Mile 0 – Put-In at Dalton Post: The put-in for the Tatshenshini is at Dalton Post, about 100 miles northwest of Haines in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Four wheel drive is highly recommended. Dalton Post is an area shared by rafting groups and fishermen. Be respectful and communicative with any other groups in the area. Private trips typically chose to arrive at the put-in early and launch on the same day, or camp at the put-in and begin early the following morning. If you elect to camp, consolidate vehicles, gear, and tents in a way that allows space for others.
Mile 0 – Opening Stretch: Class II. The major whitewater of the Tatshenshini comes on day one. Leading up to the Tat canyon is around five miles of swift-moving Class I-II. Take this opportunity to get a feel for the weight of the boat and make any adjustments before the canyon.
Mile 5 – Tatshenshini Canyon: After five miles of relatively flat water, the river will constrict into a canyon for the next five miles. At high water, this section is Class IV+, potentially Class V given the wilderness environment. Learn more about Tatshenshini Canyon.
Mile 5.05 – Wall #1: Class IV. A long, fast moving straight away will lead you into the rapids known as Wall #1 and Wall #2. Stay to the inside (river right) as the river turns to the right. Be aware that lower water exposes rocks and boulders on the inside of turns. The opaque glacial water makes these rocks difficult to see.
Mile 5.2 – Wall #2: Class IV. Immediately after Wall 1, the river again turns to the right. Same as before, stay off the wall to the inside of the turn (river right). The inside of Wall 2 features larger boulders than Wall 1, especially at low water. Your group plan should be to catch the eddy on river right just after Wall 2 to regroup and prepare for Black Bear Rapid.
Mile 5.35 – Black Bear Rapid: Class IV. A boulder garden straightaway with numerous waves, holes, and pour-overs, finishing with a sharp left turn. The major hazard here is a hole that sits right of center just above the left hand turn. From the eddy, work your way left of center and remain in this current to avoid the hole and wall at the bottom.
Mile 6.2 – Thread The Needle: Class III. Nearly a mile of Class III busy water will bring you to Thread the Needle. After a slight turn to the right, catch an eddy on the right to view the two rocks sticking above the surface. Line yourself up to go right between them.
Mile 7.6 – M&M Falls: Class IV. Oftentimes the most challenging rapid in the canyon, you need precise maneuvering to get this one right. Learn more about M & M Falls.
Mile 11 – Squaw Creek: River Left. Small, river left tributary. This marks the official end of the canyon. Start looking for wood here as there may be little at Silver Creek and Bridge River campsites.
Mile 11.5 – Silver Creek Confluence: River Right. This is the best, first campsite available after running the canyon. Learn more about Silver Creek.
Mile 13 – Bridge River Confluence: River Right. Bridge River is located about one and a half miles below Silver Creek and is another option for camping the first night. There are islands in the Tat directly above the tributary. At high water, you can sneak right of the islands giving you a nice easy approach. Lower water shuts that channel down, giving boats very little time to ferry river right below the confluence. If you nail the approach, look for camping just downstream of Bridge River. The Yukon, British Columbia border is less than a mile below the confluence.
Mile 13.5 – Yukon/British Columbia Border: The Tatshenshini River passes from the Yukon Territories into British Columbia.
Mile 25 – Detour Creek: River Right. To the west of the Tatshenshini is the larger Alsek river. The Alsek River’s proximity to larger glaciers makes it subject to more dynamic forces and radical changes than the Tat. One of those dynamic forces is the surging of glaciers which will occasionally form temporary dams in the river. There is a theory that the Tweedsmuir Glacier surged forward to dam the Alsek River above Turnback Canyon creating a lake. The lake levels grew high enough that the Alsek flooded up Range Creek and began spilling over the mountain pass at the top of Detour Creek, into the Tatshenshini. Hence the name, “Detour” creek. Eventually the Alsek found a way through the glacial dam and returned to its natural course. This is a prime example of how wild and ever changing this river system is.
Mile – Hunting Cabin: River Left. This hunting cabin is the only human structure you will see on the river. It is located on private property and typically used later in the season when float planes can land on the calm channels below the Detour Creek confluence. The hunting cabin should not be visited. You can find good camping, lunch stops, and wood in this section.
