Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site, Yukon
by Murray Lundberg
Campgrounds and Rest Areas in the Yukon Territory
This Recreation Site is located at Km 380 of the North Klondike Highway, 24 km north of Carmacks. It has outhouses, garbage bins, picnic tables, interpretive panels, and a 2-km walking trail to the cliffs overlooking the Yukon River's famous Five Finger Rapids.
The Five Finger islands and riverbank are composed of conglomerate rock (pebbles and boulders embedded in a sand-to-mud matrix) that is more resistant to erosion than surrounding mudstone layers. Only the channel closest to the highway was navigable for the sternwheelers plying the river, and a cable was attached to the rocks so sternwheelers could hook onto it and winch themselves up stream. It typically took 15-20 minutes for a power-capstan on the deck to pull the sternwheeler through the channel.
For much more information, see our Five Finger Rapids page.
The kilometer posts on the North Klondike Highway mark the mileage from the ferry terminal in Skagway, Alaska. Dawson City, the north end of the highway, is at Km 715.4.
Approaching Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site from the south.
The Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site sign.
The upper viewing deck, interpretive panels, and the top of the stairs.
This is the view that makes Five Fingers a must-stop on the North Klondike Highway.
A map of the site.
A sternwheeler climbing up through Five Finger Rapids.
A long flight of stairs takes you to a walking the trail to the cliffs overlooking the rapids.
There are about 220 steps - various people's counts range from 219 to 237.
The conglomerate islands as seen from the cliff-top viewing deck.
The rapids don't look like much from up top, but in a canoe, they get the adrenaline pumping.
Walking back towards the stairs - which seem much longer on a warm day!