Blackstone and Peel River
A mountain river in the Peel River Watershed of the northern Yukon
The secret alternative to the Wind River
Spectacular mountain scenery with great hiking opportunities
Challenging water for experienced paddlers
Blackstone - never heard about it. Why go canoeing there ?
Following your instinct to discover; looking for a journey off the beaten path, or to feel the energy and power of nature and your own.
The Blackstone is the small brother of the Wind, Snake, and Bonnet Plume River. Over to the west, he forms the Peel River when meeting the Ogilvie after leaving the mountains.
Rarely traveled, the Blackstone sets itself aside by barren limestone ridges with interesting folded and sculptured slopes and ravines, and castle like crowns along some ridges. An indication of an unglaciated landform. This is wilderness as good as it gets.
Cliffs here are prime nesting spots for peregrine falcons. Since the mountains slope right down to the rivers edge in a lot of places, we take advantage of it with several mountain hikes. Rock Wall Canyon impresses with itsvertical cliff walls where holes and caves have formed by erosion.
Mountain hikes are usually steep and strenuous, but rewarding with vistas down to the Blackstone River , the Hart River Valley and to the Eagle Plains.
A couple of days are reserved for hiking and exploring.
The Blackstone is a small, swift shallow river with clear water which makes paddling a delight. Its changing character requires constant attention and keeps you engaged.
Shallow braids and riffles, boulder gardens, tight bends with sweepers log jams and funny currents require recise maneuvering.
Suddenly the Ogilvie Mountains give way to the taiga region of the Eagle Plains.
The Peel River starts, where the Ogilvie joins in. The valley widens and on the last two days we negotiate the ledge rapids on the Peel River. Depending on water level some lining and short portages are required to sneak by. Those last 2-3 days of the trip are the highlight in terms of whitewater.
Just before the impassable Aberdeen Canyon we will be picked up by a floatplane, for an amazing flight across the tundra and the mountains we just came through.
A trip of a lifetime definitely off the beaten path - and we mean it.
To brush up whitewater skills, we practice some technical maneuvers on a small river close to our guest cabin before we head out onto the Blackstone.
|Day 1||Arrival in Whitehorse, pick up at the airport. Time for last minute shopping before the trip. Afterwards drive to Yukon Wild Base Camp. Stay at our guest cabin.|
|Day 2||On a small river nearby we oil rusty canoeing skills. Eddy turns, ferries, avoiding obstacles and running a rapid will be part of your day. . This is a great introduction to prepare for the Blackstone River itself. This night you stay in the cabin at the Yukon Wild Base.|
|Day 3||We drive up north on the Klondike Highway to the Dempster Highway junction. Shortly after, the landscape changes as we head further north. The boreal forest gives way to open tundra. Past the Tombstone Mountains we reach the upper Blackstone River - start of our trip. It just takes a short paddle to leave the gravel road behind and set up camp along the river.|
|Day 4 - 9||
The fast, clear water of the Blackstone and the impressive Ogilvie Mountains are constantly competing for our attention. On the river, navigating the shallow channels and obstructed passages test our skills. On dry land the rugged mountain slopes challenge our physica lfitness. Long days allow ample time for excursions along the river. Extra hiking days let us get up onto lofty ridges and viewpoints.
On the last day on the Blackstone we leave the mountains. The river braids but stays fast with sweepers and log jams. Bordered by riparian forest, it provides habitat to shorebirds. Finally the Ogilvie River joins in, the beginning of the Peel River.
|Day 10 - 12||After one day on the Peel we encounter the first ledge rapids. Basalt rock creating river wide drops in places. Some sections have to be lined or circumnavigated with short portages. With the Hart River joining in, the amount of water doubles. Just before Aberdeen Canyon we set up our last camp on the Peel|
|Day 13||A float plane will pick us up for a spectacular return flight to Mayo. From above we can re trace our path through the barren tundra and the uninhabitat world of rugged mountains.|
|Day 14||Along the Klondike Highway we return to the Base Camp at Yukon Wild for our last camp fire together.|
|Day 15||Airport transfer , bye bye Yukon|