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