Fort Yukon

Quick Facts

  • Pronounced (YOO-kawn)
  • Current Population 586 (2012 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)
  • Legislative Districts (link to State Legislature page):
    • Senate District T
    • House District 39
    • Judicial District 4
  • Latitude: 66.5647
  • Longitude: -145.2739

map of alaska showing ft. yukons location in relation to fairbanks


Fort Yukon is located at the confluence of the Yukon and Porcupine Rivers, about 145 air miles northeast of Fairbanks.


The winters are long and harsh, and the summers are short but warm. After freeze-up, the plateau is a source of cold, continental arctic air. Daily minimum temperatures between November and March are usually below 0 °F. Extended periods of -50 to -60 °F are common. Summer high temperatures run 65 to 72 °F; a high of 97 °F has been recorded. Total annual precipitation averages 6.58 inches, with 43.4 inches of snowfall. The Yukon River is ice-free from the end of May through mid-September.


Fort Yukon was founded in 1847 by Alexander Murray as a Canadian outpost in Russian territory. It became an important trade center for the Gwich’in Indians, who inhabited the vast lowlands of the Yukon Flats and River valleys. The Hudson Bay Company, a British trading company, operated at Fort Yukon from 1846 until 1869.

In 1862, a mission school was established. In 1867, Alaska was purchased by the U.S., and, two years later, it was determined that Fort Yukon was on American soil. Moses Mercier, a trader with the Alaska Commercial Company, took over operation of the Fort Yukon Trading Post.  A post office was established in 1898.

The fur trade of the 1800s, the whaling boom on the Arctic coast (1889-1904), and the Klondike Gold Rush spurred economic activity and provided some economic opportunities for the Natives. However, major epidemics of introduced diseases struck the Fort Yukon population from the 1860s until the 1920s.

In 1949, a flood damaged or destroyed many homes in Fort Yukon. During the 1950s, a White Alice Communications System and an Air Force station were established. Fort Yukon incorporated as a city in 1959.


Most Fort Yukon residents are descendants of the Yukon Flats, Chandalar River, Birch Creek, Black River, and Porcupine River Gwich’in Athabascan tribes. Subsistence is an important component of the local culture.

Community profile data provided by the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.