Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: MANY OF THESE ANSWERS ARE INFLUENCED BY COVID RESTRICTIONS. WE HAVE CROSSED OUT THOSE WE KNOW ABOUT>
- How do I get to the Yukon, and how do I get around?
- How do I pay in Canadian funds if I’m not in Canada?
- Where can I rent a canoe or kayak or buy paddling and camping gear?
- How do I measure my canoe or kayak?
- How do I set up my SPOT device for the YRQ?
- Where can I get a river map and GPS coordinates?
- How fast is the Yukon River? Are there any rapids I should worry about?
- What about Lake Laberge, why do we need a spray skirt?
- What should I wear? How do I keep from getting hypothermic?
- What about mosquitoes and other possible Yukon wildlife encounters
- How dark does it get overnight? Do I need a light?
- What’s available at the Carmacks checkpoint? What is the cost? What about support? Are there hotels nearby?
- I don’t have a support crew. What are my options for getting back to Whitehorse? (includes new info on shuttle option)
- Can we have feeder boats or crews at Little Salmon or Minto?
- What is available at the Minto Resort checkpoint?
- Where can I camp or get a room in Dawson City?
- Proof of Health Insurance – What is this and how do I obtain it for the event?
- Where can I see the race?
Q: How do I get to the Yukon, and how do I get around?
A: The Yukon River Quest has worked with Air North on a low convention fare for flying North to our event. Here is a direct link to their reservation system with the Air North YRQ Promo Code. Air North flies daily from Vancouver, British Columbia, and several days a week from either Edmonton or Calgary, Alberta, and Ottawa. Contact the airline about international connections. There is also daily jet service to Whitehorse from Vancouver provided by Air Canada, Westjet, and during the summer direct from Frankfurt, Germany on Thomas Cook/Condor Airlines (weekly May 24-Sept. 13, 2022). See Yukon Travel Restrictions.
For links to hotels or campgrounds in Whitehorse, Carmacks and Dawson City (more info below) and other travel information and brochures, see www.yukoninfo.com.
Whoever you contact, let them know that you are with the YRQ. That might help. We have block booked some rooms at Triple J Hotel. Feel free to contact them. You can also look at Airbnb and there is a government campground on the other side of the river. Consider renting an RV in Whitehorse and using that as your accommodation if all else fails.
If you are driving here from somewhere on the continent, Whitehorse is located about 1 600 km (1,000 miles) up the Alaska Highway from lower U.S. and Canada to Alaska, that’s about 3 200 km (2,000 miles) from Vancouver. It is 175 km (110 miles) from Skagway, Alaska, the end of the Alaska Marine Highway, via the South Klondike Highway. Dawson City is another 532 km (330 miles) up the North Klondike Highway from Whitehorse.
Q: How do I pay in Canadian funds if I’m not in Canada?
A: By using your credit card (Visa or MasterCard) with PayPal, your payment will be processed in Canadian dollars and be automatically converted to your country’s currency.
Q: How do I measure my canoe or kayak?
Q: NEW: How do I set up my SPOT device for the Yukon River Quest?
Q: Where can I rent a canoe or kayak or buy paddling and camping gear?
A: The Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association currently has seven Clipper or Wenonah Jensen-design racing tandem canoes, five H2O C4 canoes, and two voyageurs for rent for the Yukon River Quest. See our RENTAL PAGE for more information and to check availability. Whitehorse outfitters Kanoe People , Up North Adventures and Yukon Wide Adventures should be contacted directly for information on renting solo and tandem kayaks for the race, as well as other recreational canoes and voyageur canoes, paddles, and personal flotation devices (PFDs). Camping gear may also be purchased from those outfitters or from Coast Mountain Sports and Canadian Tire in Whitehorse.
Q: Where can I get a river map and GPS coordinates?
A: The map that most racers and safety boats use is “The Yukon River: Marsh Lake to Dawson City” by Michael Rourke. Available at www.yukonbooks.com. You can also download the Waypoints for GPS (click once to download) exactly as they will be displayed on the Race Tracking page during the race.
Q: How fast is the Yukon River? Are there any rapids I should worry about?
