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 coastal range, offering boaters uncommon ecological diversity, impressive scenery and an outstanding wilderness experience.
Planning and executing a river trip on the Alsek-Tatshenshini Rivers is a lengthy, expensive and complex process. Please be ready to commit the time necessary to get to and from the river in addition to running it. Be prepared to pay high fees for drop off services and bush airplane charters. For most groups the only way out of Dry Bay is by airplane charter.
Dalton Post (Shawshe): The mostly used put-in is Post (Shawshe) which is 140 river miles (224 km) to the take-out at Dry Bay, Alaska. A six mile-long canyon immediately below Shawshe 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 difficulty of the river surprises many river runners. The put-in is also on land owned by the Champagne & Aishihik First Nations in Canada. This is part of their traditional lands and portions of the area are sacred. When you arrive at Dalton Post (Shawshe), please read the informational bulletin boards and obey the posted signs and regulations. The maps and information will direct you to the put-in. Please respect the land and requests of the Champagne-Aishihik people.
If you are not prepared for and willing to commit to this magnitude of wilderness trip, please do not get on the waiting list, get a permit, and then cancel. This only reduces other river runners' opportunities to float the rivers.
You must comply with all U.S. and Canadian Customs, conservation and other laws. Contacts: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 1509, Haines, AK, 99827, (907) 767-5511; Canada Customs, Box 4520, Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2R8, (867) 667-3964.
Glacier Bay National Park/Preserve, Kluane National Park & Reserve, British Columbia Parks, Yukon Territorial Government and Champagne & Aishihik First Nations continue to work on a joint international river management plan. Until the time an international plan is in place, Glacier Bay National Park/Preserve will manage the private permit system. Note: All fees collected are used to offset administrative, maintenance, patrol and personnel costs in managing the river and river permit system.
Travel on the Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers through Glacier Bay National Park requires a USNPS permit.
Trips entering the United States must have been legally registered as required by Canadian authorities. Please be aware that you are traveling through two other parks on the river: Kluane National Park on the Alsek River and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in British Columbia on the Tatshenshini River and lower Alsek River.
Customs: Trips must comply with all U.S. Customs and Canadian Customs requirements. You can contact U.S. Customs at (907) 767-5511 and Canadian Customs at (867) 667-3964. Detailed customs information will be sent with the permit.
Please note: British Columbia Parks is now instituting a fee of up to $100.00 or $125.00 (Canadian) per person, depending on the date of the trip for all Alsek and Tatshenshini trips.
Kluane National Park: For travel on the upper Alsek, through Kluane, private boaters must contact and register to obtain a put-in date. For this information and to receive river management guidelines, contact Kluane National Park, Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada, YOB 1L0, (867) 634-7207, Fax: (867) 634-7208. Kluane has a variety of park-specific bear protection guidelines such as designated camping, which all river users must follow. Firearms of any type are not permitted in Kluane National Park. Human waste carryout is mandatory. Boaters who applied for and received one of the reserved Alsek put-in dates must contact Kluane NP for their backcountry permit.
Permit Application Procedures:
An individual may write or call the Yakutat Ranger Station at any time to be placed on the waiting list for a permit. There is a $25 (U.S.) administrative charge to be placed on the waiting list. Payments are accepted by money order or credit card. If paying by credit card, include in your letter the name as it appears on the card, the card number, the expiration date, the three digit security code from the back of the card and that you would like to have $25 charged to that card. Allocation of permits is completed each fall for the following season. In November, the entire waiting list will be contacted concerning date requests for the following season. In December, dates will be assigned.
The first 40 people on the waiting list may take a date for the next season or defer until the following year. If a permit date is not taken the following year, the person is removed from the waiting list. Only one deferral is allowed after your waiting list number is below 40.
All individuals will be contacted in December concerning either their permit date or their new waiting list number.
When the permit applications are returned in mid-January, anyone on the waiting list is eligible for any untaken dates or any canceled permits and may call for this information at (907) 784-3370. This is a 24-hour recording and message line.
Once you receive notification that you will receive a permit, your name is taken off the waiting list. All permit holders must then pay their $100 (U.S.) permit fee and return their application by January 19th. If the fee and application are not received, and the Yakutat Ranger Station is not contacted, the permit will be canceled and the individual must reapply to the waiting list.
Once you have taken a trip as a permittee, you must wait until January 1 the following year to apply again to the waiting list.
An individual may participate in one noncommercial river trip per season. This is to allow more people to participate in trips.
Cancellation Policy: If you cancel your permit by January 19, you may be placed back at the end of the waiting list and you will receive a refund of your permit fee.
If you cancel your trip by April 1, you will be penalized by forfeiting your permit fee, but you may move to the end of the waiting list without paying the administrative charge.
If you cancel your trip after April 1, you will be penalized by not being allowed to reapply to the waiting list for two years and you forfeit your permit fee.
If you are a "no show" for your river trip, you will not be allowed to reapply for a trip for five years and you forfeit your permit fee.
