River Floating and Boating

Two people in a rubber boat rafting the Copper River through a canyon.
Rafting the Copper River.

NPS Photo- Bryan Petrtyl

The rivers of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve offer a remote, backcountry experience. There are hazards in these waters that are rarely encountered outside of Alaska. If you've never led your own river trip, we don't recommend that your first time be here. Instead, go with a guide company.

Almost all of the rivers in Wrangell-St. Elias National are glacial and have challenging whitewater. Glacial rivers carry an extremely high level of silt, typically making it impossible to see the river bottom. Spring run-off, heavy rain, and hot temperatures can cause quick, dramatic change in water levels. These rivers are extremely cold and hypothermia is a danger even after a brief submersion, regardless of air temperature. Always wear a drysuit and a personal floatation device (pfd).

If you are on a self-guided trip, whitewater experience and reading glacial rivers is imperative. You must be self-sufficient.

For information to plan a river trip, please email a backcountry ranger at wrst_backcountry@nps.gov

Popular river trip destinations include the Copper River, Chitina River, Nizina River, Nabesna River, Chisana River, and Tana River, among others.

Last updated: November 19, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center, AK 99573


907 822-5234

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