Goodnews River

Located in southwest Alaska and flowing out of the Ahklun Mountains to the Bering Sea, the North Fork of the Goodnews River is an ideal family and/or friends, 5 day float trip of 60 miles on an easy river that is choked with fish in the summer months. The upper half lies within designated wilderness in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and is surrounded by green tundra covered mountains and has good current in the upper reaches with little or no current near its mouth at Goodnews Bay. In fact tidal influences reverse the current at its mouth. At times, low water can make the upper braids too shallow and may require some dragging over riffles.

The Togiak National Wildlife Refuge includes 4.7 million acres of land in southwest Alaska between Kuskokwim Bay and Bristol Bay. The eastern boundary of Togiak Refuge is about 350 air miles southwest of Anchorage. The Togiak Refuge is bordered on the north by Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and on the east by Wood-Tikchik State Park. Togiak Refuge is roadless. Primary access is via air or water. Togiak Refuge features a variety of landscapes, including mountain crags, fast-flowing rivers, deep lakes, tundra, marshy lowlands, ponds, estuaries, coastal lagoons, and sea cliffs. The broad glacial valleys of the Ahklun Mountain range cut the tundra uplands, opening into coastal plains. The Ahklun Mountains spread across 80 percent of Togiak Refuge.

Put In

To get to the river one must take a scheduled flight from Anchorage to Dillingham or Bethel, with Dillingham a little closer, and then charter a floatplane to take you and your gear to Goodnews Lake 15 miles below the headwaters.

Take Out

Take out involves getting to Goodnews Bay to connect with your pickup and flight back to Dillingham or Bethel. This is not often easy as the tidal influences are strong and the current reverses for 5 miles upriver and some lower river camps will flood so a tide table is a good idea. Some groups will arrange/ hire a tow from Goodnews village the last 5 miles of tidally influenced river. There are often strong upriver winds to deal with also.

The Trip

Goodnews Lake to Canyon Creek: 25 miles

The flight to Goodnews Lake from Dillingham is fairly short and once you are at the lake, take the time to enjoy the solitude you have. On the lower section of river, you will see and hear powerboats with fishing lodge guests as they go after the trophy Rainbow Trout and Salmon that fill the river. The Ahklun Mountains are craggy and smooth and some good hiking is in this upper section. Once you leave the lake it is about 4 miles of swift water to the confluence with Awayak Creek entering from the right. It is here that there begins a section with minor rapids and shallow braids to negotiate. This exists the entire way to Canyon Creek, also entering from the right about 20 miles further. Sweepers are also something to be watching for as some of the shoreline trees are eroding into the river.

Canyon Creek to Goodnews Bay: 35 miles

This is the more popular section for sport fishermen and there is one major lodge located along the river 7 miles above Goodnews Bay and a couple miles above tidal influence. From Canyon Creek the river continues to braid through riffles and ease along cutbacks as it runs south and southwest. There will be many fish camps and sod houses along this section. Campsites are good and it is only after you pass the Goodnews River Lodge that your last camp needs to be well above the high tide zone.

USGS Maps

Goodnews Bay A-7, B-6, B-7

Distance

50 miles

Days

5

Difficulty

Easy

Class

I, II

Craft

Canoe
Kayak
Raft

Cost

$$$

Getting There

Coordinates
Latitude: 59.47713
Longitude: -160.583568

Show Map

Goodnews River Points

Take out involves get­ting to Good­news Bay to con­nect with your pick­up and flight back to Dilling­ham or Bethel. This is not often easy as the tidal influ­ences are strong and the cur­rent revers­es for 5 miles upriv­er and some low­er riv­er camps will flood so a tide table is a good idea. Some groups will arrange/​hire a tow from Good­news vil­lage the last 5 miles of tidal­ly influ­enced riv­er. There are often strong upriv­er winds to deal with also.  ...more

To get to the riv­er one must take a sched­uled flight from Anchor­age to Dilling­ham or Bethel, with Dilling­ham a lit­tle clos­er, and then char­ter a float­plane to take you and your gear to Good­news Lake 15 miles below the headwaters.

This is mos­qui­to and bear coun­try so bring the prop­er repel­lants for both. If your pilot advis­es against try­ing to pad­dle the last stretch to the vil­lage, have them help you arrange a boat to tow the final dis­tance. There are sev­er­al flight oper­a­tors in Dilling­ham that spe­cial­ize in tak­ing peo­ple in to Good­news Lake.