Scheduling is done to provide an equal number of private and commercial permits throughout the peak season, June 10-Sept. 17. Outside of the peak season, scheduling is for 1 commercial trip on even days and 1 private trip on odd days. Only one trip per day is allowed to arrive at Dry Bay. Since there is no limit on trip length or put-in date (on the Tatshenshini), be aware that there may be other parties putting in at Dalton Post on the same day. If you want to avoid other people, you may want to consider trips early or late in the season. It is also possible to work with other boaters, both commercial and private, to avoid conflicts at the put-in and popular campsites or with shuttles. The application provides a check-off if you would like your application information shared with other river users to coordinate shuttles and air taxis.
Keep in mind that trips arriving at Dry Bay before the third week in June may experience, depending on spring weather conditions, pan ice/ice blockage on Alsek Lake, requiring a portage of up to ½ mile. In recent years the channel leading to the airstrip has dried up and most groups choose to hire someone to haul their gear from the main channel to the airstrip rather than row/drag up the slack water in the lower end of the channel. Commercial portage services are available at Dry Bay and low or high water can happen at any time.
Depending on weather conditions in the Yukon, flood conditions sometime occur on the upper Tatshenshini below Dalton Post especially in late May-early June and late September-early October.
Dry Bay is not road accessible. Charter flights from Dry Bay can be arranged to Yakutat, which is served by Alaska Airlines, or directly to Whitehorse, Haines, Juneau, etc. From a weather standpoint, the flight to Yakutat is the most reliable option. Flight arrangements must be made prior to departing. A list of permitted air charters is enclosed. A park ranger living in Dry Bay during the summer can be contacted for emergencies. The established take-out, adjacent to the main airstrip, includes a camping area, food storage building, outhouse and a human waste dump station. There is no telephone or trash pickup available. The Dry Bay area supports an active commercial set gill-net fishery. River runners should respect their livelihoods and not disrupt their operations. Stay clear of nets, fish camps and other private property. There are three lodges and a shuttle service operating in Glacier Bay National Preserve. They offer lodging and other services and their addresses and telephone numbers are enclosed.
Note: The arrival date to Dry Bay must be adhered to. This is the date you arrive at Dry Bay. There is no restriction on how long you can camp at Dry Bay after your arrival date before your flight out. We recommend scheduling your air taxi pick-up for the day after your Dry Bay arrival. The Dry Bay arrival date spaces river trips to preserve a quality wilderness experience. Arriving at Dry Bay on other than your arrival date will result in a citation and/or court appearance, and denial of future permits/trips on the rivers.
Environmental Protection and Sanitation:
An Environmental Ethics brochure was written by the commercial white-water companies in conjunction with the National Park Service, Parks Canada and the British Columbia Parks Department. Copies sent on request and are included with permits.
Glacier Bay National Park regulations:
(This is not a complete listing of applicable laws or regulations applying to Glacier Bay National Park/Preserve, Kluane National Park, or Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.)
References and Other Contact Information
Topographic maps are available through the U.S. Geological Survey, 4230 University Dr., Room 101, Anchorage, AK 99508 (907-786-7011). U.S. maps include (1:63,360): Skagway B-8, Yakutat A1, A-2, B-1. Canadian maps are available through private distributors. You can call the Canada Map Office at 800-465-6277 for more information or access a list of dealers using web site, http://maps.nrcan.gc.ca. In Whitehorse, Yukon, maps are available through Max Fireweed Books (800-661-0508). Canadian maps include (1:50,000): 115 A/3, 114 P/14, 114 P/11, 114 P/6, 114 P/5.
Cloudburst Productions of Haines, AK publishes a guide and map to the Tatshenshini and lower Alsek Rivers.
Authorized Air Taxi Services Serving Dry Bay
8907 Yandukin Dr.
Juneau, AK 99801
Alkan Air, Ltd.
P.O. Box 4008
Whitehorse, YT Y1A 3S9
Earth Center Adventures Inc./ Fly Drake
PO Box 411
Haines, AK 99827
Gulf Air LLC
Yakutat, AK 99689
Mountain Flying Service
P.O. Box 1404
Haines, AK 99827
(907) 766-3007 (summer)
(801) 259-8050 (winter)
100 Condor Rd.
Whitehorse, YT Y1A 6E6
8991 Yandukin Dr.
Juneau, AK 99801
Yakutat Coastal Airways
P.O. Box 163
Yakutat, AK 99689
Boat, Equipment, Toilet Rentals, Shuttle Services
Alaska River Outfitters
Haines, AK 99827
P.O. Box 1406 Haines, AK 99827
PO Box 512
Yakutat, AK 99689 (907) 784-8221
Shadow Lake Outfitters
Box 10546 Whitehorse,
YT Y1A 7A1
P (867) 393-2232
F (867) 393-2236
1602 Alder St. Whitehorse,
Yukon Y1A 3W8
Last updated: February 5, 2018