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The Interior: Fairbanks & the Yukon Valley


Location/Climate: On Yukon River at end of Steese Highway (AK 6). 13"/yr. precip., 44"/yr. snowfall, -71°F–72°F.

Population: 94 (86.3 percent native).

Travel Attractions: Yukon River, Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park, interesting town.

Getting There: Vehicle access via Steese Highway; charter air service.

Information: Inquire at local businesses, www.ilovealaska.com/ alaska/Circle/.

L. N. McQuestern opened a trading post here in 1887 to serve miners working claims along Birch Creek. His goods arrived via barge and riverboat after an 1,800-mile float up the Yukon. The founders mistakenly believed the town was on or very near the Arctic Circle and named it accordingly. You can walk upriver a bit to see the century-old graves at the little Pioneer Cemetery (ask for directions). Today this largely native community depends on subsistence, tourism, and limited government, construction, and retail work.

The best options for travelers involve float or powerboat trips on the Yukon River and access to remote villages. Circle is an ideal take-out point for a flight-free float trip beginning in Eagle. Along this stretch, the Yukon keeps to its banks, flowing through the hilly country of Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Downstream trips are possible as well, following the river as it meanders and braids through the sprawling Yukon Flats, past Fort Yukon, Beaver, and the Dalton Highway. Guides, outfitters, and water taxis offer various options (see the Appendix).

Stop in at the trading post for a slow coffee and some talk. Camping is permitted on the riverside lot at road’s end.

Where to Stay and Eat in Circle

Riverview Motel, 773-8439, on the banks of the Yukon, three rooms and one apartment, $60 and up. Associated with Circle City Charters, which offers custom services up and down the Yukon River.

Yukon Trading Post, Mile 162 Steese Highway, 773-1217. Cafe, bar, store, gas, conversation. RH