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Thread: Float Planning, Where to go?

  1. #1

    Default Float Planning, Where to go?

    Hey everyone a few friends and I are wanting to do a couple day rafting trip this summer sometime in June. Mostly looking for a calmer river. Nothing in the class 5 areas. Not all of us are experienced and know where to go so a calmer float would be ideal.
    So my questions is what rivers would you recommend for a trip lasting a couple days? We don't mind driving a distance but unsure where to go.
    Also can anyone recommend a place to rent rafts?

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2

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    Can you be a little more specific? There are plenty of rivers that you can float in a couple days.

  3. #3
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    The Chulitna might be a good 3 day trip at the end of June. Put in at the East Fork crossing on the Parks Hwy and float to the Princess lodge although that takeout might be unavailable this year. If you can't take out at the Princess Lodge float one more day toTalketna or Sunshine.

    Another trip might be the Gulkana from Sourdough to some point downstream depending on how many days you want. The upper Gulkana is really a 4-5 day trip unless you want marathon days on the river.

    Add an airplane and the associated costs and you options are almost limitless.

  4. #4

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    Well we all live in Anchorage and enjoy outdoors so we wanted to plan a float trip in June. Not sure what rivers offer what kind of put in and take out points or how long it would take to get between the two. Just looking for info on rivers as we are not sure on where to go. Newbie here

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    Quote Originally Posted by GUZ808 View Post
    Hey everyone a few friends and I are wanting to do a couple day rafting trip this summer sometime in June. Mostly looking for a calmer river. Nothing in the class 5 areas. Not all of us are experienced and know where to go so a calmer float would be ideal.
    So my questions is what rivers would you recommend for a trip lasting a couple days? We don't mind driving a distance but unsure where to go.
    Also can anyone recommend a place to rent rafts?

    Thanks in advance
    Often when a party gets together for a couple day outing... a good choice would be a short fly-in river trip no more than an hours flight radius. This maximizes time-line you have on-water instead of driving distances, shuttling, road crew delays, etc.

    If you do go by road, any advantage/disadvantage for a couple days can mean two vehicles, the extra gas, leaving them unattended, etc. A roadside trip will however put you in a tow and go scenario with raft assembled on a trailer or for cars without towing options there's easy inflating and deflating with a 12v pump.

    I see you did include general classification on the calmer side... better yet to include a few planned activities in order of priorities like sportfishing, scenery, camping, clear water or glacial silted, etc. I see also 'rent rafts' question --- do you mean a couple personal rafts or one that will work for the group?

    I have dozens of excellent recommendations for locations by air service or road accessible (and combination of both) in addition to picking the right boat or boats plus other trip gear.

    Where do you plan to initially head off from? Anchorage, Fairbanks, etc? Do you live in Anchorage or visiting Alaska for example?

  6. #6
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    GUZ808,
    If you can get five days for a float, the Gulkana River from Paxson Lake to Sourdough is always a great trip....well covered in these forum archives.

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    If you only have a couple of days, two or three days, you should look at the Kenai River also. I think the upper sections are closed to fishing for the first full week in June, then it opens up for trout and salmon. but even if the fishing is closed in early June, the river can be rafted and enjoyed.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    The Chulitna might be a good 3 day trip at the end of June. Put in at the East Fork crossing on the Parks Hwy and float to the Princess lodge although that takeout might be unavailable this year. If you can't take out at the Princess Lodge float one more day toTalketna or Sunshine.

    Another trip might be the Gulkana from Sourdough to some point downstream depending on how many days you want. The upper Gulkana is really a 4-5 day trip unless you want marathon days on the river.

    Add an airplane and the associated costs and you options are almost limitless.
    What he said. If you were a little more specific about you expectations it might help us narrow down your search. There a literally hundreds of float options in AK.

  9. #9

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    We live in Anchorage and weren't looking into the option of flying just because of cost. Driving two vehicles wouldn't be an issue. I am not sure if we should rent a larger raft or two smaller ones. I figured two rafts would be better than one. I believe we will have about 6-8 people. Along the float trip we do plan to fish. So rivers with good fishing would be great.

    Ideas of rivers and places to rent rafts are what Im looking for along with any advice

    Thanks in advance

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by GUZ808 View Post
    We live in Anchorage and weren't looking into the option of flying just because of cost. Driving two vehicles wouldn't be an issue. I am not sure if we should rent a larger raft or two smaller ones. I figured two rafts would be better than one. I believe we will have about 6-8 people. Along the float trip we do plan to fish. So rivers with good fishing would be great.

