Alatna River

Allakaket, Alaska

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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.

Alatna River Professional Review and Guide

"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."

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Allakaket
Distance: 184
Duration: 14 days
Class: Class I-III
Season: June through September
Local Contacts: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. The Alatna is a National Wild River.
Driving Directions: Directions to Alatna River

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May 2018