- Class II-III
- River Length
- 100 miles
- 6-7 days
- Mid August to Mid September
A multi-day trip down the infamous Copper River is an amazing river adventure that is sure to be a memorable one for years to come! The Copper River flows through the Chugach and St. Elias Ranges and serves as the western boundary to Wrangell St. Elias National Park. The Copper River is fed by the massive Copper Glacier, located on the Northeastern side of Mt. Wrangell (14,163 feet), and flows for over 100 miles to its confluence with the sea at Prince William Sound.
The Copper River has a mix of whitewater and scenic water, its large volume occasionally flowing over pool drop rapids or constrictions. Rapids reach intermediate level in difficulty with waves, hydraulics and scattered holes. While floating on the Copper River, the sound of the glacial silt rings against boat hulls and raft bottoms, a constant reminder of the frigid temperatures of the water. The current of the Copper River is quite fast, averaging over seven miles an hour, facilitating the completion of a hundred mile river trip in less than a week.
The Copper River flows through thick forest, constricted river canyons and open landscapes, with sweeping views of the dramatic Chugach and St. Elias Ranges. At one point the Copper River winds past several an area of expansive desert like sand dunes, formed by deposits of glacial silt left over many years.
The Copper River flows into Miles Lake prior to its final push toward the ocean, allowing for the unique opportunity to raft amongst icebergs. The bergs calve off the active Miles Glacier right into the river. Following Miles Lake, the Copper River’s flows pick back up, passing the Childs Glacier which often splits more big chunks of ice into the river for passage to the sea.
Wildlife viewing on the Copper River is excellent, with a plethora of Bear, Moose, Mountain Goats and, surprisingly, Bison that have thrived after being transplanted to the area in the early 20th Century. Seals are often seen along the Copper River after the river passes the Childs Glacier. Additionally fishing on the Copper is world class, featuring one of the strongest Salmon fisheries in the state, boasting good populations of King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon and Silver Salmon.
Access to the Copper River is relatively easy by Alaska standards. The Copper River is accessed via vehicle ride along the Richardson Highway from Valdez to the put-in at small town of Gakona. The take-out is in the small village of Chitna, where the Copper River flows right into town and a boat ramp and road facilitate a smooth trip back to Valdez.