In a state large enough to be divided into a million acres for every day of the year -- that's 365 million acres or nearly 600,000 square miles -- getting around can be problematic. Especially considering that all of this space is served by only 15 main roads, or roughly 15,000 highway miles. As a result, people seeking to travel here have long learned to take advantage of what's naturally available. And among the state's most widely used natural highways are its 3,000 rivers.
River rafting trips are perfect for people who like a bit of a rush with their adventure. There are many great rivers for whitewater rafting trips in the state and the difficulty levels range from slow and gentle to frothy crashing Class V whitewater.
Inxperienced paddlers will probably want to go with a guided river rafting trip. You might think you're ready for some major whitewater but bouncing off the walls of a narrow canyon or dropping into huge holes of Class IV water is not the place to discover one's limitations.
Fortunately there are lots of great Alaska river rafting outfitters and guides with lots of experience on the Alaskan rivers where they operate.
Keystone Canyon's Lowe River is only one example of the scores of rivers floated by Alaskans and visitors each summer. In just about any part of Alaska, chances are that great rivers -- and competent Alaska river rafting guides -- are available nearby. Perhaps the best part of it all is that most anyone can enjoy the thrills of white-water rafting.
In all but the most extreme waters, river rafting trips are generally safe and without age limits.
Alaska River Rafting: Some Options
Alaska rafting trips come in all forms and lengths ranging from short, swift treks of an hour or a day in rivers located close to primary population centers, to meandering weeklong river rafting trips on remote waters throughout the state. Some of the most exciting, affordable and accessible Alaska river rafting adventures are the shorter ones on such popular rivers as the Nenana in Denali National Park, Keystone Canyon near Valdez, the Matanuska and Eagle rivers north of Anchorage, Sixmile Creek on the northern Kenai Peninsula and the upper Kenai River out of Cooper Landing.
Prices for these shorter river rafting trips range from $35 per person to $70 per person. All provide life vests and, depending upon the length of the float, some even supply lunch. For remote, guided float trips lasting from three days to a week, expect to pay anywhere from $400 to more than $2,000. Prices for these longer floats include camping gear and food.
To simply see Alaska from a different perspective, perhaps a half-day spent floating the relatively gentle upper Kenai River would work best; drifting lazily through the Kenai Mountains where Dall sheep are often seen grazing in alpine meadows and possibly see moose and bears along the riverbanks. For short, wild, breathtaking rides on Class III and IV rapids, the Lowe, Nenana, Sixmile and Eagle rivers would be good choices. But these are just a few among scores of river-rafting opportunities found here.
Alaska promises something for river rafters of all types, ages and abilities.
excerpts by Ken Marsh / Anchorage Daily News