The Tatshenshini is a river beyond your wildest dreams. Flowing from the dry interior of the Yukon through Canada’s tallest peaks to the Pacific Ocean, everything on the trip is outsized and spectacular. From the dramatic canyons of the upper river to the ice-berg filled Alsek lake near trip’s end, each day brings a new awe-inspiring vista. This is truly one of the best rafting trips in North America.
Last updated: July 6, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Arrive in Haines, AK in time for our 5 pm pre-trip meeting. You will be staying at the Hotel Halsingland (included) where we will rendezvous for the meeting. Meals on your own.
8 am van departure up the Chilkat Valley and across the Canadian Border (You have your passport, right?) then to our put-in at Dalton Post. It is a 3 hour drive and a ½-hour walk to where we rig the rafts and push out into the current. Once on the water we paddle through the canyon before making our first spectacular camp of the trip.
Time to hike. We spend the day walking up Sediment Creek into the alpine zone. Wildflowers are everywhere and views back up towards the canyon and down the river are sublime. Keep your eyes peeled for Dall Sheep above, bears grazing in the avalanche chutes and wolves along the river below.
We paddle the Tatshenshini. The rapids are behind us but the fun has just started! Four or five hours on the river should get us to where we need to be and each camp offers a nice hike to end the day. It will be light until 11 pm, so we enjoy an abundance of time unique to high-latitudes in summer. On the night of the 13th we arrive at the confluence with the Alsek River, perhaps the most spectacular campsite on earth!
The Alsek is huge, one of the largest rivers in the largest State. Thick with glacial silt and split into a multitude of braids, it is a maze of water often merging with a grey sky. As we approach the coast, glaciers begin to dominate our views and we will plan for a layover day to hike to or on the ice.
Alsek Lake is world unto itself. At the terminous of the Alsek, and Grand Plateau glaciers the miles-long lake is filled with freshly calved icebergs, startlingly blue against the grey waters. We will paddle amongst the icebergs and listen to the active glaciers calve mountain-sized bergs into the lake before paddling across the lake and re-entering the current.
Dry Bay. From the fishing outpost of Dry Bay we catch a chartered plane to Yakutat, AK. Weather permitting you arrive in Yakutat in time for the daily Alaska Airlines jet to take you to Juneau. This flight from Yakutat to Juneau (or Anchorage) has not been included in the trip price, as many prefer to book it along with other flight legs homeward.
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).
Rain is likely; snow and frost almost impossible; sunshine intermittent. Temperatures are usually in the 50’s and 60’s. Overcast and damp conditions are common but we can also get some gloriously clear and sunny days. July has the nicest weather of the whole year, but being Southeast Alaska, “nice” might not be all that warm. Bugs should be very few. But bring a little DEET just in case.
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.