Alaska, a land of majestic mountains and pristine wilderness, isn’t just for the avid hiker or wildlife enthusiast. For those craving an adrenaline rush, the Alaska offers an exhilarating experience whitewater rafting. In this article, we’ll plunge into the icy currents and explore the heart pounding adventure that awaits on Alaska’s untamed rivers.
Why Trust Us Regarding Alaska Whitewater Rafting
AlaskaExplored is THE DESTINATION for all things Alaska. Wether you’re planning an epic whitewater rafting trip in Alaska or if you’re just curious about the last frontier, we got you covered. Here at AlaskaExplored.com you’ll find expert tips, detailed guides, stunning photographs, and so much more. Together AlaskaExplored has more than twenty years of experience traveling, working, and exploring the beautifully rugged, 49th state. Working in television has taken us all around the world, and no place more than Alaska. During our time here we’ve documented countless stories from every corner and crevasse of the state. We’ve helped showcase the grandeur of this wild place for National Geographic, Discovery, Disney, Animal Planet, and more. Now we want to share our knowledge and real life experiences with you!
My Experience Whitewater Rafting in Alaska
The very first show I worked on in Alaska was a super silly MTV reality show that followed 20 something year olds who partied and did crazy stunts. That was a decade ago when I myself was a 20 something year old, partied and did crazy stunts, like whitewater rafting Alaska’s biggest rapids!
Working in television production you don’t get a lot of down time, but towards the end of my four month gig with MTV, I got a couple days off, my sister flew up, and we decided to raft Six-mile Creek. The two of us had rafted the grand canyon a few years earlier so it seemed like an obvious choice. It was blast! In the photos below you can see my overly confident dumb face sitting upfront in the purple jacket and red helmet.
Since that trip I have been working primarily in Alaska, in and around its wild rivers. I’ve shot stories for the BBC about pack rafting in Kavik, I’ve used little raft dingy’s as boat shuttles on the bearing sea, and I’ve floated up and down a many number of Alaska’s rivers on various hunts. It usually hasn’t been for pleasure, but it’s always been fun.
Table of Contents: Alaska Whitewater Rafting
Table of contents
- Why Trust Us Regarding Alaska Whitewater Rafting
- My Experience Whitewater Rafting in Alaska
- Alaska Whitewater Rafting
Alaska Whitewater Rafting
When to Go Whitewater Rafting in Alaska
Alaska’s whitewater rafting season spans from May to September, offering a spectrum of experiences. Spring brings the rush of snowmelt, creating intense rapids, while summer provides warmer temperatures for a more comfortable family friendly vibe.
As always, depending on what part of the massive state you are in, depends on conditions and availability. Some spots open as early as May, while September 15 is generally considered the close of tourist season. The vast majority of outfitters as well as other accommodations will be closed by mid September.
Where to Go Whitewater Rafting in Alaska
Alaska has some really fantastic whitewater rafting opportunities.
The Nenana River – Denali
Nestled near the entrance of Denali National Park, the Nenana River is most popular whitewater rafting river in Alaska. For more seasoned rafters or thrill seekers, the main route takes riders through canyons, standing waves, holes, and turbulent rapids ranging from Class III to Class IV. There is an alternate southern route that offers a more relaxed ride that veers away from the road and offers rafters more wildlife viewing.
Denali Raft Adventures 3+ hours for Canyon Run & Wilderness Run
Adults 12+ $130 Phone: 907-683-2234
Kenai River – Cooper Landing
The Kenai River, renowned for its turquoise waters and abundant salmon runs, offers a good mix of mellow family-friendly floats and world class fishing. My sister and I caught our first salmon on the Kenai river during the same trip we rafted six-mile Creek. Alaska whitewater rafting on Kenai isn’t as heart pounding as the Nenana, but its beauty is undeniable.
