Tangle Lakes is an unsung jewel in the mountains of the Alaska Range. Comparable to Denali National Park, but without the crowds, this 4 day canoe expedition explores the beauty and grandeur of Alaskan wilderness just a half day’s drive from Fairbanks.
Tangle Lakes lies in the central Alaska Range just south of the massive peaks of the Delta Range. The lakes lie on a high tundra plateau which divides the Yukon River watershed from the Copper River. The area was an important area for the Ahtna people as evidenced by the numerous archeological sites.
August is a special time in the Alaska Range- the mosquito season is nearing its end, blueberries, are ripe and the weather has not yet cooled in preparation for winter.
The Tangle Lakes are a series of long skinny lakes with short river sections between. At the lake outlet is a falls and rapids which we will need to portage to safely enter the Delta River which flows north from the lakes. The Delta River starts clear and small and as the river descends we re-enter the forested landscape of interior Alaska. Excepting one fast stretch near the lake outlet, the canoeing is fairly easy and instruction will be provided. There is a ½-mile portage at the lake outlet and one section which we will walk the boats down.
The river and lakes provide excellent opportunities for fishing with good populations of Grayling, Burbot and Lake Trout. Caribou, sheep, moose and even bison frequent the area in season, as do bears, wolves, foxes and a host of smaller animals and birds.
With four days to cover the around 30 miles there will be ample opportunity to explore on foot, fish, photograph or just lay about and admire the mountain scenery.
Last updated: January 23, 2020
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide at the Arctic Wild “World Headquarters” for a pre-trip meeting at 4 pm.
After loading canoes and equipment we head east down the highway from Fairbanks towards the town of Delta and the Alaska Range. After fueling up on burgers and ice cream in Delta Junction, we head into the mountains and begin craning our necks for Dall Sheep. After shuttling the pick-up vehicle and loading the canoes we head out on the lake, leaving civilization behind. We need not go far the first day and we have lots of time to practice our canoeing and to learn new strokes. After about seven miles of paddling, we will camp where glaciers have piled gravel at the lakes end making a high and dry ridge forming a peninsula sticking far into the lake with views back up the lake.
No need to pack up this morning. We will spend two nights at this spectacular location and can spend the day hiking. We can head up Sugar Loaf Mountain or cross the lake and head up into a high alpine cirque. With luck we can feast on fresh fish and blueberries for dinner.
After breakfast we load the canoes and paddle the remaining miles on the lake. When the current gets swift, we pull over and prepare to carry our boats and gear on the ½-mile portage trail. Once we get back to the river we reload the canoes and carefully descend the remaining rapids. After several more miles of fun paddling we make camp where a side creek enters the Delta and the fishing is good.
No need to hurry this morning, we have only 6 miles to paddle and the current moves us quickly. We can spend the morning hiking, fishing or telling stories around the fire. When we are ready to head back toward civilization we can paddle down the river and to the waiting vehicles.
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.
Outstanding guide service
Wholesome, delicious, and mostly-organic food
Boating and safety equipment
Camp food, kitchen, and community gear
Select rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild and included in the trip price
Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List
Gratuity for guides
Temperatures vary dramatically in the Alaska Range. Temperatures could range from 90 to 40. We will get some good hot weather and some windy cool weather, plus we should be prepared for a bit of rain. But generally it should be warm (by Alaska standards) This is the end of mosquito season. Bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle DEET repellent for forays into the woods.