Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve
Straddling the Yukon River in Interior Alaska, Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve includes more than 2.5 million acres along the Canadian border. The national preserve extends between the gold-rush communities of Eagle and Circle in protecting 128 miles of the 1,979-mile Yukon River and the entire length of the 108-mile Charley River. Best known for its rich gold rush history, when thousands of hopeful miners floated the Yukon, staked their claims and prayed for gold, old mining cabins and roadhouses still stand as crumbling remnants of the miners' optimism.
In addition to history, the preserve also boasts abundant wildlife, important archeological sites and the Charley River, a National Wild and Scenic River which has been called one of the most spectacular rivers in Alaska. The Charley is a cold, clear, intermediate free-flowing stream. Most of the river is rated as Class II water on the international scale of river difficulty, with limited areas rated as Class III (more difficult) and during periods of high water some upper sections of the Charley are Class IV rapids. In contrast, the Yukon is a broad, silt-laden river in summer due to glacial runoff that flows gently across a narrow floodplain flanked by high bluffs and heavily forested hills.
Rafting the Yukon or Charley rivers is one of the most popular activities in the preserve. Camping, hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and exploring historic sites are also popular options. The preserve is a prime breeding ground of the endangered peregrine falcon and calving ground of the Forty-mile Caribou Herd. Winter activities include dog mushing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race traverses the frozen landscape, bringing racers, veterinarians and race enthusiasts in the middle of the otherwise quiet winter.