From the mountainous interior to the coast!
The Copper River is the only waterway to cut through the mighty Chugach Mountains, from the dry interior of the Wrangell-St. Elias to the lush Copper River Delta, just miles from the salty waters of Prince William Sound. The changing landscape includes everything you think of when you think “Alaska” – white-capped mountains, glaciers calving into the water, wildlife sightings and the world-famous salmon run! The historic waterway allows access to spectacular terrain and unforgettable views, making this the quintessential Alaskan rafting trip!
8 Years old
Private 4-6 Participants
Private 7-9 Participants
Private 10-12 Participants
Group Trip Rates determined by # of Participants
Group Trip Dates
July 22-28, 2023
Aug 12-19, 2023
Private Trips with custom dates are available. Schedule a call with our Expedition Coordinator to plan your Private Trip today!
The “Alaska Factor”
There is a reason Alaska has such a rugged allure for the lower 48 and beyond: it is still wild! This raw and untamed landscape offers our clients the opportunity to authentically pioneer new territory and have real adventures. Part of embracing the “Alaska Factor” is understanding that things may not always go as planned and expecting the unexpected. Water levels might rise, snow might fall, glaciers may shift and move – the landscape is dynamic and unpredictable is what makes Alaska, Alaska!
All of our Copper River rafting trips are customized as they unfold and your guide will fluidly make decisions based on weather, logistics, and group dynamics to maximize each day’s experience. There can be quite a bit of variation, but on each trip we promise a big slice of the real Alaska and authentic adventure!
Each morning we will wake to a delicious breakfast and load the boats for another day on the water. We will spend anywhere from four to eight hours on the water each day, depending on water level, wind, weather and side hikes. As we move through the Chugach Mountains and watch landscape will change and we will take opportunities to get out of the boat and explore – perhaps a short hike up an old creek bed to get a higher view, or maybe we’ll push through some aders to find a old and hidden railroad tunnel! We’ll make a day of exploring the great Bremner Sand Dunes, a sight to behold as you take our shoes off and dig our toes into the sand right next to bear and moose tracks, with towering snow-capped peaks overhead!
Each day will include a break for lunch – a fresh deli spread to enjoy with spectacular mountain views. For camps, we get the luxury of choosing our own sites for the majority of the trip and have a few favorite spots to share with you!
The river narrows again at Baird Canyon and then opens up wide and still as we approach Abercrombie Rapids. Here grizzly bears often line the banks to fish for the infamous Copper River Red Salmon that must travel through this narrow passage on their way upstream to spawn. We will ride the huge wave train into the enormous Miles Lake, where seals surround the boat in their curiosity and icebergs tower above us. The scenery here is more lush and the wildlife is different – we are definitely getting closer to the coast!
Exploring Miles Lake and the Miles Glacier, we’ll eventually take the current toward the towering face of the Child’s Glacier. These days are filled with glacier exploration, boat access providing unique hiking opportunities and close-up views of these massive rivers of ice! Weaving through icebergs during the day and listening to the crashing of calving ice at night, we’ll follow the western channels as we approach the widening river delta, catching sightings of the abundant wildlife that inhabits this prolific landscape.
After a few hour float, we will end our river journey at “Flag Point”, where the Copper River Highway (Alaska-speak for gravel road) crosses the river. Here our van will be waiting. You will repack your personal items into your own luggage while your guides dismantle the boats other gear. We will then drive 25 miles into the small fishing town of Cordova for showers, dinner and a gradual re-entry into the civilized world.
At the end of this trip, we recommend spending the night in Cordova or even a few days to enjoying some sea kayaking, fishing, hiking and exploration of this historic and remote town. We are happy to help arrange lodging in Cordova for you and point you in the direction of excellent local outfitters.
There are no roads connecting Cordova to the rest of the state. Commercial flights are available to Anchorage, bush flights to other Alaskan towns, and the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system has sailings from Cordova to Valdez and other Alaskan towns for a marvelous alternative to flying.
GET IN TOUCH
On Basecamp Trips we fly out into the wilderness and set up camp near the airstrip. From here we explore the area on a series of day hikes with lighter packs or paddles and return to the same camp every night.
Basecamp Trips are recommended for beginner campers, families with younger children, and those with injuries that may prevent them from carrying a heavy pack. We also recommend these trips for those looking for a more relaxing experience, though please note that all the terrain in the Wrangells is quite rugged so some level of athleticism is always required to get around the wilderness.
On Mini-Backpacking Trips we fly to a backcountry destination and strap on our heavy backpacks, taking a short hike to set up our first camp. Over several days, we will explore different areas on day-hikes, moving camp at least once again.
