Top Ten Canoeing and Flatwater Rafting Trips

Chitina/Copper Rivers, Alaska

Difficulty: Class I to III

Season: June through mid-September

Trip Length: Five to ten days

Wrangell/St. Elias National Park and Preserve is the largest national park in the United States. At 13.2 million acres it is more than six times the size of Yellowstone. And here's another superlative: The Wrangell/St. Elias Mountains are the highest coastal mountains in the world. They contain the largest concentration of peaks over 14,500 feet in North America, and have more vertical relief than the Himalayas.

The Copper River system drains these mountains. A favorite river trip starts at the eerie ghost town of McCarthy and then follows the Kennecot, Nizina, Chitina, and finally the Copper River to Prince William Sound. Floating down from the interior of these majestic mountains, river trippers experience braided glacier streams, canyons, and the intricate Copper River delta.

The wildlife is terrific. In the interior, you might spot Dall sheep and mountain goats. And when you hit the Copper River Delta, the party really gets jumping. Be on the lookout for moose and bison, grizzly and black bears, and wolves. The lower Copper River is a breeding ground for 10 percent of the world's trumpeter swans. In Prince William Sound there is an excellent chance to view humpback whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles, and puffins.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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