Rafting the Alsek River

Overview

Ride 160 miles down the Alsek River, through the largest contiguous protected wilderness in the world. Raft Class II-Class IV rapids watching glaciers calve into the water and spotting spectacular wildlife. Camp riverside and enjoy delicious meals while listening to river lore around the campfire. Take a helicopter portage over a risky stretch of river, and float past dense canyon forests. With raw nature on display at every bend, this is a unique pilgrimage for thrill-seekers, through one of the earth's last great frontiers.

  • Float past the largest icebergs in all of Glacier Bay National Park and raft Class II-IV rapids
  • Take an exciting helicopter portage for a bird's-eye of the Alsek's treacherous Turn Back Canyon
  • Enjoy meals and legends told around crackling campfire each night, beneath star-studded Alaskan skies
  • Arrive: Haines, Alaska
  • Depart: Yakutat, Alaska
  • Duration: 13 Days
  • Group Size: 6-12 Guests
  • Minimum Age: 16 Years Old

Itinerary

  • Day01

    Arrive in Haines, Alaska

    Arrive in Haines, Alaska by 3:30pm to have enough time to check in and clean up for the 5pm pre-trip meeting and welcome dinner at the Halsingland Hotel.

  • Day02

    Travel to Haines Junction in Yukon Territory, Canada

    After breakfast, board a van for a beautiful drive up the Chilkat River Valley, and on to Haines Junction in Yukon Territory, Canada. En route stop at the Kluane National Park visitor center to learn about this vast wilderness. After lunch, drive to the put-in point on the Dezadeash River. (You may choose to hike part of the way.) Begin floating down the Dezadeash to the confluence with the Kaskawulsh River, where the Alsek River begins. (If it's very windy, the river trip may begin the next morning.)

  • Day03

    Raft the Mighty Alsek

    Continue downstream on the Alsek, passing through mostly Class II rapids and spectacular scenery of large bedrock islands. There may be time to hike into the heights above the river for panoramic views. Float further into the wilderness and camp near the Lowell Glacier, part of the vast St. Elias icefields. The river flows into Lake Lowell, formed by the terminal moraine of the glacier; camp on that moraine for a striking view of the glacier.

  • Day04

    Raft Across Lowell Lake & The Lowell Glacier

    If the winds are calm, we make our way across Lowell Lake to where the Lowell Glacier ends. The lake is teeming with icebergs that have calved and fallen off the glacier on the other end of the lake. It's a spectacular sight to raft through these glacier chunks, and listen and watch the glacier's movement through the night.

  • Day05

    Navigate the Icebergs of the Lowell Glacier

    Launch the rafts into the river and navigate through the icebergs at the snout of the Lowell Glacier. Take in this surreal scene as the icebergs calve off the glacier and float in this lake-like section of the river. The river picks up speed dramatically as it begins to cut through narrower canyons and increase in volume.

  • Day06

    Run the Rapids of the Challenging "Lava North"

    Take easy routes through some of the rapids; by mid-afternoon, though, encounter "Lava North," a challenging section of Class IV whitewater that's fun and thrilling. Our guides will scout the rapid beforehand and determine the best route through.

  • Day07

    Discover the Luminous Turn Back Canyon

    For the next few days the water is swift with continuous small rapids as the river cuts through the Alsek Range. Watch the scenery and look out for wildlife such as grizzly bear, moose, wolf, muskrat, wolverine, mink, snowshoe rabbit, hoary marmot, and Alaska red fox, along with numerous bird species. Reach the Tweedsmuir Glacier with its Turn Back Canyon, filled with sharp drops and horrendous currents.

  • Day08

    Helicopter Ride Over Turn Back Canyon

    Prepare the gear for transport, and board a helicopter for a short flight to the gravel flats south of the canyon. From the chopper see every hairpin turn and the churning water crashing into the canyon walls. The scenery changes on the other side - the river is wider, there are numerous braided channels and more vegetation, and bald eagles perch along the mossy cliffs of the Icefield and Noisy Ranges. Relaunch the rafts and drift through the wide valley towards the majestic confluence of the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers.

  • Day09

    Continue Down the Tatshenshini River

    Continue down the river through deep forested canyons toward the coast. On the southern horizon, a dozen glaciers flow down from the Fairweather Range, while the Alsek disappears back to the north and east into the symmetrical peaks and waterfalls of the Noisy Range. To the west, the main channel of the Alsek flows into the Fairweather Range, where it seems to sink into the forest. The river below its confluence with the Tatshenshini is a vast, gravel flat, braided with channels and ringed with willow, birch, and alder forests.

  • Day10

    Pass the Walker Glacier

    Closer to the Gulf of Alaska, the climate becomes more maritime and the glaciers more numerous. Farther down the river, pass the Walker Glacier, which has sprawled down its valley and is visible from the river. Its blue and white shape dominates the view for quite some time.

