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. Follow it up with ocean kayaking in the most remote corner of Kenai Fjords, and we have an unrivaled two-week adventure with wildlife, glaciers, and nearly endless explorations.
Last updated: September 20, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Arrive in Juneau from New York. Lodging at the Best Western Country Lane Inn (included). Free shuttle from the airport and to the ferry the next day (907-789-5005). Transportation to Juneau and all meals on your own.
Take the Alaska Marine Highway to Haines. Arrive at the ferry terminal via hotel shuttle at 0700 for an 0800 departure. Arrive in Haines, AK at noon and we will meet you at the dock to drive you into Haines. Your pre-trip meeting will be at 5 pm at the Hotel Halsingland where you are staying. There is a Continental Breakfast at the Best Western, but Lunch and Dinner on your own. (B)
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. (L, D)
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. (B,L,D)
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. (B,L,D)
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 seemingly endless beach, over Prince William Sound and then to the town of Seward. Here you will meet your kayak guides for a preparatory meeting before retiring for the night at a local hotel. Seward Lodging included. Dinner on your own.(B,L)
Your kayak guides meet you in the morning and you load up to the water taxi for the thrilling and (hopefully) wildlife filled trip to Northwestern Fjord where the kayak trip begins. After reviewing paddling safety we will take an afternoon paddle to the glacial moraine to watch the surf break on the exposed coast. We can beachcomb for glass fishing floats and other treasures from the sea before returning to our camp at the “drop-off” beach. (L,D)
Wake up to the magnificent glacier views just outside your tent. Breakfast is waiting. Then we let the weather, tides and your desires dictate our activities. We can circumnavigate Striation Island or perhaps paddle to Cataract Cove; one of the quiet bays that emerged from the glacier in recent memory. If we choose to circumnavigate the entire bay, we will paddle about 5 hours each day with time for a picnic lunch on the way. This is some of the best kayaking in Alaska and the camping is unbelievable. At Southwest Glacier we camp across from staggering glacial cliffs that constantly erupt with ice and avalanches. It is loud, impressive, and captivating all day and all night. There are opportunities for some rugged hikes among the rocks and easier hikes on the beaches. (B,L,D)
After a leisurely breakfast we’ll break camp and go for a short kayak trip or just relax on the beach and take time to capture photographs of the awe inspiring place where the mountains fall into the sea. Our water taxi will return mid-day to take you to Granite Point Mountain Lodge for two nights. You will have the lodge to yourselves and we can stock the kitchen per your requests. This will be a beautiful and relaxing end to your trip. (Food for your days at Granite Point can be bought from the grocery store in Seward. The bulk of your food should be bought on the 31st when you are in Seward. A local expediter can buy fresh food on September 4th if you give them a grocery list. We are arranging delivery of the food to the Lodge on the 5th along with any luggage not brought on the kayak trip. There is no cook or any food provided by Granite Point Mountain Lodge.)
Spend a leisurely morning at the lodge. The water taxi will pick you up for the return trip to Seward starting at 10:30. Once in Seward you can tour the town and at 5 pm board the train bound for Anchorage. Enjoy dinner on the train and arrive around 10 pm in Anchorage. Spend the night at the Copper Whale Inn and fly back to New York the morning of September 8th. Meals and transportation to and from the Copper Whale on your own. (D)
Flights home on your own.
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.
1 night lodging in Juneau (double occupancy)
Transportation from Juneau to Haines (State Ferry)
1 night lodging in Haines (double occupancy)
Transportation to Haines Junction and then to the Alsek River
6 day Alsek Rafting Trip with Haines Rafting and Arctic Wild
Transportation from Dry Bay to Seward (air charter)
1 night lodging in Seward (double occupancy)
Transportation from Seward to Northwest Fjord (boat)
5 Day Northwestern Fjord Sea Kayak Trip with Liquid Adventures
Transportation to Granite Point Lodge (boat)
2 nights at Granite Point Mountain Lodge (see notes for Sept 5-6 regarding food and shopping)
Transportation back to Seward (boat)
Transportation via train from Seward to Anchorage
1 night lodging in Anchorage (double occupancy)
Additional lodging other than listed here
Any non-camping meals, e.g. Haines, Seward, Yakutat, or Anchorage
Taxis or other ground transport in Haines, Anchorage, etc.
Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List
Transportation to Juneau prior to the trip
Transportation from Anchorage following the trip
Groceries for Granite Point Mountain Lodge 9/5 – 9/7
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. August is the start of fall in the north. 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.