Gulkana National Wild and Scenic River

Quick Facts

Gulkana National Wild and Scenic River

Alaska

(907) 822-3217

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Gulkana is one of the most popular rivers in Alaska, known for its excellent sport fishing, easy access for take-in and put-out points, and class III-IV rapids. Soak in the rich history of the river while floating through the wilderness, surrounded by spruce forests, waterfowl nests, and the Wrangell Mountains in plain view. The Gulkana is one of the most popular sportfishing rivers in Alaska, providing rich habitat for rainbow trout, arctic grayling, king salmon, red salmon, whitefish, longnose suckers, and lamprey. A poplular river for fisherman and boaters in the summer, this river has also played an important role in the lives of the Ahtna, providing access to subsistence resoucres throughout history and pre-history. During winter months the frozen Gulkana River was historically used as an important travel route from the Copper River to the Tangle Lakes and what is now known as the Denali Highway area.

Map of Gulkana Nat'l Wild & Scenic River

Latitude, Longitude: 62.116730, -145.523529

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Activities

  • Boating

    There are three main options for floating the Gulkana River. The most popular trip begins at Paxson Lake Campground. It is a 3-4 day trip covering 47 river miles with rapids ranging from Class I to Class IV. A portage around Canyon Rapids may be required for some craft and ability or comfort levels. Typically, canoes, rafts, cata-rafts, and kayaks are utilized. It ends at the Sourdough Campground. The Middle Fork trip launches from the Delta National Wild & Scenic River Wayside or floatplane into Dickey Lake. This is a 5-7 day trip covering 76 river miles. Rapids range from Class I to Class IV. Several portages may be necessary in the upper parts of the Middle Fork and this trip is typically done by canoe. Take-out is also at Sourdough Campground. The last option is the West Fork path that launches at North Branch by float plane on an unnamed lake, or at South Branch by float plane or portages from Lake Louise/Tyone River. A 7-14 day trip covering approximately 110 river miles, rapids range from Class I to Class II and is mostly remote. Several portages may be neceesary in the upper parts of both branches, and it is usually traveled by canoe. Take out is at Sourdough Campground.

    Boating on the Gulkana is not recommended for the novice boater.

  • Camping

    Camping for longer than 14 consecutive days within the river is prohibited without written authorization of the Field Manager at the Glenallen Field Office. From June 1 - July 31, camping in the same location for longer than seven consecutive days on the lower river, and three consecutive days on the Main Stem is prohibited.

  • Fishing

    The Gulkana is considered to be one of the most popular sportfishing streams in Alaska. The lakes have good populations of lake trout, burbot and whitefish. Rivers and streams contain rainbow trout, arctic grayling, king salmon, red salmon, whitefish, long nose suckers, lamprey and steelhead. Fishing licenses can be purchased in Glennallen, Sourdough, Gakona, Paxson, Delta Junction and Tok.

  • Hiking

    There are many trails surrounding this area. Most notably, the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District offers multiple trails near Dickey Lake and parallels the Middle Fork of the Gulkana River.

  • Hunting

    Follow Alaska hunting regulations.

Seasonality/Weather

The Gulkana River running season generally begins in early to mid-June, depending on ice breakup and precipitation. Average annual precipitation, measured in Glennallen, is 12 inches of rain and 44 inches of snow. July is commonly the wettest month. During the summer, temperatures range from 35 F to 70 F with occasional highs in the 80s. However, be prepared for cold, wet weather at any time. By late August, the shorter days and colder temperatures bring the Gulkana River recreation season to an end.

Directions

Driving

From Glennallen, drive northeast about 15 miles on State Highway 1 (Glenn Highway) to State Highway 4 (Richardson Highway). Travel about 20 miles north on Highway 4 to Sourdough Campground. Continue north for an additional 25 miles to the put-in at Paxson Lake Campground.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(907) 822-3217

Links