The 126-mile stretch of the Yukon River between the former gold-rush towns of Eagle and Circle is protected in the 2.5-million-acre Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve. In the Charley River watershed a crystalline white-water stream flows out of the Yukon-Tanana uplands, allowing for excellent river running for expert rafters. The field office in Eagle and the NPS office in Fairbanks provide guidance to boaters.
In great contrast to the Charley, the Yukon River is a powerful waterway, dark with mud and glacial silt. The only bridge built across it in Alaska carries the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The river surges deep, slow, and through this stretch, generally pretty flat, and to travel on it in a small boat is a humbling and magnificent experience. You can drive from Fairbanks to Eagle (via the Taylor Highway off the Alaska Highway) and to Circle (via the Steese Highway), and from either of these arrange for a ground-transportation shuttle back to your starting city at the end of your Yukon River trip. Weeklong float trips down the river from Eagle to Circle, 150 miles away, are possible. There are no developed campgrounds or other visitor facilities within the preserve, but low-impact backcountry camping is permitted.