The Alsek River and its major tributary, the Tatshenshini River, are large volume, swift glacial rivers. Beginning in the interior, it is one of a small number of river systems which breach the coast range, offering boaters uncommon environmental diversity, impressive scenery, and an outstanding wilderness experience.
Most trips begin on the Tatshenshini at Shawshe (Dalton Post), the last road accessible put-in off the Haines Highway in Yukon Territory, Canada. From here it is 140 river miles to the normal take-out at Dry Bay, Alaska. A six-mile long canyon immediately below Shawshe (Dalton Post) offers continuous Class III whitewater, Class IV at high water (International Scale, Class I-VI). The remainder of the river is generally Class II with large eddies and folds at normal volumes. The Alsek River above its confluence with the Tatshenshini is Class III above Turnback Canyon. Turnback Canyon must be portaged by rafters during the summer months. Tatshenshini trips average 6 days on the water, plus additional lay-over days.
Tatshenshini-Alsek trips starting at Shawshe (Dalton Post) travel through private Champaign-Aishihik Tribal lands, Yukon Territory lands, Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in Canada and Glacier Bay National Park. Upper Alsek trips travel through Kluane National Park, and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, Canada. For travel on the upper Alsek contact Kluane National Park, Parks Canada, Haines Junction, Yukon Canada Y0B 1L0, (867) 634-2329 extension 201. For current streamflow conditions on the Alsek River, see the USGS Alsek River streamflow web site.
For a list commercial operators authorized to operate in the the park and preserve see the Glacier Bay Visitor Services Directory. A permit is required for private trips. You may get on the waiting list for private trip permits by sending your name, address, home and work telephone numbers, e-mail address, and payment of $25 to cover administrative charges to: National Park Service, Yakutat Ranger Station, River Permits, PO Box 137, Yakutat AK 99869. Payment of the $25 administrative fee may be made by money order, international money order, or by using Visa or MasterCard. To pay by credit card, please provide your credit card information (cardholder name, card number, expiration date) and indicate that you would like $25 to be charged to that card. Please note that the National Park Service cannot accept cash or checks. If you have any questions, please contact the Yakutat Ranger Station at (907)784-3295. Overnight camping permits are required by Kluane National Park on the upper Alsek River.
Rafting Permit Application and Information
Both private and commercial trip information packets are available from any of the following land managers:Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Park Headquarters, PO Box 140
Gustavus AK 99826
Phone (907) 697-2230
fax (907)697-2654 Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve PO Box 137
Yakutat, AK 99689.
Kluane National Park
Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park
As a condition of these permits, all operators are required to abide by jointly developed Environmental and Safety Standards (22KB .pdf file) for expeditions on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers. See also the Alsek River Management Plan.
Did You Know?
There are separate populations of killer whales that inhabit the same area but eat different foods, behave differently, and do not interbreed. Three kinds—transients, residents, and offshores—have all been spotted in Glacier Bay.