The Alaska River Guide  by Karen Jettmar

The Alaska River Guide Guide Book

by Karen Jettmar (Menasha Ridge Press)
The Alaska River Guide  by Karen Jettmar
Highly sought after by Alaska river runners, Alaska River Guide is the premier guide to Alaskan canoeing and whitewater kayaking. Karen Jettmar’s insightful narrative combined with detailed river maps, photographs, and crucial at-a-glance information provides readers with the knowledge they need to plan a successful Alaska river trip. Details such as cautions to river hazards, prime paddling season, directions to river access points, and summaries of fish and wildlife encountered round out this one-of-a-kind guide. Another quality paddling guidebook from Menasha Ridge Press.

© 2008 Karen Jettmar/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "The Alaska River Guide" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 85.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 85.

The Alagnak, known locally as the Branch River, originates in Kukaklek Lake and flows west-southwest 74 miles before entering the Kvichak River and Kvichak Bay, which then empties into Bristol Bay. The clear, rocky, and swift twin sources of the Alagnak are among Southwest Alaska's most productive sockeye and rainbow trout streams. The Alagnak has several distinctly different sections, in both difficulty and scenery.
King Salmon, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 74
The Alatna River has multiple personalities over the course of its 184-mile journey to the Koyukuk River. Rising from clear, cold lakes at the Arctic Divide in the Central Brooks Range, the Alatna flows through the Endicott Mountains, the Helpmejack Hills, and the Alatna Hills in a southeasterly direction to its confluence with the Koyukuk at Kanuti Flats. The river begins in alpine tundra where the scenery is dominated by mountains, including the Arrigetch Peaks, and descends through dense spruce forests to lowland flats dotted with lakes. The upper 25 miles of the river, from headwater lakes, is shallow, rocky, and very fast. At times, it may be too shallow to paddle and will require that you line boats down. The next 15 miles adds sweepers and small rapids, with continued shallow, swift flow. Just above Ram Creek is a short section of Class 11+ to III rapids, which can be lined or portaged. From Circle Lake, near Arrigetch Peaks, the river deepens and mellows, meandering slowly enough to allow you to thoroughly enjoy the scenery. Below Takahula Lake, the river swings into great oxbows through the boreal forest.
Allakaket, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 184
Alexander Creek is one of the most popular fishing and hunting rivers in Southcentral Alaska. From its source at Alexander Lake, Alexander Creek flows southeast about 40 miles to meet the Susitna River. The terrain around the lake is flat, and views of the Alaska Range, including Mount McKinley (Denali), are excellent. Alexander Lake Lodge lies on the south end of the lake, and a half-dozen cabins are scattered around the lakeshore. A platform at the southeast end of the lake provides a dry area for inflating rafts. Otherwise, there is little dry ground on public land near the lake's outlet. Three sites are used informally by campers on private lands around the lake.
Anchorage, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 41
Rising from the Schwatka Mountains of the Brooks Range at Nakmaktuak Pass, the Ambler River flows in a southwesterly direction for 80 miles to its confluence with the Kobuk River. Small and clear, the Ambler is a single channel for the first 15 miles from the confluence of two headwater forks, with many small rapids flowing over sharp rocks. The river passes through a narrow, constricted valley with steep mountains on the right bank. In its midsection, the forested valley broadens and the river is shallow and braided for about 35 miles before becoming a single channel once again a mile above Lake Anirak. From this point, the Ambler meanders 30 miles through a broad floodplain to its confluence with the Kobuk at the Eskimo village of Ambler. The Ambler flows almost entirely through a forested region, except for its headwaters. The best hiking opportunities exist near the upper river, a primitive, remote area that is rarely visited.
Ambler, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 80
For the highly skilled paddler, American Creek offers a brief, yet demanding whitewater float through an exceptionally pristine wilderness, as well as some of the best rambow trout and arctic char fishing in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Nestled in a narrow glacial valley among 3,500-to 4,500-foot peaks at the foot of the Aleutian Range lie jeweled alpine lakes that form the headwaters of American Creek Small mountain streams cascade into 3-mile-long Murray Lake, and a small stream about 2 miles long empties into 5-mile-long Hammersly Lake. From these crystal-clear lakes flows the equally transparent American Creek.
Bethel, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 50
From headwaters on the southern slopes of Iprugalet Mountain, the Andreafsky River and East Fork Andreafsky River traverse alpine tundra and rolling hills, then forests of spruce, as these clearwater streams flow to join as one river about 5 miles above the village of St. Marys. In contrast to the low topographic relief of the Yukon Delta wetlands, the Andreafsky and the East Fork Andreafsky offer intimate river travel through a broad range of ecosystems. The upper river segments are within designated wilderness in Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and both are National Wild and Scenic rivers.
Saint Marys, AK - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 105
For remote wilderness, solitude, wild weather, and wilder water, a float trip down the Aniakchak is very special. But don't attempt it unless you are an expert paddler, extremely self-reliant in Alaska wilderness camping, and ready for severe weather and self-rescue. Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is one of the least visited national park units in the U.S. Issuing forth from cerulean Surprise Lake in the heart of the Aniakchak Caldera, the Aniakchak is truly a wild river. After 1 quiet mile, the river quickens and plunges through The Gates, a narrow 1,200-foot-high gap in the crater, dropping an average of 70 feet per mile through frothy, rocky Class II, III, and IV turbulence for about 15 miles. Then it slows to Class I and meanders 17 miles to Aniakchak Bay.
