- Class III-IV
- River Length
- 17 miles
- 1/2 day
- June to August
A day trip down the Matanuska River is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a day away from Anchorage or a busy vacation, experience some exciting Alaskan whitewater and get up close to an active glacier.
The Matanuska River drains the mighty toe of the Matanuska Glacier, located on the Eastern edge of the mighty Chugach Mountains. The Matanuska River’s waters are silty and cold and rapids are continuous along its length. The difficulty of the whitewater on the Matanuska River ranges from advanced-intermediate to beginner-intermediate, and there are several options for put-in that allow for a more challenging or less challenging experience.
The more advanced run, known as the Lion Head, crashes through three miles of advanced level rapids before settling into beginner-intermediate level whitewater for the remainder of the trip. The Lion Head section passes between the icy face of the Matanuska Glacier and a rock wall on the opposing side, creating constriction hydraulics with large holes and big waves.
The less advanced run, known as the Glacier Run, is beginner-intermediate in level and accesses the Matanuska River from a glacial fork bypassing the Lion Head section. Yet another alternative put-in for the Matanuska River starts on the Chickaloon River, on which visitors float two miles of beginner level whitewater before merging with the lower stretch of the Matanuska River, again bypassing the Lion Head section.
The views of the immense 27-mile long face of the Matanuska Glacier from the Matanuska River are excellent. Animals frequently seen along the banks of the Matanuska River include Moose, Eagles and Bear.
The Matanuska River is a favorite of visitors to and residents of Anchorage, its put-in located a short 1-½ hour drive from the city. Both the Matanuska River and Matanuska Glacier are located adjacent to the Glenn Highway, making access to the river area quite easy by Alaskan standards.