Today on the Summer Bucket List, we visit the Far North for an unforgettable float trip on the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River in east-central Alaska. For an Alaskan river, the Fortymile has an unusual number of access points, making it possible to float the river for one day or up to several weeks. The popular three-day float on the river’s South Fork carries you beneath towering bluffs, through churning rapids, and past turn-of-the-century trapper cabins and long abandoned mining settlements. Midway through the trip you’ll pass Franklin Bar, where the discovery of gold set off Interior Alaska’s first gold rush in 1886.
After your float trip, follow the twisty and picturesque Taylor Highway over American Summit to the historic town of Eagle on the banks of the Yukon River. There you can tour the grounds of Fort Egbert, established by the U.S. Army in 1899 to bring law and order to the booming mining district. Or follow the Top of the World Highway to vibrant Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory. On your way, you may want to try your hand at gold panning at the public panning area on Jack Wade Creek — maybe you’ll find some ‘color’ the old-timers missed!
The partly paved Taylor Highway provides convenient river access, although floating the Middle Fork requires a short flight in a bush plane. By following the lower river into Canada and its confluence with the Yukon River, you can float all the way to Eagle, enjoying history and scenery that seem ripped from the pages of a Jack London novel.
For more information, please visit: http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/prog/nlcs/fortymile_nwsr.html
Photos by Craig McCaa, BLM Alaska