Interior Alaska Float Trips

Its Boundaries

South of the Brooks Range and north of the Alaska Range, this is the broad swath of the Koyukuk, Yukon and Tanana watersheds, east of the Nulato Hills region.

What It’s Like

The Interior rivers are of a different class entirely. Many are huge, offering thousand-mile journeys and carrying enormous amounts of fresh water to the sea.

The majority of the rivers flow from mountain to valley to lowlands, and then on to the Bering Sea. There are some vast salmon runs, but the fish around here are more likely caught in nets or in the big fish wheels near villages. It maybe just as well: many of these rivers are glacial in origin, making them cloudy and cold—and, as result, less accessible for fishing than the clearer, southwestern rivers. As a contrast, the non-glacial rivers around here actually seem warm by comparison.

Either way, solitude and wilderness are readily available around here, with many trips offering a great combination of exciting whitewater and mellow floating, as you travel through both wilderness and native culture.

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Float Trips

The Interior Alaska Float Trips

Overview The Tal­keet­na Riv­er is, accord­ing to almost every guide­book or ref­er­ence you may con­sult, the most clas­sic, wilder­ness, white­wa­ter trip in Alas­ka. Its remote loca­tion, steep, fast-water canyon, abun­dant fish­ing and wildlife view­ing make it one of the true clas­sics for sure. It requires a bush plane to fly into the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains where there are huge views of the high­est peak in North Amer­i­ca, Denali, and in the head­wa­ters area…  ...more

A major trib­u­tary of the Yukon Riv­er, the Fortymile is a clear water stream that has 6 main forks flow­ing east of the Mer­tie Moun­tains and north of the Tanana State For­est area, out of the Yukon-Tanana Uplands, not far south of the Arc­tic Cir­cle. To the west of the Mer­tie Moun­tains is the Charley Riv­er and the moun­tain ridge­line is the bound­ary for the Yukon-Charley Rivers Nation­al Pre­serve to the west. Both the Charley and the Fortymile are…  ...more

The Chena Riv­er begins in the White Moun­tains and is fed by five trib­u­taries, the North Fork, South Fork, West Fork, Mid­dle (East) Fork and the Lit­tle Chena. All the forks emp­ty into the Mid­dle Fork, which is the main sec­tion of the Chena Riv­er. The spring-fed Chena Riv­er runs right through down­town Fair­banks and is a Class II riv­er with many inter­est­ing fea­tures along its length. There are some des­ig­nat­ed camp­grounds in a few loca­tions. In…  ...more

From the Tanana uplands and The Mer­tie Moun­tains above 64 degrees north lat­i­tude, the Charley Riv­er is a Nation­al Wild and Scenic water­way and flows north­ward about 108 miles to the Yukon Riv­er. It is often thought of as one of the pre­mier wilder­ness white­wa­ter trips of the state and flows through three dis­tinct topo­graph­ic regions – open upland val­ley, cliff bound riv­er, and open flood­plain – offer­ing var­ied, and spec­tac­u­lar scenery as well…  ...more

Beaver Creek Nation­al Wild and Scenic Riv­er has its head­wa­ters in the White Moun­tains, north of Fair­banks, Alas­ka. The riv­er flows west past the jagged lime­stone ridges of the White Moun­tains before flow­ing to the north and east, where it enters the Yukon Flats and joins the Yukon Riv­er. It is one of the few road acces­si­ble streams in Alas­ka with a Wild and Scenic des­ig­na­tion. The first 127 miles of Beaver Creek were des­ig­nat­ed a National…  ...more

The Chulit­na Riv­er flows to the south out of a huge val­ley from Broad Pass, one of only two breaks in the Alas­ka Range Moun­tains, where the high­way, the train, the geese, and the riv­er, all pass on their way to Cook Inlet. It offers a chance for a float of 75 miles and can take as lit­tle as 3 days in kayaks but can be a nice 4 or 5‑day trip. Canoes and kayaks are fun on the upper but tip­py on the low­er sec­tion. There are three forks of the…  ...more

The Nenana Riv­er, a glacial riv­er, forms the east­ern bound­ary of Denali Nation­al Park and is pos­si­bly the most pop­u­lar riv­er raft­ing des­ti­na­tion in the state. It offers a vari­ety of lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty and has a thriv­ing com­mer­cial raft­ing indus­try that oper­ates 2 hour, 4 hour and overnight trips for locals as well as out of state tourists.

The Gulka­na Riv­er is an approx­i­mate­ly 80-mile long riv­er that can be done in 5 to 7 aver­age length days. It is a Nation­al Wild and Scenic Riv­er and one of Alaska’s most pop­u­lar white­wa­ter riv­er trips. It is an excel­lent fish­ing riv­er trip, as well, with a large King Salmon run and lots of small­er sport fish to try for. The first three miles are, gen­er­al­ly, Class II with 4 mph cur­rent and some Class III. The next 13 to 15 miles to canyon…  ...more

The Hap­py Riv­er is a gem of an Alas­ka Range Riv­er. Locat­ed in a vast wilder­ness and drain­ing the south slopes from Rainy Pass, and flow­ing into the much larg­er Skwent­na Riv­er, it is a swift, rocky riv­er of mod­er­ate to slight­ly above mod­er­ate dif­fi­cul­ty. Kayak­ers find it an easy run, while it presents sev­er­al chal­lenges to raft­ing par­ties. In the upper val­ley the riv­er is with­in a most gor­geous loca­tion with swift, con­tin­u­ous but small rapids,  ...more

The Chatani­ka Riv­er, a Class II riv­er, is a part of the Yukon Riv­er drainage and is a clear or light­ly tan­nic stained rapid-runoff stream. It has its head­wa­ters in the moun­tains of the north­east­ern por­tion of the Alas­ka Range and flows west­ward through val­leys between sum­mits and uplands for about four-fifths of its length before it enters Minto Flats, even­tu­al­ly join­ing the Tolo­vano Riv­er. It is most suit­ed to small craft such as canoes or…  ...more

Overview 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…  ...more

There are grav­el bars that a char­tered plane with wheels can land on, or there are qui­et, deep sec­tions of riv­er just below Vic­to­ria Creek that a float­plane can land on.

The best spot to put in is at Yel­low Jack­et Creek, about 20 miles from the Tal­keet­na Glac­i­er, even though the grav­el strip itself is not a favorite of some pilots. But groups do go there and it is where we rec­om­mend you go. By start­ing at this point you have good hik­ing in the upper alpine mountains.

The take out is nor­mal­ly the Chulit­na Bridge of the Parks High­way at mile 132.8 and by this point the riv­er is flow­ing big and get­ting pulled over and stopped can be tricky some­times. But the left side of the riv­er, just above the bridge, is the best access.

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