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Thread: Gulkana River float guide

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Anchorage, AK

    Default Gulkana River float guide

    I found a great guide on-line for floating the Gulkana. It is published by BLM and titled Gulkana National Wild River Floater's Guide.

    Lists the campgrounds along the river, how many tents they can hold, has their gps coords. Also, interesting history facts about the river. Info on getting through the canyon. Looks like a great resource.

    Just do a google search, BLM Gulkana floaters guide. It will be the first thing on the list.

  2. #2
    Member WaterWolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Missed several of those camp sites last year do to all the ice damage.

  3. #3
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River

    Default Gulkana River, what a resource...

    Such an enjoyable river at its best. BLM really makes an effort to maintain it. If a river has to be managed, they do about as good a job as you'd hope for. A short, general description of the Gulkana main stem is at:

    Is the "Floaters Guide" what you read, Waterwolf? BLM has revised this brochure. "Floaters Guide" is at: New stuff in this updated version. It's excellent. Notable sections from the Floaters Guide:

    Water Gauge Data
    Practical instructions that give an idea how the river changes with different flow rates. Example: "As a very general rule, when reading the data from the graph for the Paxson Outlet, at a gauge height of 2.50 (260 cfs) or less you will probably run into very rocky conditions depending on where you are on the river".

    Some good points and pointers about keeping the place in good shape throughout the float season. BLM does a big cleanup on this river each spring. Here's a sample paragraph from the brochure:
    Keeping the banks and water of the Gulkana pristine
    Every year BLM river patrols clean up trash, toilet paper, and human waste
    from the banks of the Gulkana River. This garbage, left behind by river users, can alter the pristine nature of the river and negatively impact other users’ wilderness experience. Help maintain the Gulkana National Wild River through the use of portable toilet systems and a pack it in, pack it out philosophy. A boater dump station is located at Sourdough Campground for your convenience.
    Responsible use of public land will ensure that you can enjoy a quality experience for years to come.

    Also other informative new sections, Low Impact Camping, Firepans, Portable Toilets. The Low Impact Camping section is well worth reading - especially for anyone new. For instance, "Plan your trip to avoid high-use weekends during the summer months, especially during holidays."

    In Richard Proenneke's story (One Man's Wilderness), there's an episode where in the course of living/writing about a year in his cabin, he describes his frustration/anger when he discovers a firepit containing trash that others left behind at a campsite on the far side of the lake. That was one man, in a remote area long ago (late 1960's).

    Multiply that by all the users on the Gulkana and it's easy to appreciate BLMs efforts. For all the traffic the Gulkana River gets each season, it remains a terrific, road-accessible rafting experience with an entry-level lower/main river (flat, wide, 1-2 days float) and a more challenging (technically, logistically) upper river when one is ready. The Upper Gulkana surprises many for the remoteness you experience, especially in early season. Later in the season, tufts of tissue paper here and there in the brush can be distracting. Adding to the accessibility, it's a relatively inexpensive float using a guide service, so no raft/camp expenses. At least one outfitter (Blue Moose Rafting) will even reduce expenses if your party is willing to share the work.


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