- Class II-II+
- River Length
- 77 miles
- 1/2 day to 4 days
- June to September
The Chulitna River offers a great way for visitors to the Denali National Park area to break away from the crowds and experience a trip down a less traveled river.
The Chulitna River winds through Denali State Park, located southeast of its renowned bigger sister, Denali National Park and Preserve. Denali State park encompasses over 300,000 square acres of land and offers unparalleled views of Mt. McKinley (20320 feet) and Mt. Hunter (14573 feet). The Chulitna River drains the Talkeetna and Alaska Ranges, gaining momentum from tributaries along its route fed by a combination of glacial melt and snowmelt.
A popular multi-day trip upon the Chulitna River begins on its East Fork, which passes by the Parks Highway, allowing for a convenient put in. The clear waters of the East Fork of the Chulitna River wind far from civilization before spilling into the main channel of the Chulitna River.
Intermediate level whitewater on the main Chulitna River adds excitement as the waters pass through Trapper Canyon, a tight river canyon with 100+ foot high. The Chulitna River then spills into Susitna Valley and becomes scenic with sweeping vistas of Mt. McKinley, the three summits of Mt. Hunter and numerous glaciers in Denali National Park and Preserve. For the less adventurous, the West Fork of the Chulitna River can be used as an access, cutting out the Trapper Canyon stretch of the Chulitna.
For visitors with less time available or looking for a more scenic less whitewater ride, popular ½ day scenic tours of the Chulitna River are available through Denali State Park. Views of the Alaska Range dominate the skyline and Bear, Moose, Wolf, Eagle and Fox sightings are common along the Chulitna’s banks. Visitors will find the hiking in the Chulitna River system is quite good, with expansive alpine tundra to wander about in. Fishing opportunity is also is excellent on the Chulitna River, known for its annual King Salmon run.
The quaint village of Talkeetna, meaning ‘Three Rivers’ in native tongue, is where most trips down the Chulitna originate from and the take-out is just outside town. Talkeetna is a very small but well apportioned Alaskan town due to its notoriety as housing the airport most mountaineering expeditions utilize to reach the Alaska Range.
Shorter trips possible