Alaska Wildland Adventures 2 hours or full day excursions available
Rates Vary Phone: 800-478-4100
Copper River – Copper Center
For a wilder more remote whitewater rafting experience in Alaska, consider the Copper Center, just about four hours from Anchorage and on the fringes of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Whether you’re seeking a serene float or craving whitewater, this area has it all. Nestled in the Copper River Basin, which borders the largest national park in North America, you’ll find a volcanic mountain ranges soaring to almost 17,000 feet, various fish species, and abundant wildlife. I used to drive through this area to get to McCarthy, I can honestly say its some of the most stunning scenery in Alaska.
Copper River Guides 3 hours
$200 per person/2 person min Phone: 907-960-0069
Six-Mile Creek – Hope
Where whitewater rafting in Alaska all began for me. Nestled near Hope, just a short drive from Anchorage, Sixmile Creek offers a some of the biggest most technical of whitewater rapids in all of Alaska. From the exhilarating Class III to the heart-pounding Class V. The rugged beauty of this locale, surrounded by towering cliffs and dense forests, sets the stage for an unforgettable rafting experience. You finish your float in the cute little town of Hope, make sure to grab a beer at the local pub. It is reason enough to make the Alaska whitewater rafting trip.
3hrs/ Class V Three Canyon Run $215
2hrs/ Class IV Two Canyon Run $139. Phone: 907-745-5753
Matanuska River – Palmer
Ideal for both novices and seasoned river runners, this trip showcases Alaska’s whitewater rafting might, coursing through the rugged landscapes nestled between the Chugach and Talkeetna mountain ranges. As you navigate the rapids, you’ll witness panoramic views of alpine beauty, with snow-capped peaks and the impressive Matanuska Glacier in sight. Predominantly back to back Class III and IV rapids, the South Fork runs parallel to the Matanuska Glacier moraine, delivering an unforgettable rafting experience.
Nova 2-3hrs $139per person Phone: 907-745-5753
Lowe River – Valdez
Embark on an exhilarating Alaska whitewater rafting journey through Keystone Canyon, Valdez’s sole land route to the Alaskan interior. The Lowe River offers an exciting mix of scenery and rapids. Venture into a narrow canyon, brace yourself for the intense waves and Class III rapids. A brief pause at Bridal Veil Falls provides a moment to marvel at the stunning waterfalls gracing Keystone Canyon’s sheer rock walls.
Pangaea Adventures 3 hours
$105 per person Phone: 907-835-84442
Other Notable Alaska Whitewater Rafting Tours
Here’s a list of some more floatable rivers in Alaska.
- Talkeetna River (Talkeetna): Known for its scenic beauty, proximity to Denali, and wildlife sightings, the Talkeetna River offers a more relaxed rafting experience with Class I and II rapids.
- Chulitna River (Talkeetna): Flowing through DENALI NATIONAL PARK, the Chulitna River provides a of calm ride without needing to paddle. Just sit back, enjoy the surrounding picturesque landscapes and let the guides do all the work.
- Chilkat River (Haines): The Chilkat River might not have any much, or any whitewater, but it does other a scenic float through a bald eagle preserve.
- Kasilof River (Soldotna): Known for its salmon fishing, the Kasilof River also provides a scenic and mellow rafting experience.
- Taiga River (Skagway): Mellow river that is often paired with a hike down the Chilkoot Trail.
Safety is paramount in Alaska’s whitewater rafting expeditions. Before embarking on your adventure, expert guides provide comprehensive safety briefings and ensure you’re equipped with top-notch gear. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rafter, these guides ensure a secure yet exhilarating journey.
Alaska Whitewater Rafting FAQ’s
Alaskan rivers offer a range of rapids, from Class I (easy) to Class V (expert), catering to various skill levels.
Yes, many rivers in Alaska provide options for beginners, including gentler floats and guided trips with experienced rafting companies.
The prime season typically runs from May to September, with varying water levels depending on the melting snow and seasonal rainfall.