Rat-Bell-Porcupine Rivers: Fort McPherson to Old Crow (21 days / 460 km)

This trip is the historical route between the communities of Fort McPherson and Old Crow during the summer. It’s about 140 km up the Rat River, across the continental divide and MacDougal Pass into the Yukon River Watershed, down the Little Ball and Bell Rivers, into the Porcupine River.

Although not easy, and throwing several challenges at us, this trip turned out to be very memorable and going upriver proved challenging, but was more enjoyable then we thought it would be.

We did this trip from July 28th to August 19th2013, and it was an incredible journey. We were a group of 6 paddlers with 2 dogs in 3 different canoes: 2 Nova Craft Prospector 18 Royalex and one Nova Craft Prospector 17 Royalex, all with spraydecks. The water of the Rat was very cold, and murky for most of the trip, likely due to the heavy rains that we received early on the journey. The Little Bell and Bell Rivers were crystal clear and extremely cold, while the porcupine was slightly murky, but much warmer.

We kept going passed Old Crow by going down the Porcupine and Yukon Rivers to the Dalton Highway in Alaska. You can find information about that portion of the journey in another report.

Trip Completed: July/August 2013

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Fort McPherson, NWT

Ending Point: Old Crow, YT

Duration: 20 days

Difficulty: Advanced

Location: Northwest Territories and Yukon

Traditional Territory: This route takes place on the traditional territory of the Tetlit Gwich’in and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations.

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: A Guide to Paddling in the Yukon, Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed.

Map: I use the Canada Topo app for all my river trips, which is a free app (on iphones) which uses the original topo maps of Canada. You download the maps of your route before departing, and you can use them on your phone (or ipad) while out on your trip just like you would use a regular GPS.

Permits & Reservation...

To continue reading this Trip Report, please login below.

If you aren't a Member yet, please sign up here.