Rafting With Icebergs

Many of the coastal rivers in Alaska are fed by glaciers. And on the Copper, Alsek, and others, you’ll be floating downstream or paddling in lakes with icebergs or massive glacier faces. It’s an amazing experience, but one that demands caution.

Freshwater bergs, called growlers, are big and unstable. You’ll see and hear them rolling, crashing, and calving. If you want to get close to the ice, look for chunks that are lodged in shallow water, so they can’t roll and crush you or your boat. In open water, give the icebergs a wide berth.

In camp, consider predominate wind directions when tying up your raft. Ice can block access to open water, leading to a hard portage or even a layover day.

Calving can also send waves into camp. Look for high ground and keep the bowlines slack, so the waves don’t smash your raft against the shore and puncture it.


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