River-Rafting and Kayaking in Tatshenshini-Alsek ParkIn the early 1970s a few adventurous people started to raft and kayak the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers. Their experiences were so moving and exhilarating that many volunteered long hours, working to ensure protection for the area. River use grew slowly at first, but widespread media attention in the late 1980s brought many new people to experience these rivers. By 1994 over 13,600 user nights were spent on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers. This growing use required management.
Park Managers in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, Kluane National Park and Reserve (Yukon), and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska) work together to manage river use through permitting, similar to other great scenic rivers such as the Colorado. The permit system is being used to help maintain a high quality wilderness experience, to minimize human impact, and to protect natural and cultural values. Half of the permits are available to private parties and the other half are issued to commercial operators. Commercial trips may be booked through various travel agencies, but there is usually a waiting list for private trips.
Three common river trips in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park are described below. Although rafting on the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers is not technically difficult, rafters must be aware that the remoteness of this park is an essential factor to consider in trip preparation and safety. The exception to the level of difficulty is Turnback Canyon on the Alsek River, which is extremely hazardous at all water levels and travel is not recommended for even the most skilled rafter/kayaker.
Upper Tatshenshini River Day Trips:
The upper portion of the Tatshenshini River parallels the Haines Highway. Day trips along this stretch of class three water are common, starting at Mosquito Flats in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in British Columbia and taking out at Shäwshe (Dalton Post) in the Yukon Territory. No permits are required for day trips on this upper portion of river, and no fees are applied.
Please see the information below on use of the Shäwshe (Dalton Post) take-out.
Tatshenshini-Alsek River Trips to Dry Bay Alaska:
Through trips down the Tatshenshini River and lower Alsek River to Dry Bay Alaska are restricted through a permit system that is currently managed by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Dry Bay trips are scheduled and managed under a one-party-a-day take-out rule, including parties coming down the upper Alsek River from Kluane National Park. BC Parks charges fees for these trips, see below.
Shäwshe (Dalton Post), off the Haines Highway in the Yukon, is the usual put-in for trips down the Tatshenshini -Alsek. From here it is 140 river miles to the normal take-out at Dry Bay, Alaska. A six-mile long canyon immediately below Shäwshe (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. Tatshenshini trips average 6 days on the water, plus additional lay-over days.
Please see the information below on the use of the Shäwshe (Dalton Post) put in.
Alsek River Trips:
Alsek River trips through Kluane National Park (Yukon Territory) and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park typically start at Haines Junction and put-ins are managed through a permit system with Kluane National Park. The upper section of the river above Turnback Canyon is Class III. Turnback Canyon is extremely hazardous at all water levels and travel is not recommended for even the most skilled rafter/kayaker. Some groups chose to fly out of the Alsek River at Turnback Canyon. Groups that chose to continue down the Alsek River will need aircraft assistance to portage Turnback Canyon. Only aircraft companies with a valid park use permit are allowed to conduct flights within Tatshenshini-Alsek Park. Groups that portage and continue through to Dry Bay Alaska must be permitted through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Trips to Dry Bay are scheduled and managed under a one-party-a-day take-out rule, including parties coming down the Tatshenshini River. BC Parks charges fees for these trips, see below.
Shäwshe (Dalton Post)
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations ask all river rafters to please use the designated raft launch point at the Lower Landing site for your trip down the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers to Dry Bay, Alaska. The day trip arrivals take-out point is at the Upper Landing. These areas were identified to alleviate conflicts between other interest groups who use Shäwshe/ Dalton Post area.
U.S. National Park and Preserve
You must have an approved non-commercial river permit before paying the BC Parks river rafting fee. The following fee is applicable for kayaking and rafting through Tatshenshini-Alsek Park:
- $125.00 per person, per trip, for Dry Bay takeouts, between July 6 and August 30 (includes applicable taxes);
- $100.00 per person, per trip, for Dry Bay takeouts, for all other dates (includes applicable taxes).
Payment – Tatshenshini River Rafting Fee:
Payment can be made at the FrontCounter BC Smithers Regional Office by debit, cheque, money order or credit card (VISA, MasterCard or American Express). For payments by credit card please contact the FrontCounter BC Smithers Regional office either in person or by phone at 250-847-7356. Credit card payments will not be accepted by email or fax.
Fee payment must be made a minimum of 30 days prior to your departure date. A receipt will be issued. Our agency will also forward a copy as proof of payment to the Yakutat Ranger Station in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Payment of this fee is a condition of the permit issued to you by the US National Park Service (Condition 11. “Permittee must comply with all applicable Canadian permitting regulations and user fee payments for Kluane National Park in the Yukon and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in British Columbia”). You must also carry a copy of this receipt with you while on your river trip.
The intention of this fee is to supplement the costs associated with the operation of Tatshenshini-Alsek Park. Please be aware that access through Tatshenshini-Alsek Park will be prohibited in the event that this fee is not paid in full.
Campsites along the Tatshenshini River and Alsek River within Tatshenshini-Alsek Park were evaluated in 2000 for their potential for bear-human interaction, including displacement of bears from feeding areas and direct bear-human encounters. This project was a collaborative effort of the government agencies responsible for overseeing management of visitor use on the Tatshenshini River and Alsek River.
- Report: Risk Assessment of Bear-Human Interaction at Campsites on the Tatshenshini River and Lower Alsek River, Yukon, B.C., and Alaska [PDF]
- Google Earth file showing campsites evaluated for likelihood of encountering bears (low / medium / high) [KMZ] - In Google Earth, click on the icon to see campsite hazard and location information. RR is river right, RL is river left.
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