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The Interior: Fairbanks & the Yukon Valley

Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve

Location/Size: 2.5 million acres (88 percent federal) straddling and to the south of the Yukon River between Eagle and Circle.

Main Activities: Rafting, kayaking, canoeing.

Gateway Towns/Getting There: Eagle and Circle/vehicle access to Eagle via the Taylor Highway (AK 10), to Circle via the Steese Highway (AK 6); charter air service; by boat via the Yukon River. Preserve access: direct float access from Eagle, air drop-off at several sites from Eagle, Tok, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Central, and Circle.

Facilities, Camping, Lodging: No facilities. Two public-use cabins on the Yukon at Coal Creek and at Nation River. Primitive camping only.

Headquarters and Information: Headquarters, P.O. Box 74718, Fairbanks, AK 99707, 456-0593; Field Office, P.O. Box 64, Eagle, AK 99738, 547-2234; www.nps.gov/yuch

About 115 miles of the 1,800-mile Yukon River is protected in this large preserve, as is the entire watershed of the Charley River, which flows into the Yukon from the south. All of the navigable portion of the 108-mile Charley River is designated as a National Wild River, as are four of its feeders: Flat Creek, Bonanza Creek, Copper Creek, and Crescent Creek—a total of 208 wild miles. While the Yukon is wide and clouded with glacial silt, the waters of the Charley are renowned for their clarity. Mining sites and artifacts are found in several places, as are peregrine falcon aeries. The preserve is contiguous with a unit of the Steese National Conservation Area to the west.

River running is the activity of choice in the preserve. With Eagle near the eastern edge of the preserve and Circle near the west, a relatively cheap, 158-mile, Class I trip down the Yukon is a manageable option. There are a few public-use cabins on the five-day route and many options for primitive camping. The Yukon is served by outfitters in Eagle who also offer shorter trips with air or powerboat links (see the Appendix).

All routes in the Charley watershed require an air drop-off. Eagle is the closest source of shuttles. Tok and Delta Junction are within reason, but Fairbanks is much further. It is possible to drive to Central or Circle, fly to the drop-off, then float the nine-day route back to Circle (six days for the Charley, three for the Yukon). The river features Class I–Class III waters with occasional Class IV in the uplands during high-water periods. Consult the preserve rangers or outfitters for options.