Alaska Rafting Tours
Floating down the river, you hear the rush of water approaching. Suddenly you see them: the unmistakable caps of whitewater. Before you know it you're in the middle of the rapids, holding on tight as water splashes all around. You spin and speed down the raging tides, white-knuckled yet smiling from ear to ear. Or perhaps you'd prefer to skip the rollercoaster ride and relax on a gentle float through a silent stretch of pristine Alaska wilderness, as nature goes about its business.Whether you choose a whitewater adventure or a scenic float trip, visitors will enjoy their time on the water, regardless of age or ability. These trips are some of the best ways to connect with nature in Alaska. You're outdoors, away from motors and exhaust, working closely in concert with the water. Because of our massive glacier runoff and rainwater drainage, Alaskan rivers serve up more adventure than most anything you'd find in the Lower 48—from the Kenai Peninsula's Sixmile River to Denali's Nenana River.
There are so many amazing adventures to be had in Alaska. So why should you go Alaska whitewater rafting or calm water rafting?
Alaska rafting puts you right in the middle of nature, giving you up-close views of Alaska's wildlife.and its unique topography. Glaciers have carved U-shaped valleys and channels that move swiftly through the landscape. It also gives you an up-close look at wildlife.
Even a first-timer can experience advanced Alaska whitewater runs. Because of the high level of professionalism and experience in Alaska's river guides, you needn't have gone rafting before to enjoy it.
Dollar for dollar, rafting is one of Alaska's best values. A basic 2-3 hour Alaska whitewater rafting trip or scenic float could cost between $50-85, versus $175 or more for a 1.5-hour flightseeing trip, or $450 or more for a full-day bear-viewing safari.
Rafting was used by those trying to make it upriver to the goldfields at the turn of the century. Sure, today's rafts are made of advanced vinyls and not the hand-hewn log rafts of yesteryear. But people moved through the country by water looking for gold, to go hunting, or to migrate to new, richer areas. And it's easy to imagine yourself as a pioneer while traveling this way.
When planning a rafting trip, make sure you pick the right style for you. There are two basic types:
- Whitewater rafting: Sometimes akin to a rollercoaster ride: Calm water followed by raging tides. You'll be white-knuckled but smiling from ear to ear. (Don't worry—even first-timers can handle it, and your guides are experienced.)
- Scenic Floats: Sounds mellow, and it is. Relax on a gentle float through a silent stretch of pristine Alaska wilderness, as nature goes about its business. The emphasis is on wildlife viewing.
McCarthy-Kennicott View All
Single to multi-day tours in beautiful Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Taking to the rivers is such an excellent way to explore Wrangell St. Elias National park, and this operator out of McCarthy offers day trips that let you embrace the wonders of the park in a comfortable, hands-on, way. Both day trips are four hours. One allows you to paddle around a glacial lake, relax, and take in the scenery. The other takes it up a notch by floating downriver through class 2 and 3 rapids after a brief paddle around the lake. ...more
Experience the thrill of trying out a new sport: packrafting. Led by expert guides, you’ll leave from the town of Kennicott out to the Alaskan backcountry, then strap a raft to your back (it’s under 9 pounds) and set off on an interpretive walk down to a lake. Then unpack the raft and put in the water. You’ll learn how to use and maneuver these unique boats in Class I‑II water, and even have the possibility of taking on some Class III rapids. ...more
Sprawling Wrangell-St. Elias National Park has huge mountains, North America’s largest concentration of glaciers, and thousands of rivers — but just two roads. That’s why taking to the local rivers is such an excellent way to explore the park: this operator out of McCarthy offers multi-day adventures that embrace the rugged wonders of the park, while keeping you comfortable enough so that you relax and enjoy it.
Juneau View All
Relaxing waters with glacier views on the Mendenhall River
The focus of the 3.5‑hour Mendenhall Glacier Float Trip is great views of the namesake glacier, which is 1.5 miles wide, 150 feet high, and the most famous part of the massive Juneau Icefield that even John Muir once raved about. Glide along the iceberg-studded lake and scope out the glacier, getting up-close views of hanging glaciers and towering peaks. Keep an eye out for birds nesting in the rocky cliffs, as well as otters, seals, black ...more
Talkeetna & Willow View All
Calm waters with a view of Denali on the Talkeetna, Susitna, and Chulitna Rivers
Float through the remote wilderness of Denali State Park with the company that has offered expertly guided rafting day trips for the past 16 years. You’ll get breathtaking views of glacial moraines, boulder fields, granite canyons, and sparkling hematite beaches. Wildlife abounds in this spectacular country, and it’s quite common to see eagles, bears, fox, wolf, lynx, beavers, and moose, as well as many species of birds and fish. Choose a ...more
Go for a relaxing 3‑hour float trip down gentle Willow Creek as you take in the gorgeous scenery of the Alaskan backcountry. Departing from Pioneer Lodge, just off the Parks Highway south of Talkeetna, you’ll board a raft with up to 6 others and an expert guide. Then just kick back, or grab a paddle if you like: You can expect easy-gliding Class I and II rapids on this gentle river.