A: The Yukon is Class 1 most of the way. Current varies from 5-6 km/h (3-4 mph) near Whitehorse and in the 30-mile section to 10-11 km/h (6-7 mph) after major tributaries like the Teslin, Big Salmon, Pelly and White rivers join up. There are two rapids about 4 hours downriver from Carmacks that require your spray skirts to stay on when you leave that checkpoint. The first, Five Finger Rapids, is normally Class 2, and can approach Class 3 when the river is high; at low flows it can be no more than a big riffle. It must be run by all racers in the FAR RIGHT CHANNEL, and takes just a few seconds. DO NOT TAKE THE MIDDLE OR LEFT CHANNELS – VERY DANGEROUS. After running the right rapid, be cautious, as the most unpredictable waves are usually where water from the three fingers meets beyond the rapid. A safety boat crew is stationed by the island about 1 km past the rapids and they may have a fire which can be seen by racers going through at night. The second set of rapids, Rink Rapids, is about a half hour downriver and can be easily avoided by staying river right.
Q: What about Lake Laberge, why do we need a spray skirt?
A: Lake Laberge is the most dangerous part of the journey, because strong wind and large waves can whip up in a matter of minutes. We require racers to have spray skirts securely attached until the end of this huge lake. You must stay on the right side, near the eastern shore. Because if you do dump, it’s a cold swim! The first Lake Laberge monitor point is located about five miles (eight Km.) down the lake in a position that pulls everyone over to the right side after you enter the lake. You must pass within a buoy marker. A second buoy marker and monitor point is located at Cathers about 8 miles (11 Km.) further down the lake. In addition, we have our largest concentration of safety boats on this portion of the race. This keeps you within a safe distance from shore (no more than 200 meters) and positioned properly to hit the outlet on the right of the lake at Lower Laberge. If you stray beyond the 200-meter line, you will be subject to a one-hour penalty from the Race Marshal.
It is rare that the lake will be dead calm for the entire 30 miles (50 Km.) of its length. Winds can come from either direction, but usually from the south, creating steady rollers that hit you at an angle. These can be a fun challenge to ride, but if you get too crossways, water will get in your boat if you don’t have a spray skirt or closed cockpit. Also be wary of getting too close to rocky points along the eastern shore if the water is choppy. If the waves get too rough, the race will be stopped by the race marshal until conditions improve.
Q: What should I wear? How do I keep from getting hypothermic?
A: Even though this race is run “Under the Midnight Sun” it gets cool enough at night and in the early morning hours until sunrise, or if it’s rainy and windy, for racers to catch hypothermia if they are not prepared. We now require two extra sets of clothing. Cotton is not recommended because it does not dry out. There are any number of wool, neoprene and synthetic materials that will wick water. Bring them, in layers! And if you get wet and chilled, stop and change. It is strongly recommended that you stop after crossing the lake at the Lower Laberge campsite and make a quick change before hitting the river. The 30 Mile section of the Yukon is the most beautiful stretch of the river, but you will be going through there at near-darkness during the coolest hours, and at your lowest ebb in the wee small hours. Be warm and comfortable so you will enjoy it. Bring warm fleece. Bring waterproofs in case or wind and rain. The temperature can drop to 5C, (40F) or lower overnight. Bring a fleece or woolly hat. And, if you are tired and must stop to rest, use your sleeping bag and shelter to crawl into before you get too cold. If you do experience hypothermia symptons in this section, alert a safety boat crew.
Q: What about mosquitoes, bears and other possible Yukon wildlife encounters?
A: On the river mozzies won’t bother you. You may encounter them at the checkpoints, and if you stop beside the river for any purpose you may encounter swarms. Be prepared. As part of your emergency kit prepare for mosquitoes to bother you. Bears are a different matter. You are traveling in bear and moose country.Hopefully you will see many – and none too close. Be wary of stopping near streams; if so, call out to give animals proper warning that a human presence is near. Most bears and moose will dart back into the woods at your site or sound. Do not paddle close to either on shore unless you foolishly desire an encounter. Bear spray is certainly an option to take with you. If you feel a need to stop and rest, or visit the woods for other needs, carry it with you. Familiarize yourself with the spray product before using it, but try not to use it unless you have to. It is not to be used like mosquito repellent – only at bears that want to get close to you.
Q: How dark does it get overnight? Do I need a light?
A: The first night, which you will probably spend on the 30 Mile section of the river or between the Teslin and Big Salmon river
confluences, is fairly dark. You will be able to see the banks of the river and obstructions in the water, but you won’t be able to see much colour. The sky will not be dark, but nor will it be daylight blue.It also could get foggy. We require you to turn on a light between midnight and about 04:00 so our safety boats and checkpoints can better see you. On the second or third night you will be sufficiently far north that it will be quite light.You will be able to see the river clearly in colour, and if you are lucky the sky will be pink and blue. We still require you to turn on a light during the early morning hours. See required gear list in rules.
Q: Where can we stay in Carmacks? Is there a cost?