Bethel, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 32
Beginning in the mountains northwest of lake-dotted Howard Pass, the Aniuk River flows southwesterly for 80 miles to its confluence with the Noatak River. A small clearwater stream spiked with rocky rapids, the Aniuk flows through a broad, sometimes marshy valley, with a gradient of less than 20 feet per mile. The watershed drains a thousand square miles. As an alternate starting point for a trip on the Noatak, the Aniuk traverses a rarely visited region of Noatak National Preserve. Entirely above treeline, the Aniuk begins in alpine hmdra on the south side of the Brooks Range and traverses upland to wetland tundra habitats. Opportunities for observing wildlife are outstanding, as Howard Pass is a major migratory route and the vistas are expansive.
Kotzebue, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 80
The Anvik is a little-known river outside of well-informed sport fishing circles, yet it is one of the most productive tributaries of the Yukon watershed. With few visitors and just a single sport fishing lodge along its entire length, the river offers a great wilderness float, perfect for a fishing family. There is good hiking in its upper reaches, but little hiking lower down, due to the extensive birch and spruce forests. Beginning in the rolling Nulato Hills, the Anvik River flows southerly for 141 miles, joining the Yukon River 1.5 miles below the village of Anvik. A clearwater river in the Middle Yukon region, the river flows through alpine tundra and forested hills as it winds its way down to the Yukon. Typical of south-flowing Yukon Region rivers, the upper river is clear and swift, and the lower river is slow and meandering.
Anvik, AK - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 121
Beaver Creek offers an excellent family or novice float and is one of the few road-accessible streams in Alaska designated as a Wild and Scenic River. Originating at the confluence of Bear and Champion creeks in White Mountains National Recreation Area, Beaver Creek is a shallow, moderately swift clearwater stream flowing through rolling hills and the jagged peaks of the White Mountains before slowing and meandering through the Yukon Flats to the Yukon River. The White Mountains form a dramatic backdrop for the first 127 miles.
Fairbanks, AK - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 399
A designated National Wild and Scenic River accessible by road at both the put-in and take-out, Birch Creek is an attractive float for people who would like a wild-river experience without the expense of flying into a roadless area. This is an exciting family rafting trip for experienced wilderness campers who also have boating experience or for intermediate canoeists and kayakers. From headwater creeks issuing from Mastodon Dome, Birch Creek flows swiftly through upland plateaus, forested valleys, rolling hills, and low mountains. Nearing the marshy lowlands of Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the river slows and meanders. It joins the Yukon River after flowing for 344 miles.
Fairbanks, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 126
From its origins on the Porrupine River Flats of the Yukon Territory, the Black River flows 255 miles through rolling and lowland forests of spruce, hardwoods, and willow, joining the Porrupine River about 16 miles northwest of Fort Yukon. little topographic relief presents itself, though the river has rut an ancient swath through the Yukon Flats, with munerous bluffs and high banks. The upper river flows at a moderate pace (3 to 4 miles per hour); below Salmon Fork, it slows, widens, and meanders through high bluffs. Below Chalkyitsik, the river widens and slows even more, and high banks limit the view of the surrounding forest. Overall, the river is confined and somewhat unchanging in terms of topography and vegetation. Remains of old cabins exist along the river, particularly up the shallow slough to the site of Old Salmon Village. Rich in wildlife prized for their fur, the Black River region is known as "the cradle of the lynx."
Chalkyitsik, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 260
Rising in glaciers of the Chugach Mountains, the Bremner River flows westerly for 64 miles through a coastal trough that separates the Canadian border ranges and the Pacific mountain system (the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains). The Brenmer traverses a vast, rugged wilderness of glaciated peaks and swift, turbid rivers. These barriers are formidable to the would-be explorer. The area is primitive, revealing little of its past human history, and few have penetrated it. Vegetation is influenced by both the Interior and the coast, so there is a mixture of alpine tundra, coastal forests of Sitka spruce and hemlock, and dense alder thickets. The hiking can be very difficult below the alpine zone, unless you have an affinity for alder.
Anchorage, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 93
A free-flowing stream in the heart of Alaska's largest city, Campbell Creek is a resource to treasure and protect. Many Anchorage paddlers use the creek for early season paddling practice; others enjoy the quiet paddling amidst a protected greenbelt in the city.Campbell Creek forms in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage, flowing west through the wetlands of Campbell Tract, the last large undeveloped piece of land within the Municipality of Anchorage. A small stream with a width of 7 to 12 feet, Campbell Creek is normally only 7 to 12 inches deep. Early in the season, swollen with snowmelt, the creek may be up to 3 feet deep, exceeding its banks and making sweepers even more hazardous than later in the summer. The creek meanders through a residential, office, and industrial area of South Anchorage. Campbell Lake is a great place to canoe or kayak and is a safe location to practice paddling techniques before you head out for a wilderness adventure.
