cross the Tanana River, and then turn north on the Taylor Highway (Hwy 5) at Tetlin
Junction. Continue on this road north to milepost 112 at the Fortymile River Bridge which is the put-in.
There is a steep access road down to the river (don't get stuck) on the east side of the highway. You can
leave vehicles in the parking area on the west side.
Alternatively, if you're coming in from the Yukon, drive north out of Whitehorse,
following the Klondike Highway to Stewart Crossing where you join the Top of the World Highway that
takes you west to Dawson. Cross the Yukon in Dawson and continue west across the US/Canadian
border where you join the Taylor Highway a few miles south of the put-in. From either destination plan
for a long day of driving.
To reach the take-out continue 50 miles north to Eagle. There are a couple boat
landings in town. Use the one downstream of the private landing for the Yukon Queen. Be sure to
check-in with US Customs.
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