The Wind River is known for its remarkably clear, aquamarine water. A more relaxed route than other rivers in the Peel Watershed, this trip explores two distinct sub arctic topographies. The Wind River section winds through an alpine valley with meadows along the riverbank and the mountains beyond. The river flows over cobblestone shoals and sand bars. The paddling is fun and the scenery exceptional. The pace is easygoing. There is time to explore the area in a series of side hikes with straight forward access to the mountains.
At the end of the Wind River we enter Peel River valley. We’ll paddle a wide open valley to the mouth of the Bonnet Plume River. Just below is the extraordinary Peel Canyon. Sheer walls, big waves, lots of current and exceptional birding make this a highlight. The final run to our take out is past shale cliffs, gravel escarpments and big islands. Great campsites and a steady current make for a very pleasant finish to the expedition.
The Wind River trip is a good choice for those with basic whitewater skills, some canoe camping experience and reasonable fitness for your age. This could be a good choice for your first northern canoe expedition. A novice paired with a more experienced paddler could do this trip. Experienced whitewater paddlers will still find the Wind a great wilderness holiday in a beautiful alpine setting.
- One of the best canoe trip in Yukon
- Discover the real Jack London Territory
- Visit Whitehorse, the capital of Canada’s Yukon territory
- The Wind River is known for its remarkably clear, aquamarine water
Welcome in Whitehorse, the capital of Canada's Yukon Territory ! Meet with the Guides for the tour.
Rendezvous at 5PM at the Edgewater Hotel. The guides show us the route of our expedition and give us our first briefing on the Wind, water levels and upcoming weather.
From Mayo, we get in a beautiful Bi-motor plane to the Top of the Wind River, the McCluskey Lake.
Wind River trip travels approximately 280 km from our starting point at McCluskey Lake to our take-out at the confluence of the Snake and Peel Rivers. First night under the tents.
This morning, we stay around the McCluskey Lake. The guide give us a Skills Clinic for the canoe and how to paddling strokes, maneuvers and safety procedures - We can hike the surrounding of the beautiful mountains.
All set ! We can run the River. It begins by a short portage on path to creek which feeds into Wind River.
We have to paddle a lot. Fortunately the currents push the canoe. Scout & line down creek - continue past creek confluence.
We set up the camp on the edge of the Wind River.
Down the river, all days long ! What a amazing experience.
Incredible scenery, hiking and class I - II whitewater - expect at least 3 days hiking throughout the trip
Navigate easy rock gardens, corners, gravel bars and swifts in the upper section
The current continues with more whitewater challenges caused by gravel bars, meanders and cliff walls
At the end of the Wind River, the Peel River welcome us. Bigger than the Wind River, we paddle easily down the Peel River; there are canyons and good current, with some additional hiking potential.
The trip continue when we pass the confluence of the Peel and Bonnet Plume Rivers. We navigate the geographically stunning Peel Canyon. We delight our last camping night just past the confluence of Peel and Snake Rivers.
In the morning, we get a charter flight to Mayo and a van transfer to Whitehorse. The arrival is scheduled for the evening.
Overnight in Whitehorse at the Edgewater Hotel, final dinner (own expense)
Flights home next morning. End of the tour.
Dates & pricesPrivatize this trip write to us
- Charter float plane flight from Mayo to start of the trip at McCluskey Lake - Same for return
- Transfer between Whitehorse and Mayo on Day 1 and Day 14.
- Excellent trail meals and snacks from Day 1 lunch to Day 14 lunch
- Custom expedition canoes with spray decks and knee pads
- Best guides ever !
- Personal clothing and gear - a recommended clothing & equipment list will be provided
- Travel between your home and Whitehorse
- Any hotel accommodation and restaurant meals including Day 0 at the Edgewater Hotel
- Taxes (GST - 5%)
Wind River trip travels approximately 280 km from our starting point at McCluskey Lake to our take-out at the confluence of the Snake and Peel Rivers. McCluskey Lake is a very scenic spot, ringed by awesome mountain peaks and high ridges. After setting up camp, we will practice our paddling strokes to get ready for the whitewater to come. As well, we will take a day to hike up one of the unnamed peaks surrounding the lake, looking for caribou, sheep or raptors, and allowing us a great overview of the Wind valley. A short portage leads from McCluskey Lake to a small creek feeding
the Wind. We’ll portage to this creek, then line and wade our canoes until we reach the confluence. The crystal clear water of the Wind has an
aquamarine blush. After the initial swift current, the river meanders through a valley with broad meadows on each flank. The current is slow at times, speeding up when it braids and flows over shallow gravel bars and rock bands. There are wonderful day and shorter hikes through the meadows to knolls overlooking the river. The river is braided in places, resulting in converging currents, standing waves and occasional rocks to dodge. The northern limit of the mountain chain is spectacular with some great hiking potential. Some of the side valleys are wooded, others are free of vegetation. Pockets of mountains within the plateau provide good hiking potential, particularly in the Illtyd Range. The Wind enters the Peel and the geography begins to change. We will continue 87 km downstream along the Peel, where we will encounter fairly fast flowing current, braided channels, the confluence with the Bonnet Plume River, and Peel Canyon. Here, high shale walls constrict the rive, creating our final set of rapids.
