Once they had gotten their goods to Lake Bennett, their journey was not over. The last segment of the journey from Seattle to Dawson was a 550-mile boat trip down the Yukon River. The river is only free from ice five months out of the year from mid-May to mid-October. Because of their timing, most stampeders had to spend the winter at Lake Bennett biding their time building boats to carry their ton of goods down the river.
On May 29, 1898 the ice broke up on the lake and over 7,000 boats left for Dawson in two days. The major obstacle on the Yukon River was the White Horse Rapids. Within the first few days, the rapids sunk over 150 boats. The Mounties then set up a checkpoint on the river and only allowed seaworthy craft with competent pilots to attempt the rapids. The regulations established by the Mounties saved many stampeders lives.