Jump to Town: Girdwood & Kenai Peninsula | Juneau | Talkeetna & Willow | Denali | Haines | Copper Center | Glacier View | McCarthy / Kennicott
Girdwood & Kenai Peninsula //40 mins to 2 hrs from Anchorage
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 Cooper Landing and the world famous Russian River combat fishing area, to spectacular views of the Kenai itself.
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 into remoter areas of Alaska that you can’t get to by car. Disembark at the Spencer Glacier Whistlestop, and gear up for an exploration of the iceberg-choked Spencer Lake and points beyond.
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 guide navigates you through the mountain scenery of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Juneau //Mendenhall River • Mendenhall Glacier views • Calm water
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 bears, and bald eagles.
Talkeetna & Willow //Susitna River • Mt. McKinley views • Calm water
May 15–September 15 (depending on weather)
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.
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 two-hour, four-hour, or full-day float trip.
Denali //Nenana River • Canyon views • Calm water • Rapids
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 for anything from hiking to packrafting, sea kayaking to glacier trekking, on an independent or fully-guided trip.
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, complimentary shuttle buses, and it’s hard to find a safer, more fun river trip near the park.
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 - 9.5 hours.
Haines //Mild water through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
May - September
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.
Glacier View //Matanuska Glacier Views • 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 trip—and you’ll be going with one of Alaska’s most experienced tour companies.
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 wildlife like Dall sheep and bears. And you’ll be traveling with one of Alaska’s most experienced tour companies.
McCarthy / Kennicott //Wrangell St. Elias National Park • Day Tours • Multi-Day Tours
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. Don’t miss this chance at a very unique opportunity.
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.
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.