The Tatshenshini-Alsek River trip begins in the Yukon Territory, flows through British Columbia, and ends up in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. This spellbinding river trip offers river travelers a microcosmic world view of velvety-green mosses, arctic dryas, and
fireweed to the macrocosmic universe of glistening waterfalls,
bounding tributaries, and towering three-mile-high peaks. these
rivers travel through a landscape of sheer drama.
Bald eagles soar overhead. Black and grizzly bear roam the shoreline.
Alaskan moose, mountain goat and sheep, wolf, red and gray fox,
blacktailed deer, beaver, wolverine, mink, snowshoe hare and others
thrive in this natural habitat virtually untouched by man. Flocks
of birds migrate or nest along the shore. Spotted sandpipers,
water pipits, and northern phalaropes splash and feed. Ducks and
Canadian geese imprint their profiles on the sky. Salmon inhabit
the river in great numbers.
The river begins as a large canoeing stream swiftly meandering
its way through a valley of luxuriant vegetation. As one's eyes
scan the river banks, scores of multihued wildflowers, velvety
green mosses, herbs, and berries carpet the sloping meadows which
ascend through spreads of poplar, willow, birch, greasewood and
cottonwood to dense, deep green forests of fir, spruce, hemlock
and tamarack. After this initial stretch of river, the watercourse suddenly changes into a rugged Class III+ challenging whitewater rafting experience.
Downstream of the first day's rollicking canyon, the
river broadens and moves with startling energy as it is fed by
hundreds of tributaries, bounding as rivulets, torrents, cascades,
and glistening waterfalls down the mountainsides. Far above tower
the St. Elias range; Mount Logan (6050 m), Mount St. Elias (5489
m), and Mount Fairweather (4664 m). They are among the highest
peaks of North America. Downstream of the mighty Alsek Glacier,
we gain a glimpse into the time when North America was emerging
from the Pleistocene. Chunks of ice drift like mammoth crystals,
sculpted into phantasmagoric shapes by the sun, wind, and water.
Fireweed blooms sparkle on high mountain meadows and iridescent
glaciers leading to snowy mountains slant back for miles above
this spellbinding macrocosm of ice fields, immense glaciers, ancient
rock-strewn morraines, ice floes and lofty peaks, nature reigns
supreme in beauty and magnificence. The play of light is phenomenal.
When backlit, the peaks are burnished in gold against the sky.
A whitewater rafting trip through this unspoiled, primordial world
defies description, yet imprints itself sensuously upon us as
we experience in varied states of exalted physicality the spirit
of one of Alaska's wildest and most pristinerivers. Our
Special Trips have an educational theme (natural history, Tlingit
oral narrative, Alaskan wilderness literature, and photography) and are led
by experts in their fields.
"It has been a couple of months since our journey down the Tatshenshini River but not one day has passed that I have not thought of some aspect of it. What a fabulous experience that was! I have such a great appreciation for the work that you are doing to give people like myself an opportunity to go to such a remote and awesomely magnificent place that would otherwise be completely out of grasp. I hope you keep up the good work because your are giving people a transformational experince— what a way to help make the world a better place. So, thank you, I'm glad I was there!"
— Diana Hull
1 Hometown-Haines, Alaska
Day in transit from hometown to Juneau and then onto Haines.
Day 2 Haines-Dalton Post-Arctic Dryas
After breakfast, van ride 103 miles over the coastal mountains
into the Yukon to Dalton Post. Shove off on our spirited river.
a steep slate canyon with resounding whitewater. Camp on a old
glacial flood plain with views of the Alsek Range downstream.
3 Arctic Dryas Camp to Wildflower Camp
The morning paddle takes us through rich, dense, deciduous woodlands.
The river valley widens and the mountains rise. First glaciers
are seen in the distance as we begin cutting through the Alsek
Day 4 Wildflower Camp
A layover day. We will take a long nature walk and individual
and group photographic instruction will be available. We will
then climb to a meadow of wildflowers. Some, may want to climb
to the high alpine tundra for views of unnamed peaks.
5 Wildflower Camp-The Braids
We maneuver downstream. The river's pace suddenly increases and
we remain constantly alert and responsive to the braiding of the
river channels and its mesmerizing backlit qualities. Camp "in
6 Camping in the Braids-Center of the Universe Camp
As we spin and whorl downstream, we gain glimpses of the Grand
Pacific Glacier. One can see 18 distinct glaciers during this
stretch of river. We cut through a densely overgrown canyon and
arrive at our camp in the center of immense glaciers and snow-capped
Day 7 "Center of the World Camp"
Layover day. This is one of the finest places for doing nature
photography, taking a brisk hike, or catching up with your Alaskan
8 "Center of the World Camp"-Walker Glacier
Pass the confluence of the Alsek and the Tatshenshini and continue
down to camp with with extraordinary panoramic views. We'll set
up camp at the foot of the emerald-colored Walker glacier.
up onto the glacier and peer into deep blue crevasses. In the
evening, slow-melting glaciers crackle and groan in the distance.
9 Walker Glacier-Alsek Spit
Drifting down an avenue of glaciers with nearly two dozen rivers
of ice in sight at one time, the scenery is overwhelming. Terrific
views of Mt. Fairweather and the Alsek Glacier. Camp on the "The
10-11 Alsek Lake
Rest and exploration. The wildflower fields and rock
incredible, but seem insignificant compared to the floating wonders
of the iceberg-filled bay. We'll take a river sauna and have a
12 Alsek Lake-Dry Bay-
With views of Mt. Fairweather and the Alsek Glacier, we sneak
past icebergs and head to the lush coast. We degear and board
our small planes to Yakutat. Take
a jet back to Juneau, transfer hotel, and have a farewell dinner.
Van transportation to the Juneau airport, board flights to hometown.
© 2009. All Rights Reserved. Revised Jan., 2019.
James Henry River Journeys.
For a more comprehensive trip itinerary with images and additional
information about this departure, please go to our Expanded
Itinerary and Trip Details.