This expedition is more than just a river trip. The Alsek trip is a 12-day, 155-mile river expedition through a truly wild part of North America. We will float through the largest non-polar ice cap in the world, through a landscape whose scenery and giant scale is unparalleled. Watch and listen to massive icebergs calving off active glaciers in this dynamic environment, evidence of the last ice age still in motion. From the magenta blooms of River Beauty to sunsets on snow-capped peaks and glacial lakes, these images will be with you for a lifetime.
“Dave, Christian and I are still mentally on the Alsek – we can’t let go of that experience yet. We each had the time of our lives. We are deeply indebted to you for showing us the Alsek, and for doing it in such a caring way – it was truly a “Class act.” Elizabeth Danish, 2012
The Upper Alsek River is an incredible journey through the largest contiguous protected park in the world. The Alsek begins in Kluane National Park in Canada’s Yukon, winds through the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Provincial Park in British Columbia, and ends in Alaska’s renowned Glacier Bay National Park. It is protected within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which encompasses all of the Parks.
Photography possibilities on the Alsek are endless. Wildlife is abundant in this protected landscape, including bears, wolves, moose, deer, Dall sheep, mountain goats, eagles and occasionally a wolverine. Wildflowers blanket the hillsides, giving this massive landscape a delicate side as well. The many side hikes on this trip are remarkable. On these walks you can discover small lakes of clear glacial water, walk on giant sand dunes, glass for wildlife, take advantage of photo opportunities, walk on a glacier, and study up on the diverse wildflowers, just to name a few. For those who’d like the challenge of hiking a peak, we offer a full day hike up Goatherd Mountain or the Nose (weather permitting).
Upper Alsek River DATE: Full Trip July 12 – July 23 Upper Portion: July 12 – July 19 Lower Portion: July 19 – July 23 RATE: 12-day Trip ~ $4600.00 per person eight-day Upper ~ $3200.00 five-day Lower ~ $2075 *All park fees are included
Included: We provide transportation from Haines to the river, a flight from Dry Bay (take-out) to Yakutat, all meals starting on lunch the first day and ending on lunch the last day, dry bags for your personal gear, and use of our sleeping bags, pads, and tents.
Not included: We do not cover the cost of travel from your originating city to Juneau, travel from Juneau to Haines, air travel from Yakutat to Juneau, alcohol, or guide gratuities.
DISCOUNTS: Charter trips are available for groups of 12 or more. This means your group has reserved the entire trip. Ask for details. Group discounts based upon the number of people in your party. Discounts are also available for seniors and children. Please contact us for details.
DEPOSIT AND RESERVATION: Reservations can be made online or by calling our office. Payment: A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. The remainder is due 45 days prior to trip departure.
After your reservation, we will promptly send you a trip packet including general information on your trip, your invoice and statement, a gear list, and medical and liability waiver forms that you will need to return to our office.
CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS: Operating quality trips is a costly operation with no margin for losses resulting from late cancellations. The space you reserve is held for you, and this may mean turning others away. Each trip is planned for the number of reserved spaces, guides scheduled, supplies bought, and rafts and vehicles assigned. If notice of cancellation is 45 days prior to departure, you may transfer to any other trip in the same season without penalty. A cancellation less than 45 days before the trip is non-refundable. Depending on circumstances, we can discuss other trip options.
Travel Insurance: We strongly recommend that you protect yourself with a short term traveler’s insurance policy. Trip cancellation will cover your losses on non-refundable air and land cost on unexpected cancellations.
Cancelled Trips: We reserve the right to cancel a trip due to insufficient reservations, weather or water conditions. In such cases, a full refund for the trip is given. If possible, we will offer an option of a different trip of comparable type.
This trip begins in Haines, Alaska and ends in Yakutat, Alaska.
BEFORE THE TRIP:
Flying: You fly commercially into Juneau, Alaska and take Wings of Alaska (907.789.0790) from Juneau to Haines. A second option to consider is taking a half-day ferry from Juneau to Haines with Alaska Marine Highway. The ferry ride is a cheaper option, but the schedule is limited.
Hotels: Make your reservations at the Halsingland Hotel (800.542.6363) in Haines for the evening before the trip and at the Frontier Suites (800.544.2250) in Juneau for the evening after your trip. Passports: US Passports are necessary when passing into Canada. Orientation: We will have an orientation at the Halsingland Hotel the night before the trip to discuss details, distribute waterproof bags, and answer any last minute questions. The next morning we’ll cross into Canada to Haines Junction, take a short drive/hike and arrive at the river in the afternoon.
AFTER THE TRIP: We will fly you from the river to Yakutat, Alaska, where you will catch your commercial flight to Juneau (only one flight per day in the evening) with Alaska Airlines. Depending on flight schedules, you will most likely need to spend the evening in Juneau and continue your trip home the next morning. Your “off river” luggage will meet you in Yakutat or Juneau depending on weather conditions.
