You're on your own. This is the number one message preserve visitors must know and apply to their visit to Yukon-Charley Rivers. There is no cell phone service and there are no amenities or services in the preserve. When you depart Fairbanks, Tok, Eagle, or Circle, you may not see another person until your return to civilization or your pilot comes to pick you up. Visitors must be self-reliant and able to execute self-extraction and communication, should an emergency situation arise.
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve contains 115 miles of the historic Yukon River and the entire 88-mile Charley River basin. Old cabins and relics recall the Yukon's importance in the gold rush era. Archeological and paleontological sites in the preserve provide knowledge of both the past thousands and millions of years.
The two rivers are quite different: the broad and swift Yukon flows with glacial silt, while the smaller Charley flows crystal clear and is considered one of Alaska's finest recreational streams. They merge between the early-day boom towns of Eagle and Circle, where cliffs and bluffs along the two rivers provide nesting habitat for peregrine falcons. Beyond the riverbanks, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, and moose may be seen. Floating the Yukon - by raft, canoe, or powerboat - is a popular way to experience the grandeur of the river, rich with history. The Charley River demands more advanced skills, but rewards with a wilderness experience.
Read our Backcountry Trip Planning Guide in preparation for your trip. As the majority of our visitors travel by river, whether it be floating the whitewater of the Charley in an inflatable raft or canoeing or motorboating on the Yukon, we have developed a River Trip Planning Guide for Alaska, to help you be better prepared for your adventure. If your trip involves hiking or crossing waterways, from small creeks to major rivers, read our Backcountry River Crossing to learn safe techniques to get you to the other side and back again.
Write and leave a detailed trip plan with friends & family and describe to them what you are doing, where you are going, and what to do if you do not return by a certain date. Make sure they understand the inherent unpredictability of remote Alaskan transportation in regards to weather. Leave a trip plan at home, bring one with you, and leave another with your pilot, if you are flying.
If you are relying on air travel for your visit, be aware that air taxis are often times unable to fly in inclement weather. Bring a few extra days of food and allow for 'weather days' in your trip plan to accommodate poor weather. Learn more about transportation to public lands in Alaska and chartering aircraft.
Many visitors to Yukon-Charley Rivers arrive and travel by motorboat during the fall hunting season. Read our Hunting Resources and Boating Safety pages to learn more about planning a successful and enjoyable trip to the preserve.
Unlike many other satellite communication tools which operate on satellites that do not provide reliable service as far north as Yukon-Charley Rivers, satellite phones are an excellent method of two-way communication in Alaska's backcountry, as they function on satellites that orbit the earth north to south and vice versa, providing excellent coverage in Alaska's wilderness areas. Consider renting a satellite phone in Fairbanks before your trip to the preserve.
Follow the wilderness ethic of others and leave this wild land as you found it, or better, for future generations. Learn how to do this by reading about Leave No Trace in Alaska's Backcountry (570kb PDF). Visitors in the park must practice minimum impact camping techniques by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, follow backcountry safety guidelines, and be aware of the fragile ecosystems and private lands within the preserve.
Watch a short video on staying safe in bear country to learn safe and responsible practices for recreating on Alaska's wild lands. Learn more about bear safety through the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers' bear safety page.
Bear-resistant food containers (BRFCs) are not required but strongly encouraged for your overnight visit to Yukon-Charley Rivers. BRFCs are provided free of charge at the Eagle Visitor Center, and the Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center. No reservations can be taken as they are provided first come, first serve. Yukon-Charley Rivers provides both steel drum BRFCs with locking lids and smaller backpacker BRFCs. Be aware these backpacker barrels are loaned for hiking, packrafting, and kayaking only, where the large steel BRFCs are impossible to use. Canoeists are required to use the steel BRFCs, provided free of charge in Eagle.
For those not using the recommended BRFCs, we strongly encourage caching all food and scented items a minimum of 100 feet from camp and suspending at least 10 feet above ground. However, due to the nature of the trees in this area of Alaska, this is often exceptionally challenging or not possible, as the area is dominated by short spruce trees with limbs not strong enough to support weight. A few areas around waterways provide taller and stronger poplar trees where this may be possible.
Please dispose of inedible game parts, fish and food scraps that could attract bears at least 300 yards from camp and below high water level. Do not leave food or scraps, as this may attract bears and present a hazard for the next traveler.
For more links on safety and planning your trip to Yukon-Charley Rivers, visit the Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Infomation Center's website.
Last updated: April 19, 2021