Mile 33 – Bear Bite Creek: River Right. This creek sometimes gets mistaken for Sediments as groups are searching for the more popular campsite. There is plenty of space to camp here. The next major tributary on the right is Sediments Creek.
Mile 35 – Sediments Creek: River Right. This popular camp has a wonderful hiking trail. Learn more about Sediments Creek.
Mile 44 – Alkie Creek: River Right. At this point the river changes from channelized to braided. Learn more about Alkie Creek.
Mile 44.5 – Monkey Wrench Rapid: Class III. A read and run Class III rapid directly after the confluence with Alkie Creek. The proposed Windy Craggy Mine selected this site to build a bridge that would cross the Tatshenshini. The name of the rapid pays homage to boaters who may have helped disrupt surveying efforts on a bridge that was thankfully never built.
Mile 47 – Unnamed Tributary: River Right. A large river delta with ample space for a campsite.
Mile 48 – O’Connor River: River Left. This confluence marks the entrance to the “Wind Tunnel” Learn more about the O’Connor River confluence.
Mile 50 – Tkope River: River Left. This is a major tributary. Learn more about the Tkope River confluence.
Mile 52 – Unnamed Tributary: River Left. Potential for camping upstream and downstream of the confluence exists but depends on how close the Tat brings you to the trees and more solid ground. There is an eddy with clear water at the very end of the beach, depending on water levels.
Mile 52.5 – Unnamed Tributary: River Right. Typically the Tat stays on the left side of the valley far away from this tributary. If enough water is going right, there is major potential here for an awesome hike and camping. Don’t force going here unless it looks certain otherwise you could spend the remainder of the day dragging boats.
Mile 56 – Henshi Creek: River Right. Both “Tats” and “Henshi” creek are named from the original maps that had the text Tatshenshini written across them. The Henshi Creek delta is massive,, measuring in a 1.5 miles at its widest point. There is plenty of space upstream of the confluence for camping, but very little protection from the wind. If the channels cooperate, the best campsite is downstream of the confluence in trees. There is a lot of potential for hiking up Henshi Creek as it remains flat and open for some time. You will likely contend with stream crossings and sections of soft silt along the way.
Mile 58.2 – Unnamed Tributary: River Left. A small, mostly dry delta with potential for camping and trees to shelter from wind. This delta is a dried outflow channel from the tributary found just upstream. If you follow the dried delta a mile through the forest it will connect with the main tributary. This river valley is flat, narrow, and after three miles of hiking leads into a beautiful canyon. Exploring this rarely visited valley has a lot of potential, depending on how much water is flowing in the tributary.
Mile 61 – Tomanhous Creek: River Left. The next major delta on river left is Tomanhous Creek. Tomanhous and Tats Creek enter the Tat within 500 meters of each other, channelizing the Tatshenshini significantly. From this zone you can typically hear boulders tumbling on the bottom of the river, giving the illusion of thunder in the distance. The Tomanhous delta extends for nearly a mile before the confluence, providing ample space but only one cluster of trees for wind protection. Downstream of the confluence has another cluster of trees that can be somewhat far from the river.
Mile 61.5 – Tats Creek: River Right. The proposed Windy Craggy Mine was to be located at the headwaters of Tats Creek where large copper deposits currently lay unmolested. Not ideal for camping, but you might be able to find something.
Mile 63 – Clear Water: River Right. Clear Water pools flowing into the Tat from the forest above.
Mile 64.5 – Towagh Creek: River Left. An impressive outwash hosting some of the best campsite and hiking opportunities in this stretch.
Mile 65 – Towagh Creek Campground: River Left. This excellent campground is located just past the Towagh Creek delta. Learn more about Towagh Creek Campground.
Mile 66.5 – Basement Creek: River Left. This is the last major tributary before the river enters into a more channelized stretch called the S-Turns. You may be able to find camping here.
Mile 68 – S-Turns: Class III+. Channelized series of fast moving S-turns. Learn more about the S-Turns.
Mile 71 – S-Turn Right Camp: River Right. If there is enough water in the right channel here, you can camp on this beach. Just be sure there is enough water.
Mile 72.5 – S-Turn Left Camp: River Left. A flat, firm, wooded campsite on river left after a 90° right bend in the S-Turns.
