Alaska rafting comes in a variety of types and challenge levels that present a thrilling experience for every traveler. From scenic floating to the rougher Alaska whitewater rafting, each itinerary offers something unique. Running from just a few hours to days at a time, river rafting in Alaska can be divided up by the different landscapes, seasons, types of tours, and levels of difficulty offered by each rafting experience. Whether you’re rafting down the most challenging rapids or enjoying views of glaciers from a float trip, travelers of all types can enjoy this type of vacation in the northernmost state in America.
Alaska has always drawn adventurous travelers, and it is well known for its whitewater experiences. There are four main locations for Alaska whitewater rafting trips: Denali National Park, Sixmile River, Nenana River, and Matanuska River. The Denali rafting trips come in a few different varieties, with rafters traveling down the Nenana River. These rafting trips are well suited to beginners, with plenty of rapids in the Class I through Class III ranking.
The Matanuska River is about 75 miles long and flows through south-central Alaska, past Matanuska Glacier. There are different levels of difficulty along this river, with one stretch offering Class II and Class III rapids, while another, near a massive rock wall known as Lion Head, has Class IV and Class III rapids. There is also a popular Summer Solstice trip along the Matanuska, where you can paddle down the river under the light of the midnight sun.
Sixmile Creek, also known as Sixmile River, is best for only the most advanced rafters. The rapids here drop more than 50 feet per mile as the river descends from the Chugach Mountains, and there are three distinct canyons that offer Class IV and Class V rapids along the way. The third canyon is especially difficult, with rapids called Suckhole, Merry-Go-Round, Staircase, and Jaws, and including six rapids rated at Class V and Class IV+ on its own.
Rafting trips down the Tana River, which flows through Wrangell-St Elias National Park (the largest national park in the United States), are also popular. There is beautiful scenery here, including Bering Glacier and Malaspina Glacier, as well as the Bagley Icefield. The wildlife is almost unmatched, with bears, sheep moose, mountain goats, and even a few buffalo roaming the region. Trips down the Tana River are best suited for multi-day excursions, and aside from a rougher trip through Tana Canyon, the waters are generally quite calm, making this a great choice for families.
For a more relaxing trip through the Alaskan wild country, visitors can opt for a float, which can reach challenging heights of whitewater; however, floats are typically much more family-friendly and relaxing. Giant glaciers floating in icy waters, majestic mountains rising up towards the sky, and a varied selection of wildlife and scenery create an enchanting backdrop for these Alaska rafting vacations.
Sheer fjords, playful seals and otters, scenery of the utmost pristine conditions, and the adventure of a lifetime are all elements of Alaska rafting encounters. Whether plans include whitewaters, floating, or kayaking, river rafting in Alaska provides a unique experience like no other state in America. Being prepared for such adventures is an important part of enjoying the overall vacation while drifting through the crystal clear waters and taking in the gorgeous scenery.