A: There are two race checkpoints in Carmacks: Site A. (Voyageurs, C4, SUP teams) Coal Mine Campground on river right about 800m (a half-mile) upriver from the main part of Carmacks. The campground owners have set aside campsites for racers to sleep, support crews, and volunteers. This campground is secure and your boats and gear will be safe. We have volunteers watching boats and gear at all times. The racer camping fee is included with your entry, however there is a charge for support crews who stay at the campground. Showers, rest rooms, Internet access, a phone and a snack shack are on site. Your support crew can find the Coal Mine Campground just past the main part of town on the N. Klondike Hwy. about 800m (a half-mile) past the bridge and just before the Campbell Hwy. junction. And Site B. (All solo and tandem canoes and kayaks) Bridge site on river left just after the bridge. For drivers go into town and head down the road to the river and follow right to the camping area by the bridge.
See Carmacks Briefings Notes (2 sets, for each site) on the Support Crew and Racer Briefing pages for more info. Teams and support crews must remain in their bubble! If you do not want to stay in the campground and would prefer a room, there is the Carmacks Hotel (867-863-5221) in the main part of town, about 4 Km from the Coal Mine checkpoint, and 1K from the Bridge checkpoint. There also is the Mukluk Manor B&B, 867-863-5232. Carmacks also has a grocery store, restaurant, bar, and gas stations. Please respect our volunteers, who put in long hours keeping track of boats and racers, and do their best to report results as they get them from other checkpoints or safety boats.
Q: I don’t have a support crew driving ahead. How do I get back to Whitehorse?
As for getting back from Dawson, there are a few options: 1) The Klondike Experience Husky Bus has a 15-passenger van and will be departing Sunday at 4 p.m. (after the awards banquet). See http://www.klondikeexperience.com/huskybus/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 867-993-3821 to reserve and pre-pay. Ask for special YRQ discounted rate; If you want to stay in Dawson longer, they have a noon departure on Tuesday at noon. 2) you could purchase a ride from Kanoe People or Up North Adventures, especially if you rent from them; 3) you may be able to get a ride back with a fellow racer’s support crew; 4) post a notice on our Facebook page saying you need a ride; 5) there are flights back to Whitehorse via Air North.
Q: How much food do I need? Can we have feeder boats or crews at Little Salmon or Minto?
A: What you eat and what you can stomach in an event like this is up to you, but you can only be fed at Carmacks. In order to preserve the wilderness qualities of this race, and to be fair to all racers, the YRMPA concluded that support will only be allowed at the 7-hour Carmacks checkpoint. Plan to carry enough food and water to sustain you between Whitehorse and Carmacks, and between Carmacks and Dawson. If you are seen getting help at other points along the race with road access, you will be disqualified. No feeder boats of any kind are allowed. See Food for the Long Haul about what racers like to eat and what seems to work best. It’s your body though; know ahead what you can stomach.
Q: What is available at the Minto Resort checkpoint?
CP will be marked with a flashing light and a safety flag. SPOT devices with basic tracking should be turned off here and then back on.
Q: Where can I camp or get a room in Dawson City?
A: It is strongly advised that you make reservations in Dawson City well in advance. Sometimes it is hard to predict when you will arrive, but it is advisable that if you think you will arrive early in the morning on Saturday, then you should book a room for Friday and Saturday night. That way you will have somewhere to go right after you check in to warm up, clean up and rest. In terms of support, all we provide at the finish line is an outhouse and a gear tent (for those who sent gear with us). The Yukon government campground is across the river via a ferry that operates round the clock. There also is a hostel nearby. Information on hostels and hotels at Dawson City Information Also, Northern Athletic Experiences can help with these and other travel arrangements.
Q: I am not from the Yukon and see I need “Proof of Health Insurance.” What is this and how do I obtain it for the event?
A: Start by reading this important Insurance Notice for all Yukon River Quest Racers. Any racer outside Canada will be required to show a certificate from an insurance company at final registration the day before the race. It is advised that you purchase this before you leave for the Yukon. Ask your insurance broker or travel agent or get the insurance online from Marlin Travel in the Yukon. For those who wait until getting to Whitehorse, you can get it in person from Marlin Travel, located at 2101A Second Avenue (corner of Elliott Street and 2nd Ave). Phone 867-668-2867 or email email@example.com for details and pricing. This emergency medical coverage is also advised, but not required, for non-Yukon residents of Canada, to assure coverage beyond your province. On average, the cost is just over $4 per day for non-Yukon Canadians. For more information on this coverage, see this Travel Medical Insurance page.
Q: NEW: Where can I see the race?
If you have more questions, email us!