Mile 74.5 – Clear Water: River Right. Clear water filling into an eddy from the forest above.
Mile 75 – Ninetyeighter Creek: River Left. Below the S-Turns is a former substantial tributary that has been reduced greatly due to glacial recession. Nightyeighter creek is fed by the Melbern Glacier, and is currently little more than a trickle as its source has slinked further into the mountains.
Mile 77 – Melt Creek: River Left. Up until this point nearly all of the tributaries of the Tatshenshini have been some shade of steely gray or brown. Melt Creek’s vibrant blue color is a significant change. The Melbern, Staircase, and Konamoxt Glaciers all melt into a massive lake. With no current to carry it downstream, the heavy granite sediment has time to settle to the bottom of the lake. This leaves only minerals that dissolve in the water, primarily Calcium Carbonate, giving the lake and Melt Creek its vibrant color.
Mile 77.2 – Melt Creek Campsite: River Left. This is a beautiful, popular camp. Learn more about Melt Creek Campsite.
Mile 78 – Petroglyph Island: Petroglyph Island has a trail leading to one of the only signs that indigenous Tlingit and Athabascan people lived in this area. Learn more about Petroglyph Island.
Mile 80 – Alsek/Tat Confluence: River Right. The center of the universe. Learn more about the Alsek confluence.
Mile 82 – Reynolds Glacier: River Right. If you work right at the confluence, you should find enough water heading to the confluence of Reynolds Creek. The upstream side of the drainage should have some clear water pools bubbling out of the silt. If groups were unable to find camping at the confluence, you may be able to find something slightly downstream of the Reynolds.
Mile 85 – Chive Island: Staying river right after the confluence you will encounter two small islands. The larger is known as Chive Island and is nice place to have lunch, find clear water, and go for a short walk.
Mile 86 – Netland Glacier: River Left. Exploring river left after the confluence brings boats alongside lush forests with good potential for bear and moose sightings. The Netland Glacier comes nearly all the way to the river, stopping just shy to form a glacial lake.
Mile 90 – BC/US Border: The widest part of the valley occurs at the Alaska, British Columbia Border. If you look downstream on river right you can see a line cut in the trees outlining the diagonal border. Staying right, but still in the main flow, gives access to a few miles of beaches and trees for potential campsites. Staying left is the faster route to Walker Glacier and gives access to the Nose Hike.
Mile 92 – The Nose Hike: The left channel directly above Kodak Corner has a challenging hike that gives hikers views upstream to the confluence and downstream to Walker Glacier. From the Alsek, there is a rocky streambed that penetrates the thick forest. Follow the stream bed almost a mile until you can switch back to the right towards Kodak Corner. Continue that course for as long as the views are good!
Mile 95 – Kodak Corner: River Right. For much of the descent from the Confluence, the river gives the false impression that it will simply dead end at a towering mountain. The alpine glacier above is appropriately known as The End Glacier. Turning the corner opens up the first views of Walker Glacier. Things go from spectacular to breathtaking, inspiring decades of photographs. If the channels look deep and wood free you can elect to take the corner tight to the left to set up a guaranteed entrance to the Walker Glacier campsites. Boats can also stay on the left side of the main flow and look for the best channels leading towards Walker.
Mile 97 – Walker Glacier Camp: River Left. Walker Glacier Camp can fit three large groups. Learn more about Walker Glacier Camp.
Mile 97 – Walker Glacier: The name Walker Glacier comes from the pioneer raft guides who thought it an appropriate name for a glacier where you could simply step out of your boat and walk on the ice. Whether traveling down the Tatshenshini or Alsek, this was most people’s first opportunity to get up close and personal with the ice. Walking on a glacier is a unique opportunity to understand the nuances within these massive blue sheets of ice carving out the valleys. Feel the power of something ancient and hopefully take a sip of the cleanest water on the planet. Learn more about Walker Glacier.
Mile 98.5 – Dipper Creek: River Right. If you need clear water after leaving Walker Camp, there is a lovely waterfall on river right.
Mile 99 – Sapphire Glacier: River Left. Sapphire Glacer is notable for its deep, blue color, a result of constantly fracturing ice from long, active icefall.
