Best Rafting in Alaska

Trying to find the best rafting in Alaska? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.

1

Alaska, Kenai Peninsula County

06 :24 hrs
13.3 mi
73.516266 ft
III

The Upper Kenai River is a beautiful, glacier-fed river that offers excellent paddling opportunity just a few hours away from Anchorage. The river has easy road access, great fishing, and some very good scenery making it a popular choice among paddlers and fisherman. This section of river between Cooper Landing and Jim's Landing has class II-III rapids and frigid waters and is suited for intermediate paddlers. The river becomes more technical and difficult to navigate after Jim's Landing and should only be attempted by more advanced paddlers. Catarafts and river kayaks are the boat types that are adequate for running the Upper Kenai River.

2

Alaska, Kenai Peninsula County

05 :51 hrs
11.8 mi
12.4187355 ft
IV

The Upper Kenai River is a beautiful, glacier-fed river that offers excellent paddling opportunity just a few hours away from Anchorage. The river has easy road access, great fishing, and some very good scenery making it a popular choice among paddlers and fisherman. This section of river between Jim's Landing and Skilak Lake consists of multiple II-IV rapids and should only be attempted by experienced paddlers. The river travels through a canyon with large boulders and standing waves that require careful navigation. The water is very cold and unforgiving so use extreme caution. Catarafts and river kayaks are the boat types that are adequate for running the Upper Kenai River. Once on Skilak Lake paddlers can be exposed to rough and cold waters so be prepared for the elements and pay attention to the weather.

3

Alaska, Valdez-Cordova County

24 :18 hrs
50 mi
217.2381 ft
I

This multi-day paddle trip follows the main branch of The Gulkana River through scenic and remote wilderness terrain of interior Alaska. The river is a popular one for paddlers due to its diverse water types ranging from calm flatwater to challenging class IV rapids. The trip starts on Paxson Lake and covers almost 50 miles to the take-out at Sourdough Creek Campground. There are multiple sections of class II-III rapids that require skillful paddling. There are also some challenging class IV rapids about 20 miles into the run that can be portaged around by following a well-maintained portage trail. The trail can be used for scouting the rapids for those experienced paddlers who are planning on running the rapids but be sure to lighten your boat first. There are quite a few established camp spots located along the river to accommodate overnight trips.

4

Alaska, Kenai Peninsula County

06 :23 hrs
12.8 mi
9.577908 ft
I

This paddling trip starts from Lower Skilak Lake Campground and follows the shoreline of the large glacial lake west up the Kenai River to Bings Landing. The trip follows scenic and rugged shoreline where lots of wildlife and birdlife can be seen. The portion on the river is fairly wide and can be easily paddled in either direction. The river, however, does get very crowded during fishing season resulting in unfavorable paddling conditions. Water on Skilak Lake can be very unpredictable during bad weather and the water temperature is cold so be cautious and stay close to shore.

5

Alaska, Matanuska-Susitna County

02 :31 hrs
5.1 mi
16.609919 ft
I

The paddling trip follows the clearwater of Willow Creek between the Parks Highway and the state recreation area located at its confluence with the Susitna River. The narrow creek can be challenging to navigate due to downed trees and obstructions, especially depending on water level. There are also shallow sections that may require some dragging of your boat. Small catarafts with open floors and small kayaks with large openings are the best boat options for running Willow Creek as they are easier to get in and out of. The creek is very popular for king salmon fishing so arrange to float the river during a time when fishing is restricted.

6

Alaska, Kenai Peninsula County

04 :01 hrs
9.6 mi
26.857754 ft
II

The Kasilof is a glacier-fed river located south of Anchorage that provides some extremely beautiful scenery and lots of solitude for paddling and fishing. The river is the 2nd largest freshwater fishery on the Kenai Peninsula. The run is a good option for intermediate and advanced paddlers due to class II whitewater rapids, submerged hazards, and very cold water. This trip starts from the put-in at the campground and covers 9.5 miles to a take-out at the Kasilof River State Recreation Area. Paddlers can also choose to cover an additional 8 miles to the outlet into Cook Inlet.

7

Alaska, Anchorage County

04 :49 hrs
11.6 mi
32.900322 ft
IV

The Eagle River is a glacier-fed river that runs through scenic wilderness just a short distance from Anchorage. The river is easy to access and offers some fun and challenging waters for for intermediate paddlers. The 11-mile run between the North Fork and Eagle River CG consists of class I-IV rapids, strainers, and frigid water. The class IV rapids are located just below the campground and can be avoided by using an alternate take-out at the Eagle River Loop Bridge.

8

Alaska, Wasilla

03 :48 hrs
8.5 mi
10.88626 ft
I

The Knik River is located just a short distance out of Anchorage and offers an easy half-day paddle down a wide river channel through scenic wilderness. The trip starts from the Knik River Bridge and covers over 8 miles of waterway to the take-out just after the Highway 1 bridge. The run consists of class I rapids and eddies. Wind can also result in some rough waters and there are some stronger tides near the outlet.

9

Alaska, Southeast Fairbanks County

51 :15 hrs
121.2 mi
106.0759 ft
II

The Upper Tanana offers an excellent multi-day paddling destination in Interior Alaska's very remote and rugged wilderness. The river is quite a distance from Fairbanks and shuttling vehicles is a challenge so paddlers who make the effort will enjoy plenty of solitude. The water is flat with lots of braided channels that make it interesting and challenging but still manageable for intermediate paddlers. When the river is divided into multiple channels, follow the widest one with the most water. Wind can cause some riffles and rough water. There are no other access sites along this stretch but adequate campsites make multi-day trips on the river possible. The bridge is a decent spot to put-in but leaving vehicles at this spot for multiple days is not recommended.

10

Alaska, Juneau County

02 :09 hrs
5.1 mi
16.22299 ft
III

Mendenhall Glacier and Mendenhall Lake are located a short drive from Juneau and are one of the most scenic and popular attractions in Southeast Alaska. The river flowing out of Mendenhall Lake offers a scenic and thrilling whitewater run for paddlers. The cold, fast flowing water consists of class II-III rapids over rocks and around tight bends that require careful maneuvering and thorough scouting. The water is cold so skillful paddling is a must to avoid capsizing a boat in frigid glacial water.

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