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Thread: Custom trip in alaska for Swiss guys... Suggestions ?

  1. #1
    New member
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    Dec 2009

    Default Custom trip in alaska for Swiss guys... Suggestions ?

    Hey everyone.

    Glad to join you in here... After several hours spent searching on the internet about our future trip in alska, I might admit, I'm a bit tired about not finding the informations we need.

    The quest is simple, however...

    We're five young guys from Switzerland. (25 Y.O average) and we desperately want to spend our next vacation over there in Alaska.

    The idea is to land in Anchorage, to take an air taxi with all the gear we need (rented rafts and personnal gear and equipment...), to go downstream on an alaskian river for some miles and miles, days and days and to reach a special spot where the air taxi could meet us and bring us back to anchorage to flight back to switzerland.

    I've seen good deals about renting on, and good deals about flying with No problem about that.

    Our main issue now is to find a great river close enough to anchorage to make our dream come true...

    Impossible to find some indications about the rivers we should choose. Impossible to find someone here in Switzerland to help us out...

    So I'm trying here, as you guys seem to be pretty aware about what we should do !

    Can someone please help us with our trip ? Wich river would be good enough for that very special trip ?

    Did anyone already made a trip like that before ?

    I must mention, we're not really rookies, as we spent a month in british columbia two years ago doing a very special trip like that. Even though British Columbia ain't nothing like Alaska !

    Anyway, we just need to find a river and the certainty that we could do it our way, without any guide. Just by ourself...

    danattherock, someone on a french forum recommended you as a specialist to help us with that case. So I beg your advices ! Please !!!

    Thank's and take care !

  2. #2


    You might want to drop down a couple of lines and repost in "Rafting". Good luck!

  3. #3
    New member
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    Apr 2006

    Thumbs up Custom River Float Trips

    Great river trips throughout our State.

    Nearly Countless... when it comes to choices.

    Depends on defining what sort of 'adventure for days & days' you are looking for... Fishing, whitewater, wildlife watching like bear viewing, photography, etc. and budget for where plus how long?

    Have served many, many Swiss visitors over the years mostly in the 1980s and 1990s interested in King Salmon fishing. Peter Hassig (competition casting champion of Switzerland) was on many float trips all over the State. By the 2000s economies with exchange rates had changed, fewer take home fish catch was set into law, subsequently not as many Swiss would make the fly-in float trips.

    This year with USA economy down, I am once again having people from several countries in Europe already booked - for example: Sweden group on a remote river fly-out and raft package rental for 12 days and French family for a week of rafting. Most are self-guided, do-it-yourself rafting trips and rentals sounding much like your trip plans.

    If you might tell us, PM, or email folks on here a little more regarding kind of river trips and time you plan to be in Alaska... I am certain you will receive some good info. Alaska is about right timing, right location, with right people/info to point or get you there.

  4. #4
    Member bgauthierfamily's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    willow- houston line

    Default 1 of 100

    i have a neighbor that said he's canoed from the yukon to alaska, said he was 1of 100 who's done it finishing into the little susitna river , although most locals i've known are people that have only gone on the typical 5 day trip on down to the burma rd. landing point. starting at a northern point somewhere around shurach rd i think? best of luck!

  5. #5

    Default Alaska Trip

    First the good news. You won't need a highway pass. When I was in Switzerland, I had to dodge the cops for days. I drove over from Munich with no highway sticker.

    As far as a raft trip, you might jump on Google and look up Rust's Flying Service. You could contact them and see what trips they offer. They have perhaps the largest fleet of float planes on Lake Hood.

    After you get some suggestions from the Air Taxis, get back on the forums and ask opinions.

    I won't put the bad mouth on a company by name, but I know of another Air Taxi who dropped off rafters on a river they knew was almost dry. The poor guys had to drag their raft for 20 miles. The point is, beware, and get as current information as you can.

    The trip you seek is available in Alaska. Just try to get current information, and work with established companies.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
    Member AKbarehunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Don't forget

    When you are making your packing list the first two items that must be at the very top are Bear Spray and Ben's 100% DEET bug dope. You might just get away with not having bear spray, but do not attempt without bug dope!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    I assume, since this is in the Canoe forum, you plan on doing this in canoes. Are you guys all comfortable in class II or III whitewater, or do you prefer a flat water river. Another option would be rafts, which would open up a different set of rivers to choose from.

    Few rivers close to Anchorage are very long, and the river systems that are long, are generally a long way from Anchorage.

