The Alsek River in Glacier Bay National Park is a river beyond your wildest dreams. From the dramatic canyons of the upper river to the iceberg-filled Alsek Lake near the end of the trip, each day brings a new awe-inspiring vista.
Last updated: October 10, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Take the Alaska Marine Highway or Alaska Seaplanes to Haines. Your pre-trip meeting will be at 5 pm at the Hotel Halsingland where you are staying.
7 am van departure up the Chilkat Valley and across the Canadian Border (you have your passport, right?). Next we board the helicopter for the mind-blowing flight to the Alsek to meet the rafts. Once we load the boats, discuss safety and get on the water we paddle for about 10 miles before making our first spectacular camp of the trip.
We paddle the Alsek, camping a night at the confluence of the Tatshenshini and then the next day exploring around Walker Glacier. Our time is split between rafting and hiking. 3 or 4 hours of paddling each day ought to get us to our next camp which leaves plenty of time to explore on foot once we get re-settled.
Alsek Lake is world unto itself. We take a layover-day at this enormous glacial lake where massive ice sheets flow off of Mount Fairweather and merge into a vast gray lake dotted with startling blue icebergs. There is a short and spectacular hike up a small mountain and paddling among the ice flows is a must-do activity if the weather cooperates.
Even if the weather is good, this will be a long day. We awake early at Alsek Lake and load the rafts for our final miles of the river in the dawn light. When we arrive at Dry Bay we meet a four-wheeler for a bumpy ride to the airstrip and then mid-day we meet the charter pilot for a flight up the Coast to Yakutat, where you can catch the evening flight on Alaska Airlines to points south.
Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless. A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.
You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed. Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails. He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.
Transportation from Haines to river’s start and from the river to Yakutat, AK at trip’s end.
Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Boats, paddles, oars, life jackets, safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
One night lodging at Hotel Hasingland in Haines the night prior to your trip (double occupancy)
Select Rental Gear is available and included
Lodging other than one night in Haines
Any non-camping meals
Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List
Gratuity for guides
Transportation to Haines prior to the trip
Transportation from Yakutat following the trip
Gratuity for guides
Rain is assured; snow and frost unlikely; sunshine intermittent. Temperatures are usually in the 40’s and 50’s. Overcast and damp conditions are common but we can also get some gloriously clear and sunny days. It could be wet, but bugs should be very few. Bring a little DEET and a lot of rain-gear.
Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss; The Land of Ocean Mists, Francis Caldwell; The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini River: Including the Upper Alsek River, Lyman, Ordonez, Speaks; Jimmy Bluefeather, Kim Heacox.