Delta River Float
I am looking at floating the lower Delta River from around the Black Rapids area down to Delta. Depending on where you put in, a 30-50 mile float.
I have read up in the "Alaska River Guide" but I am looking for some first hand observations. It says that Black Rapids is class IV and then there are 30 miles of class III.
I kind of find that hard to belive. If that was true, it would rival the Talketna for white water, yet I have hardly heard about it.
I would be running a 14 ft Kenai Drifter and have experience running class III rivers. Portaging or scoping out a short class IV would also be very doable for our group. We have run Lake Creek, Upper Gulkana, Chulitna, Talachulitna, and Willow rivers.
Where are good put in / take out sites?
What are the river volumes like?
How easy is this river to run? (Relative question?)
Thanks for the input.
I have read that that class IV rating is solidly on the optimistic side of things. Others have rated it as class III, but I have never run it. I do know that you can put in below Black Rapids, as some boaters take out there. From the map I have it looks like you can pretty much view the rapids from the highway.
No Big Deal IMO
If the water is up and I do mean up there is some challange to running above BRG. If you put in below BRG then rocky Class II / III for some time then it braids.
Fun Float always a chance at seeing Buff, Moose, Bear, Wolves etc...... Watch the wind it can get the best of you and the dust storms get somewhat bad on the strech of river.
As always use caution it is a glaciated stream and runs cold and the weather well it is Alaska and being so close to the mountains can do just about anything at any time.
You will want a full compliment of rescue gear just in case.
Black Rapids Lodge is looking to someday run a small commercial operations on that river but without the support of Cruise West or P it is highly unlikely to happen.
Thank you for the replies.
Do you have to float all the way to Big Delta, or can you take out around Delta Junction or around the base?
Is there much motor boat trafic on the part below Black Rapids Glacier? We are thinking of floating in the fall.
I do not believe I have ever seen a motor boat below BRG and betwen me and our guides I have yet to see one from there to Delta.
I am sure there are some that use them on certain parts of the river however would be tricky at best at during normal water conditions.
Lots of people float across the river to gain access to hunting areas. If you check Google earth or a Topo you find options for take outs like Donnelly Creek campground.
You can put in right at Black Rapids, there is a gauging station there that has a pull down to the river so you can drive your drop off vehicle right to the water and have a nice flat area to prep your equipment prior to shoving off. As the others have said you can see the water conditions from the viewpoints along the highway to give you an idea of what to expect. There are plenty of areas to take out around Delta Junction you would just have to go scope the area out beforehand to pick the one you want. Good luck and enjoy the wind and dust!
Black Rapids are a Class III
I've run the river a few times and will say that the Delta's Black Rapids section is a few miles of class III... It generally stays that way at most any water levels. The couple mile whitewater section was created by a moraine deposited by the receding Black Rapids Glacier.
The ol' lodge stories are mostly folklore with the exception of the few unprepared, ill-equipped ventures that you'd hear of on just about any stretch of whitewater. In my opinion the stories have saved the river from trash.
The river is fun and not too demanding. Having said that... the very reason it has been referred to as a Class IV and up is that some floaters will underestimate the Delta's glacial flow as well as the reality of a remote section of highway.
Last time I ran it during spring break-up with an oar rigged AIRE 156E. Lots of ice, with some snow, and flour fine off-white sand. River temp was 36 degrees F --- air temp was 77 degrees F, sunny with a smoke-filling-sky-haze blowing up river... got a good sunburn, we saw big and small game, everyone had a great time, saw no one!
There are plenty of put-ins and take outs... so no worries. Parking long-term would concern me tho'.
Flows... pretty steady as she goes... Everything is scoutable... you'll get a first hand indication from the Richardson Highway. Note that a few creeks do flow into the glacial portion, so it's not a bad idea to look over different sections while shuttling or parking vehicles at put-ins/take-outs. What you may not see from the road is read and run standing waves and a holes.
Get the pass
I recommend getting the pass from the military for floating through Ft. Greely/Donnely training land. You can get the pass at any military base for Ft. Greely. Yes, that includes Ft. Richardson. I am almost sure it is called a RAP (recreational access pass). The pass is free and can be obtained at the visitors registration center on any base. Once you have your pass and a map, you call the phone number to find out if the training area is open. One point I would like to make is: impact areas are never open for access. I do not believe legally you will ever get permission from the military to enter an impact area unless you are contracted to work on the targets. So, just make sure all of the areas on the east side of the river are open for access, and that would tell you noone would currently be firing. Keep in mind, thousands of pounds of unexploded munitions are on the banks of the river. The area is off limits for a reason.
The military lobbs bullets, mortars, artillery, and 500-2000 pound bombs on targets on the delta river banks. I would not want to be on the receiving end of any of the military's firepower.
Sorry if the above information ruins your float, but I would take-out before the impact area myself.