    The Yukon would certainly be doable, and has been done many times in canoes, kayaks & rafts, as well as power boats. You could choose any section you wanted, but it would not be a totally wilderness experience. You will pass several native villages, and will undoubtedly be passed by power boats occasionally, especially on the lower half of the river. If you start up high at Eagle and work your way down to the bridge on the Dalton Hwy, you wouldn't need an air taxi, and you wouldn't run into many people either. Easy flat water though.

    Another option is the Fortymile River from Joseph Airstrip into Canada, then on the Yukon to Eagle. There at least one place you will have to portage, and a few others you might want to line canoes. Figure on a solid 10 day trip, plus travel time getting there. The problem with both the upper Yukon and Fortymile is that Eagle about 500 road miles from Anchorage and only a little less by air.

    Another option could be the Wood-Tickchick State Park. You could paddle the length of the lakes and then drift the connecting rivers. There's a long string of them. Not many people out there. A little closer to Anchorage, and you could arrange for air pickup just about anywhere. More info here:

    My personal favorite is the Nizina, Chitina and Copper rivers all strung together in a 10-12 day float. Ultima Thule Lodge will fly you out there in a Turbo Otter, but it will not be cheap. You could have him pick you up at the end or take the ferry back from Cordova at the end of the Copper. There are some logistics to work out with that idea, but I have outlined some options here: There's info on the Chitina on that site as well. However, unless you are all really good in canoes, I would opt for rafts instead.

  8. #8
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006



    Glad you found the Outdoorsdirectory. There is no greater resource for information on Alaska. Tons of knowledgable folks frequent this site. Most are residents of Alaska, and some like me, just savvy tourists. I did however live in NW Alaska for two years and make a few trips up to Alaska each year, but a tourist at any rate. My wife and I take remote float trips each year in Alaska and that is the high point of our year. Just no better way to see the "real" Alaska in my opinion. The further you get from Anchorage, the better off you are to my way of thinking. For this reason, consider a flight from Anchorage to Dillingham, Bethel, Kotzebue, Arctic Village, Ft Yukon, etc.. Then from there, take a bush plane out to a remote locale. Float a predetermined stretch of river, camp, enjoy the land, and be picked up at a specific gravel bar by the bush plane and flown back to the town your trip originated from. Then a room for the night perhaps, a shower, a meal or two, and fly back to Anchorage with Alaska Air. Your head full of thought as you absorb all you have just seen. Flipping through pictures on your digital camera with your buddies on the plane. This is a good time to start planning next years float trip.

    There are some questions you need to answer about your goals for the float trip. Without these questions answered, it would be impossible for anyone to give you meaningful recommendations. Send me a private message if you choose. To do so, click on my name, then send private message.

    What is trip timing?

    What is length of trip (river days)?

    How many folks going?

    Rafting or canoeing skills? What class (II, III, etc..) are you comfortable on?

    Any particular area of the state you are most interested in?

    What are priorities? (Fishing, photography/scenery, wildlife, hiking, etc...)

    If fishing is a goal, spin or flyfishing? Any species of interest? Trip timing is crucial here.

    For float trips in general, get Mike Strahans (forum owner) "Float Hunting Alaska" and Karen Jettmars "Alaska River Guide". Both are great books for anyone taking float trips. Forget that it says hunting, Mike's book is a valuable resource for anyone floating Alaska rivers. And Don Crane has a book "Float trips in Alaska" or similar. It will tell you all the basics and is a decent resource for a first time float tripper. I greatly enjoyed "Expedition Canoeing" by Cliff Jacobson. A Canadian who takes extended float trips up that way. He has some great insights and put out a good book. A new version is out recently I think. Great book.

    As for float trips in Alaska, always happy to talk with you about this. A passion of mine for sure. June-Sept is the best fishing and the part of the state and species will dictate beyond that of course. We have done several float trips and I have as many fully planned out and ready to take. Just need more time and money. Only taking one float trip a year now, but hoping to do two a year on some years in the future. My "to do" list is growing faster than I am taking the trips. Below I will give some general timing insights on float trips in Alaska. Of course, the possibilities are much, much, greater than these, but this is what I know to be fact. Some trips below are fishing trips, some are for scenery, hiking, solitude, wildlife, or a combination of all. But all great trips. Unfortunately, there is often a trade off when choosing a river. Some are better for scenery, but lack good fishing. Some are great fishing, but lack solitude. Among other things, your goals will determine which trip will be most rewarding for you and your group.

