The Yanert River is a little known gem that is the largest tributary of the quite popular Nenana River, which forms the eastern boundary of Denali National Park. It flows rapidly through a braided glacial outwash plain that fills a section of the ancient Hines Creek Fault line, and marks the zone of collision between ancient and newer tectonic plates. There is a short but deep gorge and the river is only 20 miles in length but by going slowly a great, long weekend trip can be done. It is only Class II in nature but you will join the much larger Class III+ Nenana River for the final five miles. The mountains here are a dramatic metamorphic and volcanic mix with, 12,000 foot, Mt Deborah heading the valley. It is a big, wide valley for such a short river and reflects an old and barely understood geologic history. It flows west off the flanks of Mt Deborah with some of the most rugged mountains of the Alaska Range forming the valley walls. It makes a good destination if you are interested in hiking up into the sheep country that is here. The actual float could be done in a long summer day, but by camping at the start and spending another night downriver, a 3 or 4 day trip could be created. Rafts are the most suitable boat even though kayakers do this trip in two days.
It is necessary to charter a small wheel equipped bush plane to get to the upper reaches of the river. Helicourier and Cessna Super Cubs are the best planes to use. There is a strip at Edgar Creek and at Louis Creek and numerous gravel areas that might be suitable for landing. You will need to check with local flight operators to determine where you might start.
The take out is vehicle accessed and the most likely take out is at a steep, river right, public boat launch at Kingfisher Creek, which enters the Nenana just below the George Parks Highway Bridge at Mile 238.
Edgar Creek to Nenana River: 22 miles
The strip at Edgar Creek is on river right and sets 200 yards away from the river so a carry is needed to get your gear alongside the main channel. If there has been hot, sunny weather prior to your trip, the river may be full, cold and the color of cement as the glacier that feeds the river is only a few miles upriver. There is good steep hillside scrambling to get to beautiful viewpoints looking down river in this upper section. Camping at the put in is not recommended as there is a 5-acre homestead here and privacy should be respected. Four to five miles downstream on river left is the confluence with Louis Creek. Up Louis Creek is good hiking. Pyramid Mountain sits in the center of the valley with the river passing along its base. It is an incredible view from on top of this peak and well worth the black spruce thicket, bush whack to get to the dry ground that will make the hike nontechnical. After you pass Pyramid Mountain Moose Creek, then Revine Creek will enter on river left and this marks the section that has the steep, winding mini gorge. There are no real obstacles here but many rock gardens and some big holes make it more suited to a raft than a canoe. The gorge is running at the base of the volcanic Mt Fellows and seems to be in the gut of the Hines Creek Fault Line in this stretch.
Nenana River to Kingfisher Creek Take Out: 6 miles
Where the river joins the Nenana River the volume will triple and you will, suddenly be on a big strong river that has a mile long Class III+ section beginning just after the Riley Creek confluence. Just after this swift section, you will see the Parks Highway Bridge. Float under the bridge and pull over to the right at the steep boat ramp that is there. The steep cliffs on river right along here are lambing areas and often Dall's Sheep and new lambs can be seen.
More details are mentioned in the section on the
- The gravel strip at Edgar Creek is where a local curmudgeon gets to his 5-acre homestead and it should be known that his property is off limits and you should not expect any hospitality from there.
- Hunters use the strip at Louis Creek and if you are there in the fall hunting season you will be sharing the valley with horses and hunters, especially at Louis Creek.