GENERAL INFORMATION Recommended Reading: Naturalist Guide to the Tatshenshini-Alsek by Heather Hamilton. Published by the Sierra Club of Canada. Coming into the Country by John McPhee. A wonderful portrayal of frontier life in Alaska around the mid-1970s. Never Turn Back by Ron Waters. Epic account of Walt Blackadar’s first decent of Turnback Canyon. Tatshenshini River Wild, edited by Budd and Careless. Raincoat Books, Vancouver.
Day Before: Arrive in Haines, Alaska before 6 pm. Fly commercial airline to Juneau, and with Wing of Alaska (907 789-0790) to Haines. Make your reservation at the Hotel Halsingland Hotel in Haines (800 542-6363) for the night before the trip. We meet up around 6 pm the evening before to distribute dry bags, discuss trip logistics for morning departure, go over gear list if needed, and answer any last minute questions. After meeting the group usually has dinner together at the Halsingland Restaurant.
Day 1: Early on the first morning we will drive up the Chilkat River Valley to Haines Junction and Kluane Park, crossing into Canada (don’t forget your passport). While we register you can get an introduction to the natural history of the Park. We will drive as far as we can, depending on road conditions. From here, we may hike several miles through a scenic part of Kluane National Park. The length of the hike could be up to six miles, but with very lightweight packs. Four-wheel drive trucks deliver the gear to Serpentine Creek. The lead guide will give a river orientation and safety talk. Depending on the weather (especially the wind) we may camp at the put in or maybe head down river a short distance.
Day 2: We hit our first current, once we reach the confluence of the Dezadeash and Kaskawulsh, the Alsek proper. From here we enter the river’s braided channels, a common characteristic of the Alsek. Maybe we’ll explore some lakes today or even swim if the weather feels right.
Day 3: As we head down to Lowell Lake, we encounter the first rapids of the trip. Weather depending, we may set up camp on the shore of the lake. From the lake you can see three very impressive mountain peaks at the head of Lowell Glacier. Once we enter the lake, we also get our first views of icebergs and glaciers.
Day 4: Weather permitting, those that want to will hike Goatherd Mountain, a great opportunity to stretch our legs and improve views of this impressive lake and glacier. For non-hikers, this could be a relaxing day around camp with possible bathing in nearby clear lakes.
Day 5: As we leave the lake the rapids increase in size and difficulty. After some exciting rapids we will find a nice place to camp. Depending on the group, hiking could also be an option from camp.
Day 6: Today we will pass from the Yukon Territory’s Kluane National Park and enter British Columbia’s Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park camping somewhere upstream of Tweedsmuir Glacier.
Day 7: We will head downstream to our rendezvous spot with the helicopter, and possibly explore impressive upper Turnback Canyon in the afternoon. We will also prepare boats for the heli-portage.
Day 8: After breakfast we begin the heli-portage over Turnback Canyon. This is often an exciting highlight of the trip. We should finish the portage around lunchtime and head down river. We hope to camp right at the confluence of the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers, known in some mythology as the “center of the universe.”
Day 9-11: We’ll float the spectacular 30+ miles of the lower Alsek River to Dry Bay with a chance for glacier walking and other unique opportunities. Camping on the lower section of the trip offers grand views of Walker Glacier and Alsek Lake. With clear conditions, views of Mount Fairweather are breathtaking. Towering more than 15,000 ft. high, it is one of the highest coastal mountains in the world!
Day 12: It is an early morning the last day. After breakfast and a few hours on the river we arrive at Dry Bay. We provide the flight from Dry Bay to Yakutat, Alaska around lunchtime. From Yakutat, you will catch your Alaska Airlines flight back to Juneau for the evening. Depending on where you are flying, most people end up staying the night in Juneau after the trip. Make your reservations in Juneau before the trip and out of Yakutat after the trip. We will have the gear you didn’t take on the river waiting for you in Yakutat. If your bags cannot make it there, we will instead have them in Juneau. There is an option to purchase a shower at the Yakutat Lodge before your flight to Juneau.
This is the suggested gear list for this particular trip. Having the right gear is important to making it the best possible experience for you. Most of the gear listed you will have or you can use it year-round on any outdoor excursion (football games, boating, skiing, etc.) We want you to have everything you will need to be comfortable and happy.
Please: no stereos, radios, cell phones or watches
GEAR PROVIDED – we provide LIFE JACKETS, 1 large dry bag OR 2 WATERPROOF DUFFEL BAGS (one for sleeping bag, pad & ground cloth, and one for clothing), and a WATERPROOF DAY BAG for items you would like accessible during the day (dry shirt, suntan lotion, camera, etc.). Weight limit should be around 40lbs. You may use our SLEEPING BAGS, PADS, AND TENTS, or bring your own and receive a discount.