    Mid June

    Floating the Kongakut River in far NE Alaska (ANWR). Good dolly fishing but mostly a scenic wonder. A great trip here to see some impressive mountains and this trip timing coincides with the Porcupine caribou migration up to the north slope. Fantastic hiking opportunities on this float. Many do one day of floating, then a layover day with a long day hike. Alternating days on the river with hiking days. A 12-14 day trip would allow plenty of time to enjoy this float. Class III canyon section for two miles or so, but otherwise a class II river. Expensive as there are long bush flights. Fairbanks to Arctic Village via Wright Air then a bush flight to the river. Same for the return. About twice the price of the other trips we have done or have planned.

    Late June

    Good time for rainbows on the Goodnews or Kanektok (SW Alaska). This applies to many, many, other rivers in SW Alaska of course, just referencing the two I have the most information on. The Eek, Arolik, Togiak, Kisaralik, and Kwethluk are among some of the many other choices. Tons of great floats in SW Alaska for the angling float tripper. This is the time to throw the deer hair mice, sculpins, etc.. Fishing the braided sections of the river and along cut banks. With any luck, you would catch the early side of the kings in the lower river. Both the Goodnews and Kanektok have great king runs. These same rivers in early/mid Sept would find bigger rainbows and also good fishing for silvers during mid/late August. Trip timing is crucial.

    First two weeks of July

    This is prime time on the Goodnews and Kanektok for kings. The middle river will be good rainbow fishing and the lower river will be kings. Great fishery for kings and the intimate size of these rivers lends itself well to fly fishing for kings. The Kanektok has a larger run of kings, but is a larger river and perhaps receives more angling pressure at this time as well.

    Mid August

    Floating the Alatna River in Gates of the Arctic would be great. Start the trip at Circle Lake, stash most gear/boats, hike up into the Arrigetch Peaks (5-6k foot granite spires) for 3-4 days. Then return to the lake (beside the Alatna) and float 85 miles down to Helpmejack Creek (85 miles) for pick up and return flight to Bettles. A great 10-14 day trip that would afford great hiking and photography. Some fishing for on the way, but just an average fishing river. Wilderness quality would be very high.

    Third week of August

    Float the Kobuk River for sheefish. World class sheefishing. Start at Lake Minakokosa and float the 8 mile section of Beaver Creek to the Kobuk proper. This puts you in below the upper and lower Kobuk Canyons on the Kobuk River (class III/IV). Then float 80+/- miles to the village of Kobuk for the take out and return flight. Some of the nicest folks I have met in Alaska were from Kobuk and I look forward to visiting this village. The confluence of the Pah River imparticularly is famous spawning grounds for sheefish. State record fishing here. 40 + lb fish are a possibility. Wilderness quality is very high as well.

    Last week of August/ first week of Sept

    Prime time for Silvers and rainbows (and dollies) on the Goodnews. Same for many rivers in SW with the Goodnews, Kanektok, and Togiak being at the top of my list if silvers was the goal. We did the Goodnews in 2007. Spent 13 days on this river and loved every minute of it. Well, except for the bear walking in camp, but that is a story for another time perhaps. Lovely float. Lots of bears, lots of fish, great scenery, and great camping. Just a gem of a float trip. One that I will repeat for sure.

    First two weeks of Sept

    Float some of the rivers in NW Alaska (Kelly, Kugururok, or Wulik) for trophy dolly varden. Dollies are very similar to arctic char, perhaps that name is more familiar to you. I have done all three of these rivers and they all offer nice trips with the wilderness quality being much highere on the Kug and Kelly than the Wulik. Nice 6-7 day trips, even though we spent 13 on the Kug, these are easy week trips. Biggest dollies in the state in this small area of NW Alaska. Something to do with the water temp and mineral content. Fish bios have studied it since the early 90's and the state record dolly, 27 lbs, came from this area. Just a fabulous dolly fishery. The area does get some hunting pressure for the NW Arctic Caribou herd (400k +) but the area is relatively unvisited until late Aug. Visiting these rivers in mid August would cut down on the likelyhood of seeing anyone else, but some of the dollies are still in the ocean (they are anadromous) until early Sept. By mid Sept, the dollies have returned to the rivers, especially the deeper holes, ready to overwinter.