Anchorage, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 6
For the advanced rafter, canoeist, or kayaker, the Charley offers many miles of whitewater challenges in a remote, seldom-visited wilderness. Known for its exceptional clarity, the Charley rises in the Tanana Hills, flowing from headwaters about 4,000 feet above sea level and descending at an average gradient of 31 feet per mile to meet the Yukon at 700 feet above sea level. With an average current of 4 to 6 miles per hour, the Charley is never dull over the course of its 88 miles and is considered to be Interior Alaska's premier whitewater river. During high water, usually late May to July, the upper two-thirds of the river is lively and challenging. High water ocrurs at breakup and during rainstorms. Water levels rise dramatically within hours. At low water levels, exposed gravel bars and boulders require vigilant maneuvering and scouting as you thread through whitewater rapids.
Circle, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 88
The Chatanika is a great river for a one-day family outing or a five-to seven-day trip. With headwaters in the rolling hills north of Fairbanks, the Chatanika River flows westsouthwest 128 miles through spruce and birch forests to its confluence with the Tolovana River. A clearwater stream, the Chatanika courses mostly through a mature U-shaped valley, with low hills surrounding the valley and with mountains in the distance. The lower river traverses Minto Flats, an area covered with many small, clear lakes. The Elliott Highway crosses the river at midpoint and the Steese Highway crosses and parallels the upper reaches of the river. State and Bureau of Land Management roadside campgrounds and waysides dot the river. The historic Fairbanks-to-Circle gold trail follows the upper Chatanika, and some cabins may be found along the river near the town of Chatanika. While not a remote wilderness trip, the Chatanika offers an excellent recreational experience, with good wildlife viewing and a bit of gold mining history.
Fairbanks, AK - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 128
Beginning in low Mountains of eastern Alaska, the Chena is a subarctic clearwater river that flows westerly for 141 miles to its confluence with the Tanana River near Fairbanks. Draining about 1,980 square miles, the Chena ruts through forested Mountains and hills and traverses muskeg and scrub thickets. The upper 100 miles of the river are generally clear, though this has not always been the case. The Chena is typical of many Alaskan subarctic rivers that in the past were polluted by gold mining activities, which have now been drastically curtailed. Unfortunately, the lower reaches of the river, particularly the lower 30 miles, are polluted by domestic and industrial wastes from Fairbanks. Still, boaters in Fairbanks love the accessibility of the Chena, which is the most popular and intensely utilized sport-fishing river in Interior Alaska.
Fairbanks, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 70
Originating in the azure waters of Twin Lakes and surrounded by peaks in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, the Chilikadrotna races west 60 miles through forested hills in western Alaska to its confluence with the Mulchatna River. At the outlet of Lower Twin Lake lie scattered boulders and some whitewater. The first 8 miles of the river are Class I to II, followed by 31 miles of continuous Class II with one Class III rapid. The riverbed is narrow and winding, and races through a forested valley where sweepers, boulders, rocky rapids, and shallows are a constant threat. On one stretch the river drops 50 feet in less than a mile. About halfway through this section, a Class III rapid appears (about 5 miles below the little Mulchatna River). Below here, the rapids subside and the river glides through lowland forest The last 21 miles are Class I to the Mulchatna River, which is also Class I.
Bethel, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 72
The Chilkat River offers a delightful, swift float through the Chilkat Valley. Glacial in origin, the Chilkat runs silty for much of the year except January through April, when its clear waters sparkle with the movement of Dolly Varden trout. The Chilkat river system drains an area of 958 miles, with tributary rivers coming off glaciers and mountain lakes in British Columbia. The Chilkat itself flows 52 miles to Chilkat Inlet. The Tsirku River, a major tributary, begins in the Takhinsha Mountains and courses 25 miles to meet the Chilkat at the village of Klukwan. Tsirku is the Tlingit name for "big salmon." If Six-mile-long Chilkat Lake feeds into the Tsirku. The Klehini River, beginning as meltwater on Mineral Mountain in British Columbia, flows 42 miles to meet the Chilkat.
Haines, AK - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 20
Boaters with good intermediate paddling skills and wilderness survival skills will find the Chitina to be an excellent wilderness trip in the heart of the nation's largest national park-- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, encompassing more than 13 million acres. Born in the St. Elias Mountains where four glaciers meet at the Canadian border, 100 miles northwest of Yakutat, these glaciers flow about 30 miles to become the terminus of the Chitina Glacier. The Chitina River begins at 2,000 feet and flows 112 miles in a profusely braided manner past spectacular mountain scenery, carving its way through a glacial valley with peaks rising more than 16,000 feet, before emptying into the Copper River. The Chitina Valley is a rift separating the Wrangell Mountains from the St Elias Mountains. One of the scenic highlights is floating past MacColl Ridge, where waterfalls cascade from steep cliffs of multicolored rock, carving deep ravines through bedrock to expose rich strata of geologic history. Hiking is excellent in the upper river, especially in the desertlike terrain surrounding the Chitina Glacier, where the river first emerges.
Chitina, AK - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 112