Jarvis-Kaskawulsh-Dezadeash River Loop
Put-in: Jarvis River Bridge, approximately 30 km North of Haines Junction on the Alaska Highway
Distance: Approximately 60 km
Time: 3 days/2 nights
1:50 000 Topo Maps:
Kloo Lake (115 A/13), Jarvis River (115 B/16), Airdrop Lake (115 B/9), Auriol (115 A/12)
The route described here is only a suggestion that may help guide you on your trip. Wilderness travel experience is essential, including excellent route finding skills, map and compass skills, paddling skills and self rescue skills.
Bear-resistant food canisters are mandatory in this area and are available at no cost when registering at the Haines Junction or the Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centres. All overnight trips into Kluane National Park & Reserve require a backcountry permit. There is a high level of bear activity in these areas and visitors should be familiar with travelling safely in bear country. Please see the staff at the visitor centres for more information, read the You Are In Bear Country brochure and report all bear activity to park staff.
The trip averages 3 days and 2 nights. Camping is usually done somewhere before Kimberley creek and at the Jarvis-Kaskawulsh confluence. Once at the Kaskawulsh River visitors are not permitted to camp or travel on river right—the South-side of the Kaskawulsh River—due to the Alsek-Kaskawulsh Grizzly Bear Protection Area restrictions. Camping or travel is also not permitted on the Kaskawulsh River upstream of the Jarvis River (which includes a portion of the river right side of the Jarvis river downstream of Telluride creek). Please see the Kluane National Park Restricted and Prohibited Areas map for details.
This trip is best done during higher water, usually in June and early July, to avoid rocks; however, the flow rate at this level is much faster with larger waves and increased potential for a canoe to be pushed into hazards such as rocks, log jams, or sweepers (trees that have fallen into the river and obstruct a portion or the entire channel). The river averages Class II+ depending on the section, and as is true of all rivers in the Yukon, the water is very cold.
It is important to consider that water levels and conditions change depending on weather, time of year and new sweepers and/or log jams. Paddlers need to consider these varying conditions and be prepared for them. While traveling though the wilderness it is important to follow the Leave No Trace principles, and in doing so, you will minimize your footprint on the environment!
The description that follows is laid out in three sections. Should any of the paddling terminology used be unfamiliar, this is a good indication that the level of difficulty may be too great.
Section 1: Jarvis River Bridge to Kimberley Creek:
The Jarvis River is swift, narrow and rocky with several sweepers and log jams to avoid. The river also has very tight or blind corners. At times several channels exist and route selection may be difficult. There has been at least one river-wide log jam present for a few years which may move, change or more full-width log jams may form as beetled-killed spruce trees fall into the river. The log jams will likely involve a full day of navigation. There has also been a section of the river where the river is flowing into the forest and into a large log jam, again this section may change depending on fallen trees, the course of the river and water levels. Paddlers MUST be able to competently back ferry and stop their boat if needed. Paddlers must be able to scout, line, and drag their boats over and around obstructions.
Section 2: Kimberley Creek to the Kaskawulsh River:
The volume and gradient of the Jarvis River increases dramatically after Kimberley and Telluride creeks enter. Paddlers can expect fast, turbulent water with large waves; only a few eddies but with strong eddy lines; steep rock walls that are possibly undercut, and blind corners.
Section 3: Kaskawulsh River to Dezadeash River:
The Kaskawulsh River is large in volume, and is swift with braided channels. Some standing waves do exist; however, the river is generally flat and fast-moving. Where eddies exist, expect strong eddy lines that are capable of flipping a boat. It is best to stay to river left, if possible, as you near the confluence of the Dezadeash and Kaskawulsh Rivers in order to minimize the upstream paddling required on the Dezadeash River. Paddling up the Dezadeash may require lining some sections. Be careful of "quicksand" if walking in the shallows, as it is easy to quickly become stuck in the muddy river bottom.