Mile 101.5 – Salmonberry Slough: River Right. A large backfilling eddy that extends deeper into the forest than first glance. This is a nice place to take a break from the wind, eat some lunch from the boats, collect clear water for filtering, and eat some salmonberries from the bushes lining the bank.
Mile 101.5 – Cat in the Washing Machine Rapid: Class III. Confusing waves and holes on the outside of a turn below Salmonberry Slough.
Mile 102 – Unnamed Creek: River Right. This short creek is fed by the same icefield as the Reynolds Glacier from below the confluence.
Mile 113 – Novatak Camp: River Right. A half-mile above the Novatak confluence is an old river delta which provides flat, somewhat protected camping. If the weather is good, this is a remarkable place to camp for the night. If the weather is bad and you need to stop before Alsek Lake, consider camping on river left just before the river turns south.
Mile 113.5 – Novatak Glacier: River Right. The Novatak Glacier comes into view as the Alsek takes another dramatic turn south towards Alsek Lake. On a clear day, this is one of the most remarkable stretches of river. To the north over the Novatak, it is possible to see North America’s second tallest mountain, 19,551ft Mt. Logan. To the west, the Brabazon Range supports lush forests and dozens of alpine glaciers. The south and east expose new vantage points of the Fairweather Range and the substantial valley glaciers ending just above river level. 15,000 ft Mt. Fairweather eventually comes into view beyond Alsek Lake. There is an excellent place to find wood on river left just before the river turns south. There are plenty of clear creeks on river right as you approach Alsek Lake.
Mile 114.5 – Peninsula Hike: River Left. There is a wonderful hike and potential camping spot on river left above the scout and entrance into Alsek Lake. Get left early and look for a long gravel bar and eddy. There is a trail south that leads through the forest to a corner of Alsek Lake. The hike is easy with ample wildflowers along the way. From this point, it does take some hard rowing to make it river right for the Alsek Lake scout. Strong boaters won’t have much issue, just keep pulling hard.
Mile 116 – Alsek Lake Scout: When the Alsek transitions from braided to a massive single channel, start looking for an eddy and scree slope on the right to walk up and get a view of the lake. On all but the cloudiest of days you should be able to get a clear view of the lake entrance.
Mile 117 – Alsek Lake: The entrance into Alsek Lake is one of the most unique rafting experiences you will find anywhere on the planet. The Grand Plateau and Alsek Glaciers descend from the heart of the Fairweather Range to water level, creating a massive lake within the Alsek drainage. Gateway Knob sits in the southwestern corner near the exit of the lake, providing groups with the most remarkable campsites on the drainage. Learn more about Alsek Lake and Doors 1, 2, & 3.
Mile 117 – Long Island: A narrow forested island directly north of Gateway Knob. Groups choosing Door 3 will pass Long Island on the right. Groups choosing Door 2 will pass Long Island on the left.
Mile 118 – Gateway Knob: This is the best camp on the river with a wonderful hike. Learn more about Gateway Knob.
Mile 123 – Boat Flipping Wave: Class III. There is a massive, boat flipping hole in the center of the river three miles from the exit of Alsek Lake that is way too obvious to hit. You can both hear and see it well in advance. Don’t play around with this one, it will eat your lunch.
Mile 128 – Clear Water, Unnamed Creek: River Right. Commercial groups sometimes elect to fill up water one more time before arriving in Dry Bay. Weather can delay takeout flights so it’s nice to be prepared for all outcomes.
Mile 131 – Alsek River Take-Out and Airstrip: River Left. The take out is about 11 miles from the exit of Alsek Lake. After a large right turn in the river make sure your boats are positioned on river left. A tall cut bank on river left will give way to a large cobble beach, that’s your takeout. At this point you should have already made arrangements to be picked up by someone from Dry Bay. The airstrip is approximately 1.5 miles away from here. Learn more about the Alsek takeout.
Mile 131.1 – Former Takeout Channel: River Left. For years the original rafting groups were able to take a small channel at the end of the takeout beach all the way to the airstrip. The rising land at the takeout due to Isostatic Rebound has made that impossible unless the water is very high. If most of the campsites at Gateway Knob are flooded, you might be able to float this channel all the way. If you think this is possible, stop in the normal spot and walk down to have a look at the channel. When possible, floating to the aistrip is preferable.