    Ideas of rivers and places to rent rafts are what Im looking for along with any advice



    Thanks in advance
    Try the Gulkana river. Great fishing. Plenty of campsites to accommodate a group of your size. You will have to travel far and fast to make it in a couple days. It is 45 river miles. There is one class III-IV rapids, but you can easily portage it if you are not comfortable running it. As far as a raft rental you are on your own. I own my own raft. Check with Brian Richardson. He is on the forum often. He seems like a real nice guy and knowledgable also. I think this is his website. Brian? http://www.alaskaraftconnection.com/

  11. #11

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    Upper Kenai would be another good option. That would be a good half day float. It's about 12 miles. Nothing over class III. More like class I and II. Possibly some class III if water levels are high. Fishing is second to none. Campgrounds are plentiful around Cooper Landing and the Russian River.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GUZ808 View Post
    We live in Anchorage and weren't looking into the option of flying just because of cost. Driving two vehicles wouldn't be an issue. I am not sure if we should rent a larger raft or two smaller ones. I figured two rafts would be better than one. I believe we will have about 6-8 people. Along the float trip we do plan to fish. So rivers with good fishing would be great.

    Ideas of rivers and places to rent rafts are what Im looking for along with any advice

    Thanks in advance
    Having 6-8 people in your party (vs. the initial few) I'd recommend having 2 rafts.

    A suitable option would be renting two identical rafts like 14' conventional/traditional shape rafts to hold a standard on equipment and on-water compatibilities. These could be comprehensive un-assembled packages that you'd inflate and assemble at put-ins then disassemble at take-outs. This option is nice because just about any vehicle/vehicles will suffice, overall package simplicity, the timing it takes to assemble/disassemble, versatility, forgiveness, on-water performance (by not weighting down one boat) fun factor, and reliability.

    Another option along same lines is a tow and go, same 2 14' boats mentioned above, stacked on a nice trailer. Just food for thought and whomever you go with... on my trailers for example you'd need a 4-flat connection and a 2" ball hitch on your vehicle.

    The second option... a good choice for perspectives down the road should you consider more rafting trips and different applications is going one raft such as 14' self-bailer and a Cataraft (or a couple personal boats like one person cats, kayaks, canoes, etc.).

    River Suggestions:
    One of the very best orientations on suitable classification waters having excellent logistics along some beautiful landscapes is the upper Nenana River accessible on the Denali Highway. Great thing about this float is not nearly the traffic by road or on river as something like the Kenai. This trip plan offers nearly perfect progression for boaters wishing to first carefully orient themselves to rafting without getting in over their heads plus a nice safety net of road system nearby. Down river of the Park Highway bridge, the middle segment begins to develop different character and more challenge. Passing the Denali Park concessions, the river takes on whitewater canyon features with hazards best left to experienced boaters or several services that work day trips down this section. This is not a fishing trip, but I didn't see that as prerequisite - particularly much of June.

    Connect the dots on this trip by renting two comprehensive raft packages (maybe rent a trailer - maybe you have one), 2-3 vehicles (put one at Denali highway put-ins, one at Parks Highway bridge take out, a third if you are up to it at McKinley Village), then have the pros take you down the canyon. Camping, hotel, or B&B overnights makes an awesome 2-3 day weekend!

  13. #13
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Another vote for the upper Kenai here. The first run of reds (sockeye) will be in there, and if I remember correctly, the rainbow and dolly fishery opens on June 11th. It's a beautiful float; the river is easy, tons of gravel bars on which you could camp, and you can even see Dall sheep from the banks, up on the mountains to the north of the river. If you put in at Kenai Lake, you could float the whole thing to Jim's landing pretty quickly (in three hours if you moved right along). But if you take your time, you could set up a camp halfway down and just enjoy yourselves. If you have a trailer, or if you don't mind setting up your boats twice, you could do two runs in the same day, overnighting on the second run down. That also gives you the option of grabbing a burger at Gwyn's, which is located along the upper river.

    People talk about overcrowding on the upper river, but it's really not bad at all-- especially compared to rivers in the Lower 48. Granted, it's not like a flyout to the upper Goodnews, but it's really an amazing river; one of the best in the whole state, and it would be a great experience. And the drive from Anchorage is beautiful.

    Everyone is going to need waders or hip boots... make sure your guests know that. You can get by with cheap hippers for your guests, and you can usually find those at WalMart here in Anchorage. Also make sure everyone has raingear. You never know and I always bring mine.

    I would consider renting from Alaska Raft and Kayak, the sponsors of this forum. They don't get on here much because they're too busy selling boats, but they run the state's largest raft shop and have an excellent selection of boats in their rental pool. Here's their rate sheet. They also rent Clackacraft drift boats on trailers there\. You might inquire about that. I'd stop by the Great Alaska Sportsman Show, which is coming up March 31-April 3 and talk to them at their booth. They are at one end of the main floor in the Sullivan Arena. The GASS is also a great place to get some tips on fishing the upper river. I noticed that this year's seminar lineup includes some stuff on the Kenai River, so you should not miss that.

    The first run of reds mostly shoots off into the Russian River, so I would consider parking your boats in that area and fishing there for a while. That first run moves through pretty quickly though, so timing is really important. Monitor our fishing forums around that time (and check last year's posts to find out how it all played out timing-wise). With the first run you've got to strike while the iron is hot.