The Wind River is a pristine wilderness river which finds its headwaters high in north Yukon in the Wernecke Mountains west of the NWT/Yukon border. It flows approximately 190 km in a northerly direction, emptying into the Peel River about 275 km upstream of Ft. McPherson. The Wind is
distinguished by its easy to intermediate whitewater, crystal clear waters, its outstanding scenery, excellent hiking and wildlife viewing. The river flows through two distinct physiographic regions: the Mackenzie Mountains and the Peel Valley. The Mackenzie Mountains are a northern extension of the Rocky Mountains. They form the drainage divide between the Yukon and Mackenzie watersheds. The Wernecke range reaches heights of 2,000
metres and are rugged, dominating the background with rock colours of buff, grey, cinnamon, green and maroon. The river cuts its way through the sandstone and shale. The numerous rapids are easily runnable in a canoe. A combination of Arctic and Alpine wildflowers grow in profusion. The upper section of the river is the home to many types of big game, including caribou, moose, Dall’s sheep, wolves, wolverine and grizzly bears. Eagles, hawks and a variety of song and shore birds can be spotted by the keen birder.
Over 25,000 years ago, after the recession of the Pleistocene Glaciation, there was a land bridge connecting Siberia with Alaska. At this time, species were able to migrate from Asia. These included wooly Mammoth, giant beaver, scimitar cats, sheep and muskox. Humans likely arrived prior to 14,000 years ago, having gradually moved through Asia from Africa. As these early inhabitants moved northward, they learned how to adapt to conditions in the far north. With tools made from stone, bone, sinew, wood and fibre they tailored skin clothing and made homes. They learned how to travel over a rugged terrain of snow, ice and mountains. The descendants are the Gwitch’in Dene, who live in small communities in the Wind area, such as Mayo and Ft. McPherson. In the winter of 1898-99, at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush, a small band of stampeders were forced to
spend the winter at a rough camp, which they named Wind City. Following a gruelling winter, these 50 – 80 souls continued upstream on the Wind, over the pass to the Stewart River, then downstream to Dawson City. In December of 1910, Inspector Francis J. Fitzgerald of the North-West Mounted Police and his fabled ‘lost patrol’ began their journey by dogsled from Herschel Island on the Arctic Ocean, to Dawson City. Omitting to hire a local guide for the trip from Ft. McPherson to Dawson proved to be a mistake. In the darkness of January, they got lost in the Wind River valley, failing to
find the pass to the Stewart River. Belatedly, they turned back, tying to retrace their steps to Ft. McPherson. Weather and trail conditions transpired against them and they finally perished just 112 km short of Ft. McPherson.
The climate in the area is considered ‘Subarctic’ or ‘Boreal’ a subset of ’Cold Continental’ but the local weather is influenced by the mountains. Spring break up on the river occurs in late May or early June, but snow can be seen on the mountains well into July. During the summer months, temperatures range from the mid 20 C’s, and can go as high as the mid 30C’s! However, snow storms have been reported in every month of the year. The weather is unpredictable. Moisture filled air masses from the Pacific collide with the mountain tops resulting in frequent, heavy rainstorms. Sudden drops in temperature occur each time the sun dips behind a cloud. Fantastic rainbows are frequent as the mountain showers pass through. You need to be prepared for sun, wind, rain, hail and snow!
CAN I DO THIS TRIP ?
This Trip is rated Skill Level 1+ Some previous experience is expected. This trip is suitable for the paddler with some basic whitewater skills and some previous canoe camping experience. The Wind River is an excellent choice for your first northern river expedition. More experienced paddlers will still enjoy the route for the fun paddling, scenery and hiking. There will be lots of current, easy Class I and some Class II rapids.
You should be comfortable in a canoe in moving water and have some understanding of whitewater canoe strokes, maneuvers and safety procedures.
You should be able to ‘read’ the river from the canoe and be able to follow the guide’s canoe through easy rapids. A novice with very little
whitewater experience could canoe the river if paired with an experienced paddler. A whitewater clinic or trip as a pre-trip warm up is a good idea.
You should be of at least average fitness for your age so you can enjoy the paddling and the many side hikes. Feel free to call our office to discuss your
suitability for this trip.
Our guides are exceptionally qualified. Each principal guide has an extensive outdoor background, formal training and leadership experience. On this
expedition there will be an assistant guide. The guides are always ready to provide coaching and helpful advice on any aspect of the trip and will attempt to maximize the spirit of adventure for each individual. Your safety is their prime concern and your guide will make decisions with
this in mind. We must stress that listening carefully to instructions given by the guide is your responsibility and in the best interest of you and the group. Each group member is encouraged to contribute to the tasks of the trip and your guides will act as helpful resource people. Lastly, as this is your holiday, the guides have a real sense of fun and excitement, and will help to make this your trip of a lifetime!