Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River
Guide

Introduction

Featuring an extensive network of rivers and creeks, Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River is a 392-mile long river that offers so much recreation for enthusiasts and visitors, making it a Mecca for those that seek pleasure and solitude. There are road access points to this river on the 160-mile long Taylor Highway 2 that makes it easy for guests coming from Tok, Alaska to easily get to the BLM land.

Whether your desire is land-based recreation, or some form of water-related activity, rest assured you will have a nice time at Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River. Right from when you are approaching the park on Taylor Highway, you’ll already be enjoying scenic sights. Upon arrival, you can decide to partake in river float trips, boating, kayaking, or fishing. Nature lovers will enjoy the sight of the various plant communities and wildlife species that call the area home. Visitors in winter are exposed to different opportunities at the nearby Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, while those that seek additional fun opportunities visit Tanana Valley State Forest and Chena River State Recreation Area.

BLM campgrounds are available near Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River.

RV Rentals in Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River

Transportation

Driving

Located in east central Alaska, Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River is located east of Fairbanks, Alaska, with a driving duration of six to eight hours. The most popular access routes to Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River are either Taylor Highway, which is 160 miles long and branches off the Alaska Highway near Tok at Tetlin Junction, or from Dawson City, Canada via the Top of the World Highway. If you’re coming in from Tok, you should drive about 12 miles on State Highway 2 to Taylor Highway. On Taylor Highway, there are road access points to Fortymile River at four places, so you can choose whichever preferred drop-off point along the highway you want.

It’s best to begin your expedition at the BLM office in Tok, where you can get the latest information and advisories about the river conditions and the state of the park routes.

There are no direct public transportation services to this BLM property.

For camping pursuits nearby, RV and equipment rentals are available at Fairbanks, Alaska and Dawson City, British Columbia.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River

Campsites in Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River

Alternate camping

West Fork Campground

West Fork campground is a pet-friendly campground located along Taylor Highway, Alaska. This campground is made up of 25 campsites within two loops. The first loop features seven campsites, while the other loop has 18 campsites. Tent camping is allowed in West Fork.

In summer, potable water is made available at a centralized location for campers within the campground. Pit toilets are provided.

The major activities to engage in at this campground are fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. If you would like to explore the nearby river, you will have to carry your boat, kayak, and canoe some distance to the water except during periods of high water.

Seasonal activities in Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River

In-Season

Flora

Along Fortymile River, there are diverse plant communities that offer good views and study opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The major plant communities are alpine tundra, tussocks, and boreal forests.

You’ll find the alpine tundra on the ridges and mountaintops above the timberline and make out plants such as dwarf shrubs, forbs, grasses, lichens, and sedges.

The tussock areas feature tussocks, scattered or stunted spruce, and grasses growing from small mounds.

The lower elevation areas are the sites where you’ll see the boreal forests.

Wildlife and Fish

Diverse wildlife species find the habitats along Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River comfortable, and so there are amazing viewing opportunities for wildlife watchers and hunters along the river corridor. You should look out for fauna such as moose, caribou, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, and black bear in the area. Raptors such as peregrine falcon are also quite common here.

Angling enthusiasts will find game such as round whitefish, Arctic grayling, and burbot within the river.

Boating

Rule number one when coming to Fortymile River to kayak, boat, or canoe is to wear a life jacket. Why? Because the river is cold. If your desire is to kayak or canoe along the bigger rapids on the river, ensure you have a wetsuit. Because the water level in the river drainage often changes overnight, tie your boat well above the high water mark.

Don’t be deceived by good weather because it doesn’t guarantee stable water levels, so take safety precautions and get updated information on the water levels from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service of the National Weather Service.

Off-Season

Floating

As one of the common activities that water-based enthusiasts at Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River engage in, floating along this river is definitely a worthwhile experience.

Float trips on the river offer visitors the chance to enjoy the solitude and scenic beauty of the surrounding areas, get glimpses of gold-mining dredges, and see abandoned townsites and cabins. There are road-accessible boat launch sites around the upper reaches of the river that offer trips lasting from a day to up to two weeks.

Winter Recreation

At the nearby Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, winter is a wonderful time to visit because the park hosts different recreational activities. The Yukon River is itself popular in history and legends about Jack London, Robert Service and other characters in folklore.

If you’re visiting, come along with fatbikes, skis, snowshoes and snow machines so that you can explore the winter landscape in the park. Travel in any direction is possible as the snow blankets the water and land in the preserve.

Tanana Valley State Forest

Every once in a while, people that visit the Fortymile National Wild and Scenic River take out time to stop by at Tanana Valley State Forest, a 2,830 square mile forest within the Tanana River Basin. The most popular activities in this forest are mining, timber production, gravel extraction, grazing, and oil and gas leasing. In spite of this, there are plenty of recreation opportunities available such as fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, boating, and trapping.

Pets are allowed in the forest, so guests often engage in dog mushing. In winter, snow machining and cross-country skiing are open to those interested.