- Class I-II
- River Length
- 104 miles
- 3-4 days
A multi-day trip down the Chitna River is a great way to explore the interior of Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve and spend some quality time in the wilderness of Southeastern Alaska. The spectacular Chitna River, meaning ‘Copper’ River in Ahtna Indian, flows through Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve and the majestic Chugach mountain range of Southeastern Alaska.
The Chitna River originates high in the Chugach at Logal Lake and flows seaward, picking up water from its tributaries along the way including the Kennicott and Nizina Rivers. Trips on the Chitna River originate on the splashy and wide Kennicott River at the terminus of the Kennicott Glacier or alternatively on the Nizina River which meets the Kennicott and flows through steep walled canyons and exciting whitewater. The Nizina-Kennicott then flows into the wide river valley of the Chitna River. For adventurers looking for a shorter trip, just the Nizina can be floated with a floatplane drop-off at iceberg-laden Nizina Lake and a flyout to McCarthy at the confluence of the Nizina and Chitna Rivers.
The Chitna River proper is a beautiful scenic river with no rapids and massive flows winding toward the sea. The views of the massive St. Elias Mountains dominate the skyline as glaciated peaks rise thousands of feet from river level. Visitors on the Kennicott section of the Chitna River complex will encounter splashy beginner level rapids with smaller wave trains and narrows. The Nizina River has the largest whitewater in the Chitna River complex, squeezed through tight river canyons creating beginner-intermediate level hydraulics and some smaller drops. Wildlife is abundant along the Chitna-Kennicott-Nizina Rivers with frequent sightings of Brown and Black Bear, Moose, Bison, Mountain Lion, Dall Sheep, Wolf and Eagle.
Trips on the Chitna River complex range from 3-4 days in length and involve a put-in flight to either Kennicott Lake or Nizina Lake. The take-out of the Chitna River is easily accessed when the river passes into its namesake town of Chitna, and visitors are vehicle shuttled back to Valdez.