Mini-Backpacking Trips are perfect for those newer to camping and backpacking or those looking for a less physically strenuous backpacking experience in rugged Alaska. Great for kids 12 and up!
On Point-to-Point Backpacking Trips we take 4-8 days to get from backcountry destination A to backcountry destination B, moving camp every night, being completely self-sufficient, and carrying all our gear on our backs.
Our Backpacking Trips are different in difficulty as well as terrain and scenery and each presents a unique series of challenges. Alaska requires more and burlier gear which means heavier packs and the terrain and weather can be relentless – do not underestimate the challenges a trail-less wilderness presents! We do not offer any “easy” backpacking trips and do not recommend these trips for first-time or beginner backpackers.
On Rafting Trips we usually spend 2-6hrs on the river every day, stopping for lunch and short, scenic hikes before making a camp in the wilderness. Our rafting trips are scenic floats, allowing access to otherwise unattainable views and covering more miles than you ever could on foot, with some class II-III rapids in between. Rafting trips allow a slightly more “luxurious” wilderness experience than backpacking or basecamp hiking – easier on the legs, a more casual daily schedule with more time at camp, no backpack burden, more elaborate meals with fresher ingredients, etc.
We raft a few different rivers in the Wrangells and each has unique scenery and logistics, some involving bush flights and some ending way out on the coast! We recommend our rafting trips to anyone looking for a wilderness experience at a very comfortable pace, those wanting to spend quality time with their group, or those hoping to relax while still seeing a lot. Kids ages 8+ are welcome.
On Mountaineering Expeditions we access remote big-mountain terrain, usually landing on ski planes to climb and ski some of the tallest peaks in Alaska’s endless mountain kingdom! We offer small-group objective-based expeditions where the goal is to safely summit and descend a remote peak, play-style expeditions where we set up a basecamp to access some shorter but epic lines, and technical courses where the goal is to learn and practice mountaineering techniques and skills (see below). We climb and ski in a wilderness style – there are no fixed lines, no sherpas, no busy basecamp scenes and established camps, no weather stations, and usually no one on the mountain except our team. This is a different style of climbing and takes strong mental and physical fortitude as teams must be completely self-sustained. All mountaineering trips include Trip Packages with transportation and lodging logistics included (Anchorage to Anchorage).
Our mountaineering expeditions are recommended for those looking to access some of the most remote and wild mountain terrain on the planet. Each trip has a difficulty level, requires vetting and a mountaineering resume. Some trips require guide references.
On Technical Courses the goal is to learn technical skills and put them into practice on Alaska’s unique glaciated terrain. Our courses vary in length and can be highly customizable
Technical Courses are recommended for those wanting to focus on skill-building and excited to learn in an incredible outdoor classroom. All skill levels are welcome. We are not affiliated with any learning institution and these courses do not provide any type of certification. That said, we hope that what we teach you and your experience is memorable and transforms your mountain confidence and abilities!
We pride ourselves on cooking healthy and delicious meals even under the most adverse conditions! Your exact menu will depend on the trip, your guide, and the dietary preferences/restrictions you list in your Trip Application. No matter what kind of cook your guide is at home, all our guides are well-trained backcountry chefs and use time-tested recipes from our proprietary cookbook for their trips. We carry a plentiful and varied stock of ingredients and most meals are prepared from scratch (allowing for easy substitutions, additions or subtractions of ingredients). We onlyt use pre-packed freeze-dried meals on summit pushes on our mountaineering expeditions.
On our backpacking and basecamp trips, you can expect 3 meals a day, plus snacks of your choice. Breakfasts and dinners are usually hot meals and lunches are served cold. On mountaineering trips lunches consist of a variety of snacks as it can be hard to organize group meals while on a rope team.
We use a combination of fresh, dehydrated, and freeze-dried ingredients to make our delicious meals, however on longer backpacking and mountaineering trips your guides will use more freeze-dried foods than fresh foods to keep pack weights as low as possible. On our rafting trips, we cook full multi-course meals with fresh ingredients and enjoy hot and cold breakfasts, cold lunches and hot dinners.
Meals for most trips start with Lunch on the first day and end with Lunch on the last day. *
*If you are signed up for a Custom Trip Package with us, it may include more meals. Check with us if you’re not sure. Mountaineering trips also include meals in McCarthy before and after the backcountry expedition.
We understand that you may have luggage or things you don’t want to bring into the backcountry with you so we have a designated area at our headquarters where your guide will label and store your stuff while you’re out. This area is not locked, however, we have never had any issues with loss or damage. If you have a small item of great value that you are particularly nervous about, we may be able to store it in our office for you – just ask your guide.
On the Chitina River, Copper River, Source to Sea, or Custom Trips with different start and end points, any luggage you leave behind with us will be brought out to meet you at the end of the trip.