  • Day11

    Float Towards Alsek Lake

    Continue to float towards Alsek Lake, spotting many species of birds, including bald eagles, semi-palmated plovers, spotted sandpipers, northern phalaropes, American pipits, and more.

  • Day12

    Paddle Among Sculpted Ice Flows of Alsek Lake

    Watch and listen as giant chunks of ice calve into the water from the 7-mile face of the Alsek glacier. Some icebergs are 75-feet high, indicating a depth below the surface at least twice as great. The guides will row among ice floes sculpted into bizarre, fluted, ever-changing phantasmagoric shapes - a veritable "iceberg garden."

  • Day13

    Depart from Dry Bay by Bush Plane

    After floating into the flat, forested plains beyond Alsek Bay, arrive at the Dry Bay Fishing Company outpost along the estuary of the Alsek River. Board a small aircraft for a spectacular charter flight to Yakutat in time for the scheduled Alaskan Airlines service to Juneau (the trip is tailored around this flight, and Juneau is your gateway city to other destinations).

    • Activity: 4 hours/15 miles on Class II rapids
    • Transportation: 1-hour charter flight
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Want to extend your adventure?
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Upcoming Departures

  • AvailableJul 01 - 13, 2019
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From: $4,995.00 What's Included?
13 Days
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Tanya Rao

MT Sobek Regional Specialist

1.888.831.7526CallEmail

Rafting the Alsek River Map

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Why take this trip with us?

Reason #01

Praised by National Geographic Adventure, this expedition is guided by Alaska's adventure pioneers since 1972.

Reason #02

This thrilling adventure is watched over by the most capable and experienced guides on the river.

Reason #03

Riverside camping features tasty meals and tales told by seasoned guides around a crackling campfire beneath the stars.

Meet Our Guides

Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.

What To Expect

  • Activities

    Spectacular Class II-IV rafting along the mighty Alsek River, extraordinary wildlife spotting, and riverside camping.

  • Lodging

    After the first evening in a Victorian-era style hotel, MT Sobek riverside camps, with meals served around the campfire beneath the stars.

  • Climate

    Enjoy long Alaska days, with potential rain & chilly winds near glaciers. Daytime 55°-65°F. Evenings 40°-55°F.

FAQ

  • Will I need a passport?

    We are making a border crossing into Canada, so you will need a passport as proof of nationality. Please check visa requirements for entering Canada if you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen.

  • What is the difference between this trip and the 16-day Alsek River Rafting trip?

    This trip is 3 days shorter and is without extended hiking opportunities. We will move camp almost every day, but there are still opportunities to take optional day hikes from camp.

  • What if I do not have a sleeping bag or tent that will withstand Alaska weather?

    MT Sobek provides synthetic sleeping bags, sleeping pads and expedition tents at no extra cost. We also provide rain gear, dry suits, and boots.

  • How does this trip compare to other long river trips, such as the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River?

    The Alsek River is deep in the heart of the largest wilderness area in the world, and there are less than 200 people who raft this river annually. This is more of an expedition trip due to its remote wilderness.

  • What if it is rainy on the trip? Will be still be hiking and rafting each day?

    Not necessarily. We can make adjustments to our itinerary if the weather is not cooperating. This means sleeping in, delaying departure from camp, or other adjustments. We carry a large group tarp with us that allows for rain shelter and our tents are expedition quality.

  • I've never been river rafting before. Is this trip too much for me?

    Prior rafting experience is not essential. However, this trip is an expedition with wilderness camping, so being an active participant willing to be caught in variable weather with a positive attitude is a must.

Dates & Pricing

Pricing Dates

Scheduled Dates

  • Available
    Jul 01 - 13, 2019
    Confirmed Departure

Customize Your Trip

Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!

Book This Trip Customize A Trip
2019
$4,995.00 Price per person

Additional Cost

  • $250.00 Single Supplement
  • $20.00 Alaska Borough Tax
  • $24.00 Optional Alaska Donation

Special Offer

Price Includes

  • Expert leadership from experienced adventure guides
  • Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • Meals as noted in the daily itinerary
  • Potable water and snacks throughout
  • 1 glass of wine or beer at dinner
  • All tips and gratuities for support staff with the exception of your lead adventure guide(s)
  • All necessary specialty gear for camping and rafting and foul weather gear
  • All group entrance fees, activities, and ground transportation
  • Arrival and departure day group airport transfers

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare, any airport taxes, or excess baggage charges
  • Breakfast on Day 2
  • Optional tips to your lead adventure guides
  • Personal expenses such as medical immunizations, phone calls, laundry, or souvenirs
  • Airport transfers if arriving outside of the group transfer
  • Optional travel protection

Testimonials

  • "The Alsek River expedition was a transformative experience!"

    John D.

    MT Sobek Guest, Rafting & Hiking the Alsek River

  • "The Alsek is so unique and special. It is truly wild and untouched. I am so happy that I could be in that wonderful place."

    Shirley L.

    MT Sobek Guest, Rafting & Hiking the Alsek River

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