36 Questions: Alaska Rafting, Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers

Common Questions About Alaska Rafting

Tatshenshini River and Alsek River

36 Questions Answered

One of the best things about Colorado River & Trail Expeditions is we operate rafting trips on the best rivers in the world.  Usually after someone has done one of our trips on the Colorado River or Green River on the Colorado Plateau or in the Grand Canyon they want to know what they should do next.  This often leads to a discussion about how amazing our Alaska Trips are.  Here is a rundown of the most common questions we hear.

Alaska Rafting on the Alsek River above the Walker GlacierTo Learn More About our Tatshenshini River Trips and Alsek River Trips, or to sign up for one of our trips visit our Alaska Rafting Page

#1.  What are your rafting trips in Alaska like?

  • This is obviously a broad question, but our Tatshenshini and Alsek rafting trips are as amazing as the Grand Canyon, but in a totally different environment and geographical setting.

#2.  What type of geographical settings do these rivers encounter?

  • True Wildness with some Ice Age Wilderness.  Big Rivers, tall peaks, glaciers, canyons, wooded forest, and open space.

#3.  What kind of environment do you raft in on your Alaska River Trips?

  • The Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers are based out of Haines, Alaska in Southeast Alaska.  Southeast Alaska can get a lot of rain or be sunny and clear during June, July and August.

#4.  Where does the Tatshenshini River trip start?

  • The Tatshenshini River trip starts at Dalton Post in the Yukon Territory of Canada.

#5.  Where does the Alsek River trip start?

  • The Alsek River trip starts on the Dezdeash River at Serpentine Creek in the Yukon Territory.

#6.  Where does the Tatshenshini River Trip end?

  • The Tatshenshini River trip ends at Dry Bay, Alaska.  Just a few miles from where the Alsek enters the Pacific Ocean.

#7  Where does the Alsek River Trip end?

  • The Alsek River trip ends at Dry Bay, Alaska.  Just a few miles from where the Alsek River enters the Pacific Ocean.

#8.  Do the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers end at the same point?

  • Yes,  the rivers combine about 40 miles before reaching the Dry Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

#9.  So the last part of your Tatshenshini rafting trip is the same as the last part of the Alsek rafting trip?

  • This is correct. The last 3-4 nights of both trips are the same.

#10.  Are the upper sections of the Alsek River and Tatshenshini River much different?

  • Yes they are quite a bit different.

#11.  What is the upper section of the Tatshenshini River like?

  • The Tatshenshini starts as a small, wooded river.  The first day drysuits are dawned to run a gorge of rapids through a narrow canyon.  After that the river steadily grows on its way to the confluence with the Alsek.  The scenery is exquisite and the wildness is amazing.

#12.  What is the upper section the Alsek River like?

  • The Alsek River gets big fast.  Drysuits are used for rafting through Alsek’s Lava North Rapid sometime around day 4.  The scenery is less wooded than the Tatshenshini and more open.  There are more glaciers on the upper Alsek than the Tatshenshini.  The scenery is exquisite and the wildness is amazing.

#13.  Which river trip in Alaska has a helicopter portage?

  • The Alsek River requires a helicopter portage of Turnback Canyon.

#14.  Why is the Alsek rafting trip more expensive than the Tatshenshini rafting trip?

  • Because of the Helicopter portage and the transportation logistics.

#15.  Does the Upper Alsek River or the Tatshenshini River provide a better river trip?

  • They are both as magnificent as the Grand Canyon and each other.

#16.   What are the temperatures like on Alaska Rafting Trips?

  • In the summer months they usually hover around 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit.

#17.  If it rains a lot on an Alaska River trip what do you do?

  • In this case preparation is the best answer.  Alaska rafting is more physically and mentally challenging than river trips in the southwest United States.

#18.  What if it is mostly sunny the entire trip?

  • It is not uncommon for our Grand Canyon guides to end up sunburned on an Alaska River trip.  There is very little darkness and the sun uv index can be high.  Therefore it is important to bring proper attire to protect yourself from the sun, in addition to bad weather.

#19. Why is there very little darkness on Alaska rafting trips?

  • The tilt of the Earth, the fact that the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers are located so far North, and these trips are operated in the summer.

#20.  How do you prepare for an Alaska River trip?

  • Have the right clothing, gear, and attitude.

#21.  What kind of gear does Colorado River & Trail Expeditions provide for your Alaska rafting trips on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers?

  • We provide tents, sleeping bags, other camping gear, and drysuits.

#22.  What do I need to bring on an Alaska rafting trip?

  • We will give you a detailed gear list of the items you need to bring for your Alaska Rafting trip.

#23.  How many days long is your Tatshenshini River Trip?

  • We feel like 11 days is the perfect amount of time for rafting the Tatshenshini River.

#24.  How many miles long is the Tatshenshini River Trip?

  • 132 Miles.

#25.  How many days long is your Alsek rafting trip?

  • In general we take 12 days.

#26.  How many miles long is the Alsek rafting trip?

  • 174 miles.

#27.  How many people do you take on your Alaksa rafting trips?

  • Because we were running trips before regulations were put on Tatshenshini Rafting trips, we are able to take a maximum of 25 people on one of our trips and 15 people on another.  This includes crew.

#28.  What is the whitewater like on the Tatshenshini River and Alsek River?

  • Both rivers are probably class III-IV.  There are some sections of whitewater and the rivers are really cold.  We try to mitigate the cold river by supplying drysuits for Lava North Rapid on the Alsek, and the canyon section of the Tatshenshini.

#29.  What about fishing on your Alaska rafting trips on the Tatshenshini River and Alsek River?

  • We don’t fish on our river trips because the rivers are full of glacial silt and the salmon are on their way to spawn.

#30.  Who usually goes on your Alaska rafting trips?

  • We have had individuals, couples, and groups join us on our Alaska rafting trips.  Many of our guests have travelled the Grand Canyon with us in the past.  For others, this is their first trip with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions.

#31.  You call these Alaska rafting trips, but do they actually start in Canada?

  • The Tatshenshini River trip and Alsek River trip both start in the Yukon Territory of Canada, travel through British Columbia, and end in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.

#32.  What about Kluane National Park and the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park?

  • Both rivers travel through the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.  The first couple days of the Alsek rafting trip is in Kluane National Park.

#33.  Are the Tatshenshini River and Alsek River part of an UNESCO world heritage site?

  • Yes!  Kluane, Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay, and Tatshenshini-Alsek Parks comprise an impressive complex of glaciers and high peaks.  The area is home to grizzly bears, wolverines, Dall sheep, and other wildlife.   It contains the largest non-polar ice field in the world.

#34.  What kinds of wildlife have you seen on your Alaska rafting trips?

  • Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Wolverines, Moose, Porcupine, Fox, Lynx, and Bald Eagles among others.

#35.  Where do your Alaska rafting trips meet?

  • Our trips originate at our CRATE North Warehouse in Haines, Alaska.  The night before the trip we have a pre-trip meeting and fit everyone with drysuits.

#36.  How do I sign up for one of your Alaska rafting trips?

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