    Above is my thoughts on float trips in a nutshell. For all trips, I know what pilot to take you there and all the logistics. And keep in mind, there are lots of other options. This is just my rather limited knowledge here. I am only suggesting rivers I have actually done myself, or heavily researched and have on the back burner. Many other rivers to float. But I take the wife, so when I hear of major rapids, logjams, and such, I forget that river. Not my cup of tea. My biggest turn off is seeing other people, so most of my trips are focussed on solitude. Well, solitude and flyfishing opportunity. Some other popular floating rivers specific to fishing are quite crowded. These are the rivers you will likely find information on rather easily. Cat holes all over the gravel bars, cigarette butts, seeing other folks every day on the river, you know the deal. Many of these rivers will have simpler and cheaper logistics and originate from Anchorage. I have no interest in those type of float trips but that certainly doesn't mean they are not worth researching. Just not my cup of tea. Anyway, happy to share any info I can with you while planning your float trip. Talking about float trips is a joy. Alot of what I learned originated here with generous forum members. With that and my own experiences, I have something to share these days. I consider it good karma to do so when I hear someone is planning a float trip. Especially if that be a first float trip. I remember how hard it was to get any information. So many questions with so few apparent answers. Any info I can give you to make for a safer and more enjoyable float trip, it is yours. Let me know if I can be of help. Below is a link to some pics from our recent trips.

    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Uttwil, Switzerland, Switzerland


    Hallo Zusammen

    Falls Ihr auch was tolles in der Nähe von Faibanks sucht kann ich Euch ein paar Tipps geben. Habt ihr den Flug den schon gebucht?

    Stefan (vom Bodensee)

  10. #10
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Canoe or Kayak or Raft adventures

    I was looking at a few of my river guide books today and thinking about some of my most memorable floats, One book had 126 different rivers in alaska to float, anouther had about 40, ,, etc.. I had actually forgot about a few of the rivers i have floated until I read the name, and then the memories came back to me in a flood....
    One river I somehow have not thought much about was a float I did about 20 years ago on the tikchik river. I started the adventure up at upnuk lake or nishlik lake,, the upper one anyway,, and floated for about 5 or 6 days down to the actual Tikchik lake ,, a lake with two names actually,, the western portion of the lake is called Nuyakuk lake and the eastern portion is Tikchik lake... The River out of Tikchik lake is the Nuyakuk river and flows to the Nushagak river, not into the Wood Tikchik drainage as you may suppose..... I was casting a spinner for Silver salmon several miles up river from Tikchik lake, in fairly fast water,, and I caught a very nice Lake trout..... now what are the chances of that normally,,, anyway,, my point is that I have never personally had a bad float on any Alaska river.... NEVER... I have loved them and missed them and have fond memories of every single trip... No matter the weather or the problems... they have all been a joy to me....
    I have shared stories about sitting out on the tide flats for 10 hours waiting for the next tide to come in and give me enough water to float down the final 4 miles of a river.... Some would complain, but to me it was cool.... I remember laying in the raft in my sleeping bag looking into the night sky and watching flocks of Geese and Sandhill cranes fly past a partial 3/4 moon, We talked and laughed and actually got out the cribbage board and played several hands of the game using the dry bags for a card table and a coleman lantern as light.... ,, when the rain came later, we pulled a blue tarp over us and although sleep never came due to the rain and winds, I was warm enough.......
    One fellow in the boat after the trip told me that he had enough of Alaska river trips and would not go again.....
    SO,,,, Why did he call me the next summer asking me what my plans for my september float were going to be????? lol..
    Its all good,,, and the choices are in the hundreds.. .. the deciding factor for some may be money, but think about that for a moment..... Maybe you should find the river that strikes you interest and then find the money no matter how,, to get to that river and do it..... I would hate to ever say..
    I would like to do that river, but the cost of getting there and back are just too much...... but then some are like my Exwife.... and say,, " If there is a Will,,, there is a way ,,, OUT.."""" LOL
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years.

  11. #11
    New member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Bern, Switzerland


    Hi all !

    I'm a swissguy too and I made already two floats on the beautifull rivers of Alaska.

    The moment I'm planning a group by six for the Tal in July and I can give you also a few hints for your plans.

    Cedrick, check out my website Under float trips you can see the past floats on Stuyahok and Karluk-River and check under projects what all is needed for a float.

    Cedrick, you can contact me directly - my email adress you will find on my website.

    Cheers Urs¨

    @all - sorry guys, the reports are in german - but you can watch the pics anyway :-)

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