White Water Rafting Alaska’s Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers
The Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers have their headwaters in the extremely rugged regions of northwest British Columbia and the Yukon. Their corridors and tributaries connect a vast wilderness composed of adjoining parks and preserves in the United States and Canada that make up the largest protected international ecological unit in the world. In recognition of its extraordinary scenic and wildlife values, the Tatshenshini-Alsek wilderness area has been designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations. Because of their incredible wildness and beauty the rivers have become on the short list of the best white water rafting trips in the world.
Land of Ice and Glaciers
Alaska’s Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers wind their way through the largest non-polar ice field in the world. Below the confluence of the two rivers, rafting participants have the opportunity to walk on and explore the Walker Glacier, before the river flow into Alsek Lake where multiple glaciers are cut off by the river and form an enormous lake complete with hundreds of icebergs of varying sizes. Above the confluence the Alsek flows through Lowell Lake, and Turnback Canyon, where the Tweedsmuir Glacier has pushed the river into a solid granite mountain creating a section of class V rapids that require a helicopter portage around. The Tatshenshini is joined by a beautiful blue river called Melt Creek before its confluence with the Alsek.
Alaska’s True Wild
The best thing about white water rafting Alaska’s Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers is the experience of seeing the diverse flora and fauna. Camps are warmed by clusters of flaming fireweed and purple lupine. Side streams are teaming with spawning salmon and the area is home to Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, moose, wolves,mountain goats, beavers, wolverines, Bald Eagles, and many other small birds and mammals.
One of the best parts of white water rafting in Alaska is the breathtaking scenery of the Tatshensini-Alsek area. The floating icebergs and snow-covered peaks provide a stark contrast to the lush forests and meadows. It is a place that must be experienced to believe. Rafting the Tatshenshini or Alsek is every bit as spectacular as the Grand Canyon in a completely different way. Rafting Alaska’s Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers provides the perfect wilderness retreat for those who are looking for the ultimate outdoor getaway.
Contact Colorado River & Trail Expeditions for more information about this trip.
Alaska Rafting Trip Options
Tatshenshini-Alsek Rafting Expedition
This world-class rafting trip begins in the alder and aspen forests of the Yukon, threads its way through the steep mountain valleys of Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia, and ends among the spectacular ice-age landscapes of Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. Throughout the expedition, you will camp on gravel beaches decorated by clusters of Flaming Fireweed, hike along rushing streams teaming with salmon, explore mountain valleys with magnificent views, and walk upon the surface of a glacier for an up-close look at giant seracs, deep crevasses, and sparkling basins of melted ice. The area is rich in wildlife, including moose, beaver, foxes, bears, mountain goats, wolverines, eagles, and many other small birds and mammals.
A highlight of the trip is a day spent at Alsek Lake, where house-sized ice bergs calve off the faces of the Grand Plateau and Alsek glaciers. From a mile away, the cannon-blast retort of the breaking ice reverberates across the landscape. The lake is filled with blue and white bergs of all shapes and sizes that eventually melt enough to float into the river and on to the sea. Rowing through this wonderland of sculpted ice affords some amazing photographic opportunities.
The Tatshenshini-Alsek rafting expedition originates in Haines, Alaska, and concludes at Dry Bay. Participants fly from Dry Bay to Yakutat, Alaska, via bush plane, and from Yakutat to Juneau on a commercial airliner.
Alsek River Rafting Expedition
The Alsek River expedition embodies all of the elements of a genuine “far north” adventure as it flows through a huge pristine wilderness of stark, but exquisite beauty. From seemingly endless vistas, to narrow canyon views, visitors experience a landscape created by advancing and receding glaciers and continual scouring by the silt-laden river. Wildlife is abundant, including bears, wolves, foxes, wolverines, moose, mountain goats, tundra swans, and eagles. Wildflowers grow profusely along the river banks, adding color and softness to the glaciated terrain. The expedition starts in Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, flows through the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia, and concludes at Dry Bay in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.
The first part of the trip occurs in open country that invites hiking and exploration. The river then picks up speed and empties into Lowell Lake where we raft among floating icebergs before running the river’s biggest rapid, Lava North. Below Lava North, the Alsek winds its way to the surging Tweedsmuir Glacier, where the huge river is constricted into a narrow canyon with rapids too big for our rafts. After a helicopter portage of people and equipment, the journey continues to the confluence with the Tatshenshini River. At this point, the Alsek is more than a mile wide with several braided channels. Continuing on from the confluence, we stop to hike on Walker Glacier and spend a day rowing among the icebergs on Alsek Lake before arriving at our Dry Bay take-out. The expedition originates in Haines, Alaska, and ends at Dry Bay with a bush flight to Yakutat, Alaska, followed by a commercial airline flight to Juneau.
Speak With An Alaska Rafting Expert
We’ve done our best to design a website that is informative and easy to use, but we realize you may still have some questions. If that’s the case, please call our office and get the information you need right away. Our staff is friendly and knowledgeable. They have been on all of the river trips offered by our company and can speak to you from experience. You won’t have to press a sequence of buttons, and there’s even a good chance one of our owners will answer the phone directly and assist you.
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Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. We also check for messages over the weekend. Call us at (800) 253-7328
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