Tatshenshini River Rafting

Tatshenshini River, Yukon, Canada

A white water river rafting trip on the Tatshenshini River

When someone mentions Alaska, our minds usually drift to an image of snowy mountains and sled dogs pulling along a sled, with an old, bearded man, through the wilderness. However, Alaska has so much more to offer in terms of white water river rafting, and the Tatshenshini River, originating in Canada, offers a rafting journey you will not soon forget.

Your journey begins in the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park, established in 1993 after protests against mining and development in the area. The park forms a part of the Kluane-Wrangell-St Elias-Glacier Bay Tatshenshini-Alsek Parks System and, for various reasons including Southern Tutchone and Tlingit fishing villages, it is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage site. Interestingly enough, the eastern parts of the park were once home to the trade route used by the Chilkat Tribe.

You will take on the river by launching into a lake of ice floes and soon you will face grade three rapids. Surrounded by the Alaskan wilderness, you will move through the Tatshenshini Gorge. Throughout the journey you will be surrounded by mountains that rise up to 8,000 feet high and glaciers hanging from anything humanly imaginable.

Passing through mountain ranges, you will soon find yourself in the Alsek Lake where the Alsek and Grand Plateau Glaciers will have you in awe. Surrounded by icebergs in this seven-mile-wide lake, you will most certainly come to a better understanding of Alaska. After facing rapids, the calmness of the Alsek Lake will be appreciated as you float slowly through the waters towards Dry Bay, where the river drains into the Pacific Ocean.

In total, the Tatshenshini River drops 1,950 feet, beginning at Dalton Post, on to Yukon and finally ending at Dry Bay. During your journey, wildlife can also be seen, including bald eagles and grizzly bears.

Camping in the open valleys next to the river will be quite interesting, as you will be surrounded by more than 50 glaciers during your trip. You will be taken through the alpine tundra and, completely surrounded by nature, you are sure to forget about the strains of your modern, stressful lives.

This particular adventure will allow you to see the highest peaks found in North America, the St Elias Mountains. Mount Fairweather, an astonishing 15,3000 foot high, snow-topped mountain, will also be on the list of visual delights.

Trips that are guided on this river include hiking, together with white water river rafting, giving you the opportunity to explore the area you are in. The trip takes up to 11 days and the minimum age requirement for the trip is 13 years. You will face grades two and three rapids, making it a unique experience for the family, if you have a house full of teenagers.

This type of trip will usually start with your arrival in Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon. There, you will find many cultural attractions, including the SS Klondike Sternwheeler, the MacBride Museum of Yukon History, as well as the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum.

With all that it has to offer, extending your trip in this particular region of Alaska might prove to be fruitful.

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