Get hands-on and up close as you learn about local animals, trappers, and the Dena’ina Indians, with the wilderness as your classroom. Mahay's Jet Boat Adventures makes it possible with their jet boat adventures on the Susitna, Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers. For some visitors, this exploration will be their deepest immersion into the Alaskan wilderness—something you just can't get from a flightseeing tour, a cruise, or a car.
Go Where Only a Boat Can Take You
The 20-mile Wilderness Excursion has 3 departures per day, and, at two hours, it won't take up the whole day. The tour travels up and down the "Su" on a high-tech jet boat that can navigate rivers in only inches of water. The ride starts upriver with an excellent view of the Alaska Range and Denali (weather permitting). Then it's back downriver through this otherwise impenetrable wilderness. Look up and spot a giant nest, home to bald eagles. Marvel at the huge trees lying on the riverbank, freshly felled by beavers—tours may pull up to the bank and collect wood chip souvenirs.
Then, your guide pulls ashore and leads you into the woods on a ¼-mile exploration along a forest trail, pointing out local plants and wildflowers used by native Alaskans. Step back in time as you discover the painstakingly reconstructed replica of an Dena’ina Indian dwelling. Seeing this lean-to, made in its natural setting, is an experience that's hard to find in a museum. Step inside an authentic trapper's cabin, complete with a chair carved and upholstered (in bear fur) by Steve Mahay himself back in 1972, when he lived in the Bush. In addition, explore a trapper's fur and food cache, and an emergency bivouac shelter.
This trip is a great addition to any stay in Talkeetna, and the 12:30pm and 2:30pm departures can be taken as a day trip from Anchorage via the Denali Star train.
60 Miles of Wildlife Sightings
The longer 3.5 hour, 60-mile Chulitna Gorge Journey includes all of the highlights of the Wilderness Excursion and beyond. This journey takes you on a braided river and up through a picturesque canyon with steep rock walls. Zig-zag through the glacially-fed river braids and enjoy the scenery. Beverages and a locally baked cookie are served onboard. If you’re staying at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, (about an hour drive north of Talkeetna), you can get dropped off at the bridge and save the hour coach ride back.
Thrills in Devil's Canyon
If you prefer to add a little whitewater to your wilderness experience, go for the Five-hour, 135-mile Devil's Canyon Adventure. You’ll board a glass-domed jet boat and head up the Su to see Denali. You’ll then continue upriver for another 65 miles to get into the exciting Class V Rapids, which offer some breathtaking photo opportunities. You can stand on the back of the boat outside, or snap some shots through the windows. This tour suits those with an adventurous spirit, but it's doable by most. It’s arguably one of the safest, driest ways to experience whitewater rapids.
Details: No experience necessary. No minimum age requirement, but small children may get restless on longer tours.