The impact of Tintina Fault displacement on the development of the Yukon River and drainage basins of central Yukon is investigated through geophysical and hydrological modeling of digital terrain model data. Regional geological evidence suggests that the age of the planation of the Klondike Plateau is at least Late Cretaceous, rather than Neogene as previously assumed, and that surprisingly there has been little net incision in the region since the late Mesozoic. The Tintina Fault has been previously interpreted to have experienced ∼430 km of dextral displacement, primarily during the Eocene. However, the alignment of river channels across the fault at specific displacements, coupled with recent seismic events and related fault activity, suggests that the fault may have moved in stages over a longer time span. Topographic restoration and hydrological models show that the drainage of the Yukon River northwestward into Alaska via the ancestral Kwikhpak River was only possible at restored displacements of up to ∼50–55 km on the Tintina Fault. We interpret the published drainage reversals convincingly attributed to the effects of Pliocene glaciation as an overprint on earlier Yukon River reversals attributed to tectonic displacements along the Tintina Fault. At restored displacements between 230 and 430 km, our models illustrate that paleo-Yukon River drainage may have flowed eastward into the continental interior via an ancestral Liard River. The revised drainage evolution has wide-reaching implications for surficial geology deposits, the flow direction and channel geometries of the region’s ancient rivers, and importantly, for exploration of placer gold deposits.

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