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Thread: Nenana River trip ?? Info

  1. #1

    Default Nenana River trip ?? Info

    Thinking about doing a float on the Nenana, did the canyon run with some class 4ish, had a great time yahoo. But for a nice leisurely float how about. Starting about 18 miles up the Denali Highway from Cantwell, (about 55'33.395N x 133'34.285W) right along the road there is a good place to put into the Nenana River then it looks like a 10.5 mile float down to Bridge One at the Parks Highway. Is there any better stretch of river, this one would take you behind Reindeer Hills for a little pure wilderness time.

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    I have floated this section years ago. A3-4 hours of class I as I recall it. We did it in a little jon boat several times, while hunting caribou. We got a couple too. It was a nice float. I understand there are a number of jet boats navigating this section too, and several years back they were doing commercial tours. Not sure about now. If you hear one coming, you might want to head for one side or the other, just to stay out of their way.

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    Default Upper Nenana

    This is a nice float and I think you've got the right put-in location. A few years ago there was a DNR sign there identifying the the trip -- but it was beginning to get shot up.

    There are a few good campsites and hiking in the first few miles, and a stellar one on river right at the Brushkasna Creek mouth, with decent grayling fishing up the creek. There used to be a "jet boat safari" camp here and batches of tourists would be brought up from the highway for short visits (a snack and a mining demo), but that operation has moved downstream by a couple of miles onto Native land (river left). DNR management may have precipitated that by requiring a lease for the Brushkasna site -- but I only heard that second hand. You will likely see jet boats (they have at least three or four, last time I floated by) if you drift that lower reach in the middle of the day. The operators don't see a ton of float traffic and may not be looking for you, so its good advice to get out of there way when you hear them. I've always had plenty of room and they've been friendly, but there are a couple of braids down low where it could get tight (if the jet boats and you chose the same channel).

    I think Jim is right, it's only about a 4 or so hour float down to the highway, especially when the water is high (mid-summer, or if its been wet). Later in the fall if it gets cold but hasn't been wet, flows can be low and it can be slower. Upstream winds are also common as you get close to the highway. Once you turn the corner and get past Panorama Mtn, it seems to abate some till you hit the gorge.

    We used to link this with longer trips down to the park entrance and through the gorge. The whitewater picks up as you go (but stays easier than Class III until you get below the Yanert). You can dump little kids or people who didn't want to get wet before the gorge. There are a couple of nice camps on islands between the highway and McKinley Village, and they are still there, but development of bluff top cabins has increased over the past 20 years, so its no longer so private (hard to find some place that is out of sight and sound of the road or those houses).

    Best time to go is probably early September (if there is a break in the low fronts), with good blueberries, clearer water, and less jet boats (they seem to really slow down after labor day. Best hiking is early in the trip, so don't hurry downstream. As you get close to the highway, its all thick forest.
    Last edited by Doug Whittaker; 07-23-2009 at 10:36. Reason: mistakenly wrote Yentna when I meant Yanert

  4. #4

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    Doug, is the grayling fishing in the bruskana the only fishing opportunity on this float? I too am thinking of running this in a week or so with some out of state visitors, but I want to give them a good shot at catching a few fish as well as enjoying the float. Thanks, abel6wt

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    Default Grayling on Upper Nenana

    There may be another trib or two with some fish in it, but I think the Brushkasna is the only one of size. The Nenana is glacial and I've never heard anyone fishing it this time of year (it does clear up enough in late fall though, and may have some chum or silvers in it -- though they would be ripe by then).

    I've heard that some people put-in higher on the Denail Hwy on Brushkana Creek (its about 10 miles further up the highway; there is a BLM campground there) which runs into the Nenana (there may be another trib involved too). However, I think that has a little more busy whitewater (perhaps approaching Class III?) and is often too low for larger rafts (which is what I've got) except after the initial melt in early summer or a good storm. It probably has some grayling too (at least away from the campground), but I don't have personal knowledge of that.

  6. #6

    Default Grayling

    We stayed in that camp ground about 10 miles farther up and did catch a nice snack of grayling. It looked like a small raft like mine could run it, but it's not very deep or wide, which is cool. The DNR sign is still there, yup. We hung out at the bridge for a while and none of the jets went up stream but that don't mean they don't.
    There was some more take outs farther down along the highway. From the Denali Village down was a super fun ride, we had a free trip with Denali Raft, good guide and fun semi exciting ride. He seen I had a raft in the truck so he let me row the way bigger raft for a bit. 8 peeps + guide. I think I could do the gourge in my 14'Cataraft, coulpe hairy ones but stay out of them and bingo.
    Short but fun trip that little jog might be.

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    Has any one floated Healy to Nenana? I have been looking at that one for some time but have never made the plunge i know there are several good tribs along that route and are very hard to get to off the water....
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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  8. #8

    Default Guide said

    When we did the Canyon the guide they took out at the plant and said it was 65 miles of class 1, slow and super easy. No never done it so I asked him. (hope 65 is right) I got a very good memory but it is sort of short!

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