The Mulchatna River is a world famous Wild and Scenic River, especially noted for the quality of the fishing for all types salmon, trout and grayling. It's headwaters are at Turquoise Lake along the western edge of the Neocola Mountains of the Alaska Range and the Chigmit Mountains of the Aleutian Range and it lies within the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. It is a little over an hour flight from Anchorage. There is good hiking in the region of the lake and excellent fishing as well. The river travels through a swift rocky gorge into a wide lake dotted valley below the Bonanza Hills and it is the upper section that has a swift rocky canyon with some Class III rapids to negotiate. There are trips from 54 miles to 230 miles that could be done here and might take from 5 to 13 days in rafts or kayaks.
To get to the Mulchatna River you need to start in Anchorage, Alaska. From Anchorage, it is possible to fly an hour and fifteen minutes to Turquoise Lake by chartered floatplane. You could take a commercial flight to Iliamna or Port Alsworth and then charter a flight in to the lake. This might be a little less expensive, but not by much. It is 230 miles to a take out at on the Nushagak River. If the river is too low for the upper rocky stretch you can use a lake to the west of Bonanza Hills and adjacent to the river to land on. From here it is 180 miles of Class I river with good current to the Nushagak River where there are villages with regular scheduled flight service. You could fly in to the river near Dummy Creek, as well, and have a 140-mile trip without any significant rapids and great fishing.
Take out options are a few. The long trip is to go all the way to New Stuyahok on the Nushagak River where there are regularly scheduled commercial flights available. There is a place near Dummy Creek that is suitable for a floatplane to land and makes for an 80-mile trip from Turquoise Lake. Floatplanes often land at the confluence with the Koktuli River about 30 miles above the Nushagak confluence. This would make a 110-mile float from below Bonanza Hills and 168 miles from Turquoise Lake.
Turquoise Lake to Bonanza Creek: 54 miles
This stretch of river rates highest in difficulty and lowest in visitation making it a wonderful section of river. From the lake vicinity are good hikes and high well drained ridges covered with alpine tundra. Leaving the lake, the first 22 miles are swift and rocky with many pour over boulders to dodge and cliff walls to move away from. If the river is very low this section may not even be runnable in a raft and kayaks may require extensive lining to move through the steep walled section. Once it leaves the tundra country it cuts through forest of spruce and birch. There is a deep narrow gorge called the Bonanza Hills Canyon where there is a 2-mile section of swift Class II and III river to get through. The canyon begins near the confluence with Summit Creek that enters from the south, river right along here. About 24 miles blow this canyon is a section of boulders and ledge drops. The river makes a sweeping oxbow and cuts a small gorge with a Class III ledge drop and many other smaller ledge drops in the area of Half Cabin Lake. There are large haystack waves and strong hydraulics in here.
Bonanza Creek to Dummy Creek: 30 miles
Below Bonanza Creek, the river becomes a mellow Class I float all the way to Dummy Creek where there is a long straight stretch where floatplanes will come for you. Along the way you will pass Big Bonanza Creek, then the Chilkadrotna River and after another 12 miles Dummy Creek.
Dummy Creek to New Stuyahok: 140 miles
This stretch of river would be an ideal family style float trip with no real hazards other than logjams and sweepers that are easily avoided if you are paying attention. The Koktuli River enters from river left aft a point about 120 miles below the Chilkadrotna River mouth. Once the river passes the Chilkadrotna it widens and the current increases with the river braiding through a forested river bottom ecosystem. The village of New Stuyahok lies on the west bank of the Nushagak River and can’t be missed.
Lake Clark B-7, B-8, C-4, C-6, C-7, D-3, D-4, D-5, D-6
Taylor Mountains A-1, A-2, B-1
Dillingham B-4, C-3, C-4, D-2, D-3