Rafting in Southcentral with Children
I am wondering about good rivers in southcentral for floating with small children ages 1-4. I have rafted in alaska for most of my life but now that I have a family I need to find some family friendly rivers. Any advice would be appreciated.
Hey Alic, welcome to the forum.
Originally Posted by Alic
We’ve been taking our kids on the rivers since they were little ones (now 8 and 5). I like to float a river (even the mellow ones) a couple times without kids before determining if I find it ‘family friendly’ or not for our family. Rafting with a baby can be super easy or just brutal, so I would stick to day trips and see how things go before heading out on a multiday adventure. Stretches of the Kenai, Kasilof, lower Willow, and lower Gulkana are fun and relatively safe when the flow is normal. As your kids grow older, and you guys get into a family groove, multiday trips like the East Fork of the Chulitna, Gulkana, Delta, and Lake Creek are a blast.
You stated you’ve been floating rivers for most of your life, but floating with your buddies is SO much different than floating down the river with the little ones. I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching , so here is just a random list of ideas my wife and I have used over the years to keep our trips safe:
*Always have two responsible adults with defined roles. One of you is obviously always watching the kids, both on the water and at camp.
*Buy the best PFDs for you and your kids. Always wear them.
*Teach your kids to swim.
*Buy good rain and sun gear for your kids.
*Bring along bug protection (I like the Thermacells).
*Buy the best boat and gear possible (even if you cannot afford it); you don’t want the $&!t to hit the fan because you have lousy gear. I use Sotar rafts because they are the toughest boats around.
*Get out on the water a lot without your kids so you and your gear are dialed.
*If you are camping, bring toys (beach toys are the best), books, little nets to catch bugs and minnows, snacks (candy, smores, Jiffy popcorn, etc), a BIG tent, a toilet and a toilet tent, chairs (they now have camping highchairs), etc.
Remember to be honest with your own skill set, KNOW the river you are on, run the river without kids first, plot GPS points, listen to the locals, and have fun.
Thanks for the response Josh, it is really helpful. I have ran all of those rivers except for the lower willow and lake creek. I was wondering if you could tell me were the putin's and takeouts for the lower willow and lake creek are. I was also thinking about floating the big sue from Talkeetna down to the bridge and was wondering what you thought about that, I view that float as really mellow.
As for gear i have a 16' nrs cat, but am wanting a self bailer in the near future cause i think that will be easier with the kids. Thanks again for all the advice, i will definitely pre-run the rivers and plot good pull outs on the gps.
Any part of the Big Su, south of Devil's Canyon is indeed mellow. Parts of it are fast though and there are always sweepers to watch out for. And I agree that a self bailer is a better kids boat. You can clear out a section and let them play. Hard to do that with most cat layouts.
The Kenai, Portage, sections of Big Su, for a long trip the Kennicot if you really can row and avoid the splash scaring anyone. I found it is pretty easy to avoid most of the action, very minimal risk of flipping a raft, but it's 70 miles back to Chitna.
I think the wind on a river during cloudy drizzly days is the hardest on children, fleece hats, gloves, etc cannot be overstated. When your children reach 7 or so, your little team will want to step it up a notch. America's cup makes a high flotation childs vest with a head flap, and kokatat makes a semi drysuit that is a reasonably priced, and is for kids. I resold my sons for almost what I paid, and he used it for three years.
What a time you will have, I cannot even put it into words. Watching a buddy hammer a rapid is one thing, but to see your kid do it is, well... a long story, but good one, many, many memorable times for you to reflect on. Take your time with it, they will advise you when it's time for them to step it up.
Rafting in Southcentral with Children
Glad to hear you are getting your children on the water. We have taking our girls out since they have been little ones, they are 7 and 8 now and love it. Rivers the other guys mentioned are fun, the Willow is good as you can catch fish, it's mellow and cost/time effective. The Su from Gold Creek to the Kashwitna is great for family time. Great sand bars for kid time and wonderful views on nice days. One of our favorite day trips for the kids once they get some time on the water is the Matanuska from Chickaloon to Kings river. Make a fire, have lunch and enjoy the wave trains and scenery. This is one to work the kids and yourself into. Multiple options as far as take in/take outs as well. We have done some overnighters with the kids too. Tazlina/Nelchina, Kennicot/Nezina/Chitina, East Fork Chulitna, and different sections of the Copper and Gulkana. All of these worked out great, but there are risks involved and appropriate precautions were taken. Good gear is a must, warm food options, plenty of snacks, minnow nets are great as already mentioned, fishing poles, singing songs, I spy games, the list is endless. Any specifics feel free to post. Good luck. All the time, money, and efforts are soo worth it.