Glacier View View All
Amazing Matanuska Glacier views just under two hours from Anchorage
Experience a scenic float along a glacial river. Just 90 minutes from Anchorage, the Matanuska Glacier is Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier, and the water running underneath creates a river that’s perfect for rafting. You’ll float downstream for up to 2 hours, taking in the scenery along the way — mountains, river channels, hillsides, moraines — and looking out for wildlife. It’s fun for the whole family — anyone ages 5 and up can do this ...more
If you’re new to whitewater rafting or experienced in shooting through rapids, Lion’s Head makes for an exciting whitewater rafting trip. You’ll spend 2.5 hours speeding down class II, III, and IV whitewater, either paddling yourself or hanging on as your guide steers the raft downstream. All the while, you’ll be passing through gorgeous wilderness — wide-open vistas with massive rock formations — where you’ll have the opportunity to look for ...more
Girdwood & Kenai Peninsula View All
Explore the Kenai or Sixmile Rivers, only 40 minutes to 2 hours from Anchorage
Six Mile Creek is one of the most famous — and most challenging — whitewater runs in the entire state of Alaska. Your heart will be pounding and your muscles burning as you paddle through rapids called “Big Rock Drop,” “Suckhole,” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Experience the wilderness of the Chugach National Forest from several different perspectives. Combine a helicopter ride, alpine hike, glacial lake tour, river rafting and train ride all in 9 – 10 hours! It’s one big and bold Alaska tour de force with Chugach Adventures.
The original hallmark trip that got the Alaska Railroad to bring the Glacier Discovery to Spencer Glacier in 2002. This is one of the most scenic glacier river trips in Alaska and a perfect float for all ages. Your trip begins with a scenic ride on Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery train, which runs from Anchorage, Girdwood, and other pick-up points along the railbelt. Enjoy a beautiful ride down Turnagain Arm and the Placer River Valley and ...more
Denali View All
Calm waters & exciting rapids with gorgeous canyon views on the Nenana River
Traverse Alaska can craft fully-guided custom adventures, or set you up on a trip into the Alaska wilderness arming you with some know-how — and providing you with the independence to freely explore. Traverse Alaska’s owner, Joe and his local team can help facilitate stays in lodges, cabins, tents or yurts, and provide the necessary gear and instructions..
Just outside Denali National Park, the Nenana River offers a unique rafting experience: The river is big and icy cold, with glacially fed waters. But this rafting outfitter based near the Park Entrance offers a soul-warming experience on the river, which makes an excellent counterpart to a bus tour through the national park. Choose a quick 3 hour trip on mild water or splash through some rapids. Or opt for a longer excursion ranging from 5.5 - ...more
Experience the thrill of rushing rapids or a mild whitewater float through one of America’s great wilderness areas with rafting from Denali Park Village. Operating on two stretches of the Nenana River for nearly 30 years, this company’s guides not only know the area, but also are versed in its natural history. Their guide safety training program is among the most extensive in Alaska. Add to that a private riverside launch, a brand-new boathouse, ...more
Haines View All
Mild waters through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
With bald eagles, bears, and gorgeous scenery, these tours out of Haines are soft adventure at their best: You don’t have to have any previous experience to enjoy these kayaking and rafting tours, but you’ll get the up-close experience of a veteran adventurer.
Cooper Landing View All
Scenic floats & whitewater trips in Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Alaska Wildland Adventures pioneered floating the mellow, turquoise Kenai River and has operated continuously since 1977. Join them for a serene 2‑hour float, or take on a 7‑hour adventure, complete with fun Class II+ rapids and a cruise through a glacial lake. AWA’s Kenai River Scenic Float Trip offers a nice introduction to the river, taking you along a stretch of the scenic Upper Kenai closed to motorized boats. Watch for wildlife as your ...more
Alaska River Adventures Kenai River rafting trips are some of its most popular and accessible excursions – and are a great value too. Full day trips showcase 19 miles of Alaska wild from Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake, giving plenty of time for spotting wildlife, historic spots and gorgeous views from all angles. When you have just a few hours, a scenic and serene 14-mile float of the Upper Kenai River provides a variety of sights, from historic ...more