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Thread: Any recent reports from Lil Nel to Tazlina ?

  1. #1

    Default Any recent reports from Lil Nel to Tazlina ?

    I cannot find my notes from my last trip. Does anybody have an approx number of hours to float from the put-in on the little Nel to Tazlina lake? Seems like it was a pretty comfortable "day".

    Any recent reports on the water levels on the Tazlina? (looks like the guage is out of service on the web site)

    FYI - We just drove over the Little Nel on the way to Gulkana & levels look good.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    I seem to remember it taking us about 2 hours to go from the put in to the big Nelchina. We would usually camp thereabouts, since driving and assembling boats would took up most of the day anyway. Then we did the run to the lake the next day in 4 hours or so. If you got an early start you could do it all in one day; I just prefer to take more short days. From there we took two days to cross the lake and run the Tazlina. But we also took a layover day on the lake at Mendeltna Creek.

    Turning a 3 day high energy paddle into a 5 day lazy float fits my preferred style.

  3. #3


    I have done the day-by-day break down you reccomended, but this time we are leaving ANC in the evening afterwork, and just plan to rig the boats, drive the shuttle & camp @ the lil Nel put-in the first "day".

    Did you happen to glance @ the Taz when you drove south to Valdez? Any impressions as to whether it was running exceptionally hi/lo?

  4. #4
    Member BrowningLeverAction's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Anchorage AK


    I just did this last weekend. I did a short writeup. The water seems a little high in the Little Nel, and about normal in the Nelchina and Tazlina, according to my buddies who have done this before.

    This was the first time I have done this river. We put in at the Glenn Hwy bridge over the Little Nelchina. The campground access road is just past the bridge on the left and leads right down to the river. The Little Nel drains the Talkeenta mountains and it was pretty rain swollen last weekend. It is pretty narrow and shallow, but not too dangerous, just annoying (especially after rain, since the water is all brown and murky). I have heard that when there hasn't been a lot of rain, it can be pretty bony and some dragging may be required. There was one sweeper about 2/3rd of the way down that we had to get out of the raft and pull aside to let the rest of us by. The river isn't big enough to really force you into anything, but it is constant dodging. We were on the Little Nel for about 3 hours and then that fed into the Nelchina, and from there on out you are looking at glacial rivers. The Nelchina was "normal" flow from what I was told, but I guess it can get kind of big if it has been hot. It is a little bumpy, probably class II for most of it. Pretty uneventful, but gorgeous. It braids out about a mile from the mouth, but the channels were easy to pick. I think we were on it about 4-5 hours before we camped, right at the mouth where it feeds into Tazlina Lake. We camped on a great beach on the right hand side about 300 yards from the lake (you can see the lake from the campsite).
    The mouth is a little tricky because of the river pushing out and the "current" on the lake shearing sideways at the river (due to wind) but some strong rowing takes you past that pretty quickly. I would have preferred to have a motor but we ended up sailing across the lake (about 9 miles). The winds continued to pick up through the day and were pushing mostly the right direction, but we had to constantly backrow to keep off the beach. My friend had an IK and a kite, and he seemed to do really well by kite-sailing. It took about 5 hours to cross the lake. The water got bigger throughout the day and we were in 4' rollers and whitecaps for awhile, although it settled down as we neared the head of the Tazlina. If you do sail, I would recommend designing a setup and rigging it before you get out on the lake, because it was too windy to do the lateen setup I was originally thinking. We ended up just throwing a tarp up against the mast and spreading it out, which was not ideal.
    There is a class II-III "v" wave train at the entrance to the Tazlina River. The Tazlina is bigger than the Nelchina and is pretty bumpy for the whole distance, anywhere from flat for short stretches to long stretches of wave trains, pourovers and reversals. Most of these are avoidable. There are a few nice little streams coming in from the sides, so there may be some fishies. According to my friends, it was a little low this time. We floated for 2-3 hours the rest of that day and then camped on the left side of the river. There are a lot of decent beaches with lots of driftwood. We floated about 7 hours the next day to the takeout. About 2 hours into that trip, there are 2 rapids right near each other, a big rock that splits a straight stretch and then House Rock, that Jim Strutz mentions in his writeup. House Rock was "not too bad" this time, but it comes up quick around a right hand bend. We went right, which was a much larger wave that looked like it wanted to push us into the wall. It wasn't too bad, though, just splashy. It looked left would have been more sedate, but I have been told the left can turn into a whirlpool sometimes that tries to push you into the rock itself. You should have time to pick a line on the fly, but not much.
    This is not a lazy float and needs almost constant attention on the oars. It is really beautiful country, though, and a lot of splashy fun without a whole lot of dangerous areas. There are beaches pretty much everywhere, and so it is relatively easy to get off the water if you need to. We were stretching it to do 3 days, though, so I think 4 is a much better idea. The take out is just south of Glennallen on the Richardson Hwy. You go over the first bridge after the junction and the parking lot is down on the left. There is a gravel trail right to the water, which leads to a backeddy right next to the road. Make sure to stay river right once you see the bridge.

  5. #5


    Excellent write-up browningLeverAction,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Tazlina

    The chart has gotten back up recently. It is expected to rise tomorow.,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

  7. #7


    We just pulled off the Tazlina Sat (7/11).

    The river is running VERY high compared to my 2 previous runs. If "house rock" section had been identified @ this level it would never have been called "house rock" The rock is almost completely submerged.

    Early identification of the blind corner leading to house rock is critical. I suggest rounding the corner; center/left center in order to make the left channel. However there is an enormus pour over with about a 3-5 foot drop if you are to far left. Skirt the edge of the pour over then use the "shelter" it provides from the current to complete your ferry into the left channel.

    We had a fabulous trip. Still one of the premier road accessable whitewater/expedition trips.


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