Glacier River

Alaskan Glaciers and Whitewater Rivers


Two Alaskan glaciers are the source of whitewater adventure on the Nenana River bordering Denali National Park, Alaska. This glacier fed Alaskan river is known for swift current and exciting whitewater.

Hosting nearly 50,000 adventure travelers each summer, this large volume whitewater river offers spectacular scenery as it traverses the Alaska Range and creates a natural eastern boundary for Denali National Park. From its glacial source, the Nenana River offers several sections of road accessible river miles with adventure for all levels of ability.

Glacial Alaskan whitewater rivers need some special considerations when determining the level of difficulty. Technically, the river is rated class I through class IV, based on an international scale of I (moving, unobstructed current) through VI (extreme hazard). A variety of factors combine to result in a rivers final classification, including: difficulty of river features (i.e., rocks, hydraulics or holes, waves, etc.); water volume and speed; water temperature; difficulty of rescue. While the overall rating is most affected relative to water volume, higher river levels general increase the intensity of all other factors, in Alaska we must also consider “ambient temperatures” and “remoteness of location”.

Glacial river water temperatures are obviously very cold. Of course, spring run-off in the Rocky Mountains is cold water but the air temperature is generally 80 degrees or above in the summer; whereas, average temperatures in Denali Park are commonly in the 50’s and 60’s. Additionally, the nearest primary care facility (hospital) is 2 hours drive away, in Fairbanks. This does not include evacuation time. Consequently, we cannot spare any precaution in the prevention of systemic injury, such as Hypothermia.

Unlike a “wetsuit,” the individual wears layers of clothing underneath the suit to insulate, making the suit far more comfortable and sanitary in a commercial use situation. On a warm day one layer of long sleeves, long pants and warm socks is adequate. In the event of colder temperatures, it is recommended to add layers, similar to snow skiing.

Comfort, Confidence and Safety

Latex Neck Seal

Latex Sock

Neoprene River Bootie

Latex Wrist Seal