Family Float Trip suggestions between Haines and Delta Junction
My family (5 yr old, 3 yr old, myself, and wife) are planning on road tripping from Haines to Delta Junction early to mid July for ten days. To break the trip up and get the kiddos out of the car we are looking for suggestions on a a class I-II river to raft/inflateable canoe somewhere along the way . We will not have our own raft or canoes so would need to rent from an outfitter and would prefer a 3 to 5 day float that has some fishing and nice kid friendly camp-sites. We'd probably prefer something that we could put-in on a road and take-out at a road. But a relatively cheap plane drop/pickup might work as well. Also we're not set on only going to Delta Junction I just want to make sure we get there at least so I can fly around and scope for sheep from Delta Junction one day...
Thanks for your help
I think that looking into the Tangle Lakes/Delta River float would be great for a family. It is not super long, but you could certainly make a three day trip out of it and it fits the road to road criteria with great views and decent fishing. You can pay the folks at Tangle Lakes lodge to shuttle your vehicle to the take out point and the logistics are are pretty much taken care of.
Looks like a cool float. Where is the closest raft rental business that could drop-off/pick-up the rafts? Our vehicle is not large enought to carry a raft...
Originally Posted by Brian Jackson
I think Walt (from this forum) might be able to help you out. I think his buisness is Gulkana River something...
He is a very good resource on this forum.
Your best trip is to come over the Alaska Range and do the Tangle Lakes-Delta River float, 3-4 days and a very nice trip or meet me at Paxon Lake and do the upper Gulkana River. 4-5 fun days, 1 section of class2+ water, 1 water fall (runnable) and some very good Rainbow fishing as well as Kings and Reds depending on the time of year.
Fun Trips, worth your effort and cost effective for a family!
Just some thoughts - based on my experiences with family rafting and road trips. We drove up from Florida 12 years back.
Time: ten days sound shortish maybe.
Gear: anything that keeps your family warm and dry is worth it
Quality of the experience: good raingear, warm merino baselayers and a heated tent to dry gear out in have been very helpful to keep my family willing to keep going.
If a raft is used the portage could be daunting for a couple of reasons.
First: the trail is narrow. Second: whoever put the trail in embedded it with broken chunks of granite which have razor sharp edges, and they will destroy anything which is dragged on the trail instead of carried. I dragged my plastic kayak for a few feet before I noticed strips of yellow on the rocks, so you will cary your raft. Third: you will deflate your raft to portage and will reinflate it, for the pond, then will have to re-deflate it again to go down the steep rocky hill to finish you portage.
My point: a man doing the bulk of the work for a family, little kids, whimpy wife, etc., and will be working hard. Good trip though and plenty doable for many families.
Keep in mind that the weather, and bugs can be really hard on the little ones....
It's tough to beat the upper Gulkana for good camping and good/excellent greyling fishing for the kids. The lower Gulkana is an option for a shorter and even easier trip. Bring headnets and bugdope and hopefully you will not need either.
Mark is dead on when it comes to the Delta. The Delta is one of the best road system trips and it is under floated. Once you have done the portage you will know why!
Last summer I was leading a group of 3 canoes down the delta in mid July. Not many bugs, good water and the fishing was, well... amazing. I wrote a report last summer and you and you can look it up for all of the details. On the lowest end of the lakes the Lakers were crazy good on spinners. When we hit the river it was Fly Rod time with wet leach patterns. We caught 100's of Grayling, I also hooked my wife in the face which made for some interesting conversations at dinner!
When we reached the Falls we ran into a group of 3 who were hating life because they had an Otter and we had canoes. Take my word on this one a 150 pound raft over that portage is not my idea of fun.
The Gulkana is a different story. You can run the raft empty over the falls or line it over using bow/stern ropes.
Great trips, Great fishing and a good time for the family. Most of my clients who are looking for the easy trip opt for the Gulkana but the tough ones grabs some of my canoes and head down the Tangles!
See ya on the river!
Both the Gulkana and Delta are super cool floats suitable for Alaskan families.
Walt and Mark are speaking the truth about the Delta. It has a long, arduous portage that is not too much fun with the wife and the little ones. I did it with my wife, kids (4 and 7), and a 16’ raft. Even with not portaging the raft, it was a challenging experience with my kids, and they have a lot of multiday river miles under their belts. You can definitely do it, but bring a Red Bull and be prepared to WORK. Plan something to do for the kids as you will be spending a day in the canyon. I would suggest getting the wife and kids across the pond to the other side, setting up a tent, popping a good bottle of wine for the lady, and building a fire. The kids can nap, fish, and play while you hump gear.
The Gulkana from Paxson to Sourdough is another great trip. However, it might be a little more challenging than the class I-II river you originally inquired about. Depending on your skill level, most of the river is quite easy, but if you are alone and with little kids, you need to be on your game. With that said, if you have some skills, confidence, and are prepared, go for it. The guidebook the BLM has available both online and at the put-in/take-out has great campsite descriptions and locations- planning where and when you are going to camp with the little ones is critical and cuts down on family stress.
Regardless of your decision, going rafting as a family is powerful. Your kids unplug and learn wilderness skills, and you get uninterrupted chill time with the lady from dinner to dawn.
You will have countless memories like this (Gulkana 2011).
You will also have a few of these outbursts. This is why you bring beer. (Delta 2011)
Raise those kids right and take ‘em rafting,
That's a classic pic Heg! lol
Don't worry though SE Alpine. There are waaay more good times on the river as your family will discover.
It been nearly 40 years ago that we did the Delta River. Did they change the portage trail? I remember the sharp rocks but I don't remember any pond. I do remember the sea gull attacking my wife as we approached the portage. She wasn't happy with my laughing at her attempts to hit it with her paddle.
I was on one of the many BLM crews that has done lots of work on the trail. My hitch was the summer of 97 pond included.
This is one of my favorite canoe trips, leave the raft at home and rent a canoe. Much easier and enjoyable.
If you need anything regarding the Delta we offer services up there as well.