Canoeing and rafting the Gulkana River, Alaska (Part 1)

The Gulkana River, Alaska has easy access and great fishing. Here is a brief description of the river and my second and Brady’s first paddle on the Gulkana.

Crossing Paxon Lake to get to the Gulkana River, Alaska

This photo was taken heading south across the 3 mile crossing from the Paxson Lake campground to the start of the Gulkana on the southwestern tip of the lake. My advice is to get onto Paxson Lake no later than 7 am under any circumstances, well, unless you are getting towed across. The wind picks up making the crossing strenuous and dangerous.

floting the gulkana river, alaska

Brady Gross taking a break in the Class II rapids that span three miles below the lake.  We had just come out of a bit of a harrowing experience after being swept into a narrow fast channel.  We were moving too quickly through the brush to see what was ahead. So fun.


Mike Knoche looking uptight as usual. The sun disappeared pretty much for the rest of the day after this.  The winds howled and we paddled our arses off. Cameras did not come out much unfortunately. Saw a big bull moose with full velvet antlers. I heard about 20-25 species of birds on this trip.

Gulakana River Canyon, alaska

Starting the canyon rapids.

gulkanan river alaska portage

gulakana river alaska canyon rapids

Brady makes his first run in Class III rapids with little hesitation.  We crushed those rapids and even went through some backwards just to show it who’s boss.

canyon rapids of the gulkana

gulkana river alaska

Heading into the pour over above.

pour over rapid at the gulkana river canyon, alaska

We hit our target exit and pulled off for a sunny lunch.  It seemed like mother nature was going to make up for the previous days harsh treatment.  I was mistaken.  The sun would last only a short while and we would soon be in strong winds again.  However, the current was swift and the next 9 miles of rapids were a blast.  Brady and I were in a rock solid groove sliding between rocks, avoiding loads of sweepers, and just having fun.

I’ll post a few more pics of the river from another trip later on.

For more stories and info about Alaska check these articles:

Northern lights viewing in Alaska

Moose hunting in northern Alaska

Biking at 40 below zero

Orca (killer whale) viewing near Seward, Alaska

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