© Parks Canada / H. Markides
The Alsek is a remote wilderness river. While there is vehicle access to put-in points, the Alsek flows through remote country and take-out points are all air access only. Depending upon where you put-in and take-out a trip on the Alsek can be anywhere from 3 to 14 days in duration.
There are a number of commercial companies who offer day trips down the Alsek River. For those seeking the services of a guide, please consult the Glacier Bay Visitor Services Directory.
Maximum group size for private trips is 15 people. All members of your group should share responsibilities for the trip and be aware of its special restrictions. Please note that collecting fees for private trips is prohibited.
Most people put in here. Access is via the Alsek Trail a four-wheel drive road that enters Kluane National Park & Reserve from the Alaska Highway at km 1022. A high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is required.
Dezadeash River Bridge (Haines Junction)
This is an alternate put in most often used when the four-wheel drive road is inaccessible. It adds an extra day to the trip. Strong winds can make travel difficult between the Dezadeash River bridge and Serpentine Creek.
You must plan your trip so that put-in date obtained from Kluane National Park and Reserve corresponds to the day your trip passes Serpentine Creek.
Dalton Post (Shawshe)
River travellers may choose to avoid Turnback Canyon by travelling on the Tatshenshini River through Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park instead of the upper Alsek River.
En Route Considerations
Special Preservation Area
Near the beginning of your trip a 45 km stretch of the Alsek River in Kluane National Park and Reserve passes through a Special Preservation Area. The purpose of this zone is to preserve grizzly bear habitat and a number of rare plant species found in the valley. To reduce the potential for bear-human encounters and displacement of bears from important habitats camping and travel restrictions are in effect.
In Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, the Alsek River runs through Turnback Canyon, a 7 km-long run of continuous class V-VI white water. Travelling through Turnback Canyon is not recommended. Travellers are advised to helicopter portage Turnback Canyon. You must fly with a company licensed to land in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.
The Alsek River flows across the international boundary between Canada and the United States. All boaters bound for Dry Bay must register with US Customs and Border Protection at the Dalton Cache Port of Entry (mile 40 on the Haines Highway) prior to commencing their trip. When registering, all party members must be present and have appropriate identification/documentation with them.
Inquiries about Customs and Immigration requirements should be directed to:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Dalton Cache Port of Entry: 907-767-5511
Canada Border Services Agency
Take Out Options
There is no road access to take out points; all require flying out by charter helicopter or small fixed-wing aircraft. All flight arrangements should be made prior to arriving in the park.
Lowell Glacier (3-4 days)
A Landing Permit is required for a Lowell Glacier take-out and you must fly with a company licensed to land in Kluane National Park & Reserve. Landing permits can be obtained when you pick up your Kluane Backcountry Permit. Fees apply.
Turnback Canyon (6-8 days)
While no landing permit is required, you must fly with a company licensed to land in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.
Dry Bay (10 – 12 days)
Return charter flights may be arranged from Dry Bay to Yakutat, Haines, Juneau or Whitehorse.
Consult the River Permit Application Procedures and Guidelines at Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve for a list of air charter companies.