Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River

Quick Facts

Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River

Alaska

(800) 437-7021

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

River float trips, camping, and sightseeing from the Taylor Highway are the primary attractions for visitors to the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River. For an Alaska river, the Fortymile has an unusual number of access points, making it possible to enjoy float trips that range from one day to several weeks in length.

Gold Rush prospectors gave the Fortymile River its name because it joins the Yukon River about 40 miles below Fort Reliance, an old Canadian trading post. In 1980, 392 miles of the river in east-central Alaska were designated as a Wild and Scenic River by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The BLM manages the wild and scenic river corridor as well as three campgrounds and Fort Egbert in the Eagle Historic District National Historic Landmark. Today's visitors can find relaxation, adventure or a touch of the past in the Fortymile region, which provided Interior Alaska's first gold rush in 1886. Float trips on the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River offer scenic beauty, solitude and glimpses of gold-mining dredges, turn-of-the-century trapper cabins and abandoned townsites. Threading through this rugged landscape, the twisty and picturesque Taylor Highway leads motorists into the heart of the Fortymile and over American Summit to the historic town of Eagle on the Yukon River. The Top of the World Highway forks off the Taylor Highway, allowing access to Dawson City in Canada's Yukon Territory.

Map of Fortymile Nat'l Wild & Scenic River

Latitude, Longitude: 63.312222, -142.601667

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Activities

  • Boating

    The Taylor Highway provides road access to the Fortymile River at four places in Alaska. Another access point is available via a dirt road from the Top of the World Highway in Yukon Territory, Canada. The end of the Taylor Highway in the village of Eagle provides additional road access for those who float to the mouth of the Fortymile River and then down the Yukon River.

    The Fortymile River is cold! Wear a life jacket. A wetsuit is recommended for kayakers and canoeists planning to run the bigger rapids. Know how to recognize, prevent and treat hypothermia. The water level can change drastically overnight in the Fortymile River drainage. Always tie your boat well above the high water mark. Good weather in your particular location does not guarantee stable water levels. Rain in the headwaters can lead to significant fluctuations far downstream and change the characteristics of rapids. Updated information on current water levels in the Fortymile drainage is available on-line from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service of the National Weather Service. It is easy to become disoriented in the deep valleys of the rugged Fortymile country. Take along a compass and inch-to-the-mile maps of your route and a GPS unit if you have one. Keep track of your position as you float. Rapids and portages are not marked. Also carry maps of the surrounding area in case a mishap forces you to walk out cross-country.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Sightseeing from the Taylor Highway is one of the the primary attractions for visitors to the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River. Some travelers follow the Taylor Highway to its end in the historic village of Eagle, home of historic Fort Egbert. Others turn off at its junction with the Top of the World Highway, which continues into Yukon Territory and the Klondike Gold Rush town of Dawson City. Either way, be prepared for an unforgettable trip through the Fortymile country.

  • Camping

    BLM maintains three public campgrounds in the Fortymile region: West Fork Campground (Taylor Highway milepost 48.8), Walker Fork Campground (Taylor Highway milepost 82) and Eagle Campground in the town of Eagle. These campgrounds include campsites with picnic tables, as well as outhouses and potable water. Dump stations are not available; campers are encouraged to dump in Tok or Dawson. Overnight camping is not allowed at BLM waysides along the Taylor Highway.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is allowed.

  • Historic Sites

    From its start near the Tanana River to its end at the Yukon River, the Taylor is a highway built around, next to, over, and because of rivers. It provides travelers with unparalleled access not only to the mighty Yukon but also the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River, a watercourse that has shaped this region in ways as deep as the valleys it has carved through the Yukon-Tanana Uplands. Travel the Taylor Highway's twisty path, and you'll pass through some of the state's most interesting history while enjoying gorgeous scenery along the way.

Seasonality/Weather

Open year-round.

Directions

Driving

The Fortymile Wild and Scenic River is located in east-central Alaska near the Canadian border. The river's numerous forks flow into the 'mainstem' Fortymile River, which joins the Yukon River in Canada. Approximate driving times: 6 to 8 hours from Fairbanks; 8 to 10 hours from Anchorage; 2 to 3 hours from Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

Begin your trip at the BLM office in Tok (on East First Street), where you can obtain the latest information on river conditions and advice on trip options. Proceed east from Tok 12 miles on State Highway 2 to Taylor Highway and then to a selected drop-off point, such as the South Fork Bridge Wayside or Fortymile Bridge. Air taxi shuttles to remote drop-off and take-out points can also be arranged in Tok or Fairbanks.

The Taylor Highway provides road access to the Fortymile River at four places in Alaska. Another access point is available via a dirt road from the Top of the World Highway in Yukon Territory, Canada. The end of the Taylor Highway in the village of Eagle provides additional road access for those who float to the mouth of the Fortymile River and then down the Yukon River.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(800) 437-7021

Links