• SYNTHETIC SLEEPING BAG (WARM EVEN WHEN WET), PAD, TENT, GROUND CLOTH (for sleeping out under the stars and or spread your gear on)
• RAIN GEAR… good jacket and pants. Gortex is nice for hiking and light weather, but Rubberized raingear (Helly Hansen or comparable) is ideal for potential foul weather.
• MIDWEIGHT SHIRTS… 4 and one long sleeved.
• 2 PAIR LONG PANTS… synthetics are best
• SHORTS… 2 pair, synthetics dry faster.
• CAP TO BLOCK SUN, & WOOL HAT for cool evenings…a must for everyone. In case of wind attach with ties (chum) or shoestring.
• GLOVES OR MITTENS… synthetic or wool.
• WARM SHIRTS OR SWEATERS…wool or polar fleece (2)
• LONG UNDERWEAR… 2 pair Polypro or Capilene (not cotton) tops & bottoms.
• WARM PANTS… wool or polar fleece
• LIGHT WEIGHT PANTS… synthetics dry quickly
• WARM JACKET…synthetic piles are popular because they are warm even when damp.
FOOTWEAR:The comfort of your feet will make a big difference in your enjoyment of the trip!
• KNEE-HIGH RUBBER BOOTS with good tread. They are worn every rafting day.
• HIKING BOOTS or sturdy walking shoes …well broken in. No brand new boots, please.
• SOCKS…4 pair of wool, 2 pair light synthetic, fleece socks are also nice for wearing in camp.
• THIN LINER SOCKS…nylon or synthetic, not cotton.
• RUNNING SHOES… for around camp and short hikes.
• SUNGLASSES AND TIES FOR GLASSES…protects against glare. Pack an extra pair of prescription glasses if even if you wear contacts.
• SUNTAN LOTION…maximum strength sun block & moisture lotion.
• INSECT REPELLENT
• FLASHLIGHT…small one is fine, headlamps work great.
• WATER BOTTLE…1 liter.
MOSQUITO NETTING, head gear especially. This can be picked up in Inuvik.
• CAMERA…bring extra batteries and memory card.
• SMALL DAY OR FANNY PACK…for side excursions.
• POCKET KNIFE
• ZIPLOCK BAGS… for wet or dirty clothes
• PAPER & PEN, BOOK…. Many people enjoy writing notes about their trip.
Wilderness River Outfitters provide a MAJOR FIRST AID KIT. However, we do recommend you bring your own preferred personal medication and accessories (Advil, Tylenol, aspirin, Band-Aids, cold medicine).
Reviews from the Tatshenshini-Alsek Rivers
“Words are inadequate to describe what this experience has been like travelling the mighty Alsek River. We’ve had enough experiences for a lifetime packed into 12 days. Whatever your gig is – it’s there…geology, glaciers, enormous river flow, wildlife, wildflowers, rocks – Plus experienced, highly skilled guides, who took good care of us. All of the meals were delicious with a gourmet presentation. A super well organized, exhilarating, and fun trip! Thank you Seth! Thank you John and Keith!” Elizabeth Danish, Alsek 2012
“Just wanted to thank you again for one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on . I had an incredible time and am constantly reliving many aspects of it. Was a life-changer!” David Danish, Alsek 2012
The trip was unbelievable…spectacular and such a great group of people. Martine Saunier, Alsek 2007
Guides were at the rock star level. Richard Loney (Alsek)
This was a first time experience…it was truly a memorable one. This outcome was no accident as it reflects very careful planning and carrying out that plan in every detail. Joe, John and Seth are fully responsible for this marvelous adventure. Many Thanks! John Uharriet (Alsek)
Thanks for the wonderful experience of a lifetime. I will always remember looking out my tent door to the glacier. I can take that picture with me to the old folks home if I ever go to one and say, ”I have lived! Jackie Bowman-Childers (Alsek)
Thank you for your strong commitment to the wilderness experience. You did not cut corners. The planning, staff, equipment, supplies, and organization were top. Your family’s personal touch was very evident. Alan and Alisha Edmundson (Alsek)
The river, the scenery, the hikes… everything was much better than we even expected. It is amazing how the scenery kept getting bigger and bigger!!! We would like to thank the guides they all did a great job all the time. The trip was just the best because they were the best. Elsa & Alex Climent (TAT)
Your company puts on a first rate trip, each guide was experienced, flexible, knowledgeable, and fun; each in their own way. Obviously, you draw the best of the best to work with. Jude Rosenberg (TAT)
What an amazing trip!!!!!! Truly made spectacular with you outstanding guides. “Brent” is a fabulous natural leader, and” Art and Joe Biby “are no less than wonderful. They couldn’t have been better – kind and fun for the kids, so knowledgeable and informative for us. Sandi Fifield (TAT)
My expectations for this trip were very high, unrealistically maybe, but the trip exceeded even unrealistic expectations. I’m still blown away from the place, the people, and the whole experience. Bob Wilson (TAT)