Alsek River Itinerary

]Wilderness Adventures in British Columbia & Yukon since 1988

The Alsek has long been regarded as one of the top ten scenic rivers in the world. The conservation efforts to save this river system are considered one of the greatest success stories of the North American environmental movement, having resulted in the protection of a wilderness area spanning over 22 million hectares. Fed by the massive glaciers of the St. Elias range, this river system spans separate valleys. Our journey will take us through alpine tundra, towering mountains, unparalleled wildlife populations and extraordinary bio-diversity, with ecosystems ranging from sea level to 15,000 feet.

Participant Level
Our expedition rafts accommodate beginners. Experienced paddlers and beginners are welcome to participate by paddling. The guides are able to navigate by oars, so paddling is optional most of the time.

British Columbia has the most stringent guide licensing regulations in the world! Our guides are highly trained and certified in advanced Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness First Aid. They are very experienced in the outdoors and well versed in dealing with the unexpected. You will receive an orientation to safe rafting and expedition practices on the first day & learn all the basic skills that you’ll require to enjoy the trip safely. You will be supplied with a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) that you are required to wear whenever we are on the river.

Camping Practices: The guides do most of the work of setting up and taking down the camp, but all help is appreciated and travelers should be prepared for group living in an outdoor environment. We are committed to the “leave-no-trace” style of camping; so all our equipment comes with us on the rafts from one camp to the next.

Wildlife: The Alsek is renowned for its undisturbed and diverse wildlife populations. While we will attempt to find environments conducive to wildlife viewing, we must remember that we are visitors and look to not disturbing, pursuing, or harassing them.

Rafts: 18’ long, state-of-the-art self-bailing rafts. These four-to six-person rafts are oared by your guides who are assisted by paddling where required, but for most of the time travelers can just sit back and soak up the views.

Weather: In the North, the weather can roll in quickly and fiercely. There are days when we are completely surrounded by ice fields and glaciers, and the temperatures, combined with wind factors can be chilling. Your trip will likely expose you to every combination of weather imaginable. Following our recommended clothing list should ensure that you remain comfortable in sunny stretches and downpours alike.

In July, average daytime temperatures are 69F/21C and evenings 54F/12C


  • Food: All meals while on the river, including snacks and beverages.
  • Arrival in Departure City: You should be here at least one day before Day 1.
  • Total Rafting Distance:  ~ 265 km – 165 miles.
Day 0: 

Arrival in Whitehorse, at least one day before Day 1. Evening meeting with guides for last minute orientation and dispensing of dry bags.

Day 1: Haines Junction (0 km) to Serpentine Creek (19 km)

Make our way to Haines Junction and onto Serpentine Creek.

Day 2 – 6: Kaskawulsh River confluence (27 km) to Lowell Lake (65 km)

The Dezadeash River quickly drains into the Kaskuwalsh River after the Serpentine Creek put-in to become the Alsek. This reach is much wider, but still has no current and high winds. The remaining 38 km has several class II-III wave trains, and Lowell Lake marks the end of this section. Next to this stunning iceberg speckled lake is Goatherd Mountain, atop which is a great vantage point of the 65 km long Lowell Glacier and Mt Kennedy (4250 m).

Day 6 – 9: Lowell Lake to Turnback Canyon (135 km)

The biggest rapids of the trip besides Turnback Canyon are on this section. ‘Sam’s Drop’ (75 km) and ‘Lava North’ (79 km) are the two rapids of note (Class IV) that are both easy to scout. Grizzly encounters are common at these places, so scouting in groups, making noise, and keeping vigilant watch will help deter any run-ins.

You’ll arrive back in Whitehorse and we’ll take you to your hotel. We’ll get together for our farewell dinner.

Why stop at Turnback Canyon?
Turnback Canyon has a wild and rugged feel to it. On one side is 2079 m Mount Blackadar, on the other side is the 11 km long terminal end of the Tweedsmuir Glacier, and within it lies some of the most committing big-water class V+ on the planet. Narrow and dangerous!

Level of Activity:
Rafting – We spend three to five hours on the water on rafting days, mostly on class I or II rapids – a gentle, bobbing current. We will encounter a stretches of class III/IV rapids.

Hiking – We can walk daily near our campsites exploring the local flora and fauna, or stopping on the river to check out points of interest. 

What is included in the cost
• Expert certified river guides
• State-of-the-art expedition equipment including an all-season tent (shared between 2 guests), sleeping bag, Thermarest air mattress, safety equipment and waterproof bags for your personal belongings
• All on-trip meals and beverages, including a selection of vintage wines, spirits, local and imported beers, non-alcoholic drinks and fresh water
• All necessary park permits and entrance fees
• Detailed maps, field scope, and a library of regional books.
• All transfers between Whitehorse, YT. and the river.

What is excluded in the cost
• Travel to Whitehorse
• Airport Transfers
• Accommodation in Whitehorse
• Personal Gear as listed on our packing info
• Any gratuities

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