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Tatshenshini River

Basics
Class:
Class II-III
River Length
77 miles
Time:
9-12 days (includes 4-7 day section on Alsek River)
Season:
July

Description

The Tatshenshini is one of the premier whitewater rivers in North America and a must do for many avid river-runners. The ‘Tat’, as it is affectionately nicknamed, is a wilderness river with amazing mountain scenery, glaciers and icebergs, splendid wildlife viewing and pristine waters. A trip down the Tatshenshini River allows visitors an opportunity to escape civilization and experience the wilderness of the Alaskan backcountry.

The Tatshenshini River flows through one of the most remarkable mountain regions on the planet, federally protected every mile of its journey. The Tat originates high in the Yukon Territory in Kluane National Park, flows through British Columbia and into the United States where it continues through Wrangell St. Elias National Park, finally ending up in Glacier Bay National Park. The Tatshenshini River corridor is protected by Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park, an international designation that protects the watershed.

The environment on the Tatshenshini River morphs from sub-alpine forest to mountain canyon as its waters flush downstream. The Tatshenshini River quickly moves into Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve where the dramatic St. Elias Mountains jut up from the riverbed and glaciers peek from high above. The St. Elias Range, the largest coastal glaciated non-polar mountain range on earth, is bisected by the mighty Tatshenshini River is it flows towards the confluence with the Alsek River.

The rapids on the Tatshenshini River are mild but exciting, featuring riffles, rock gardens and scattered holes. The Tat has one intermediate section of whitewater with larger holes and some tricky maneuvers located close to the put-in. The waters of the Tatshenshini River are thick with glacial silt and run very cold.

Hiking, sightseeing and exploring is impeccable along the Tatshenshini River. Wildlife is abundant along the Tatshenshini River, with common sightings of Black and Grizzly Bear, Moose, Wolves, Mountain Goats and Dall Sheep.

Due to its remote location in the deep wilderness, trips on the Tatshenshini River are combined with the lower Alsek River, to which the Tatshenshini is a tributary. The Tatshenshini portion of the trip is about 4-5 days in length and the remaining trip on the Alsek is 5-7 days. The Tatshenshini River float is also is a great option for passengers wanting to float the Alsek River with less complication as this access bypasses the infamous portage (most commonly done with the aid of a helicopter) around the turbulent Class V-VI Turnback Canyon.

Once the Tatshenshini River spills into the Alsek River, passengers are pulled deeper into the St. Elias Mountains. At one point, over 28 glaciers are visible from river level. The Alsek River flows into Alsek Lake, where Alsek and Grand Plateau glaciers abut and actively calve icebergs into the lake. Skilled guides are a real plus when navigating through the lake due to the hidden hazard posed by the icebergs suddenly flipping over or obstructing channels. Alsek Lake drains into a short river section prior to hitting the take-out at Dry Bay.

Access to the Tatshenshini River is located a two hour vehicle ride North of Haines, Alaska along the Yukon Highway at Dalton Post, British Columbia. Trips on the Tatshenshini-Alsek River end at Dry Bay, a small fish canning location with an airstrip that has service to Haines via the bush community of Yukatat. The closest larger city to the river servicing flights from the continental United States is Juneau.

Tour Companies

  • Tatshenshini & Alsek Rivers - Yukon Territory
  • Rafting, Boating
  • 801-261-1789

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions - Alaska The Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers have their headwaters in the extremely wild and rugged regions of northwest British Columbia and the Yukon. We give you a chance to travel these rivers, for one of the most visually exciting river expeditions in North America. For those seeking a genuine wilderness retreat, this is the place to go!

River Details

Class:
Class II-III
River Length
77 miles
157 when combined with Alsek River
Time
9-12 days (includes 4-7 day section on Alsek River)
Season:
July
Nearest Town
Haines
Guides Available?
No

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