    It's a bit of a learning curve figuring out how to catch reds, so I'd take some time between now and then to learn about that. Then watch what folks do on the river. The rainbows and dollies aren't too hard to figure out, but you do need to use the right terminal gear or you'll beat the water to a froth and have little to show for your efforts. But you're not on your own in this regard, check out Gunnar Pedersen's "Fishing Alaska's Kenai River" in our bookstore. He goes over the whole thing.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
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  14. #14
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Rentals Rentals Rentals You do have options and as Mike Stated Alaska Raft and Kayak offers many options and Tracy and Mark do an excellent job and do offer Spring Show Specials. That is not to say you should not consider other rentals in the area just that Alaska Raft and Kayak does an outstanding job. You may also wish to consider the Alaska Raft Connection and Down Stream as well. Max (Alaska Canoe) near Streling also provides great service and is on the Kenai if in fact that is your choice of rivers.

    As per Mike's suggestion I would visit as many as possible at the outdoor show. I do believe Chuck Spalding (NOVA) will also have a couple of people working booths in Anc that weekend. If you see Alaska River Wrangellers (Mike and Jen) you should maybe have a chat with them as well if your heading over towards Copper Center they have options to fit your needs as well.

    Good Luck! Hope you have Fun!

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    BlueMoose,
    Hey, You rent RAFTING GEAR also. You mentioned other raft rental outfits, but omitted yourself. Please do not be so modest!
    I have referred two groups to you in the past and they all spoke highly of the quality of your rental gear and of your super customer service.
    GUZ808......Consider BlueMoose as a source for RAFT RENTAL GEAR as well as reliable information.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ibex View Post
    If you only have a couple of days, two or three days, you should look at the Kenai River also. I think the upper sections are closed to fishing for the first full week in June, then it opens up for trout and salmon. but even if the fishing is closed in early June, the river can be rafted and enjoyed.
    Gulkana is a wonderful trip!
    Karma is like a rubber band; it can only stretch so far before it comes back and smacks you in the face.

  17. #17
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    Default +1 for BMR...

    Quote Originally Posted by GUZ808 View Post
    Hey everyone a few friends and I are wanting to do a couple day rafting trip this summer sometime in June. Mostly looking for a calmer river. Nothing in the class 5 areas. Not all of us are experienced and know where to go so a calmer float would be ideal. So my questions is what rivers would you recommend for a trip lasting a couple days? We don't mind driving a distance but unsure where to go. Also can anyone recommend a place to rent rafts? Thanks in advance
    BMR: Greetings, GUZ808. Welcome to the Forums. So many good resources for rafting in Alaska. From the still-newby end of the rafting experience spectrum, I'll add...some excellent experiences with Blue Moose Rafting (BMR) when I started rafting. In 2006, my son visited Alaska after returning from deployment in Afghanistan. At the time, I had no rafting experience but chartered a Lower Gulkana River float, then later an Upper Gulkana BMR trip for my family with good results (http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...Rafting-Guides for some pics about the Canyon part of that trip). BMR's website at the time mentioned discounted rates for groups willing to share the work. Negotiable terms were attractive for us, so we provided our own camping gear and food. We also helped with the work. We didn't have our own rafts at the time so doing our own paddling didn't come up. BMR does rent gear and others have received good advice from them on DIY trips too.

    Information: key to learning the ins/outs of trip planning, good sources (like these forums and the veteran members) are invaluable. Other sources to consider:
    1. The AOD/OSA services directory includes a listing of rafting outfitters: http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/directory/rentals.htm. Blue Moose Rafting is under the North Pole section, but most...maybe all area outfitters seem to have good reputations. The magazine also offers some good "lessons learned" type stories. Some of my favorite are by Jeff Varvil.
    2. Good books: Indispensable references for anyone learning about rafting, especially in Alaska, are good reference works by Karen Jettmar, Mike Strahan and others. Barnes/Noble, rafting shops and the OSA store are good sources.

    Good luck.

  18. #18
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for the mention always appreciated never required. I took the web site down towards the end of last year. We will be putting a new web site out soon. Sorry to say we am not officially running a guide service in 2011 but will be back in full swing 2012. We are renting, repairing, and selling now and again just not guided rafting or fishing trips :-( Anyone can still call 907-460-7758 and I can tell my pack of fibs to them and as always information and time are always free.

    Much Respect

    Moose-O

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMoose View Post
    Thanks guys for the mention always appreciated never required. I took the web site down towards the end of last year. We will be putting a new web site out soon. Sorry to say we am not officially running a guide service in 2011 but will be back in full swing 2012. We are renting, repairing, and selling now and again just not guided rafting or fishing trips :-( Anyone can still call 907-460-7758 and I can tell my pack of fibs to them and as always information and time are always free.

    Much Respect

    Moose-O

    Are you going to get your new store front this year?

  20. #20
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    sorry for pimping the thread a little.

    No unfortunatley time is still crucial for 2011 daughter gave birth a little early and family as always comes first. We will be running the largest raft booth at the the Fairbanks show have the entire enterance. Will still be accomplishing all the associated raft store things just in NP versus Fairbanks. We are working on a land deal in Fairbanks again just going back and forth of pricing for two locations. so hopefully in 2012 we will be back full swing with the Fairbanks Store front.

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