Tatshenshini River Expedition

12 Days

Tatshenshini River Expedition

The Tatshenshini-Alsek Expedition is a journey back to the ice age down a river forgotten by time. Cutting through the Earth’s largest non-polar ice cap and past some of its most active glaciers, the Tatshenshini- Alsek creates an intensely dramatic, overwhelmingly beautiful, and almost primeval river valley. Protected by five U.S. and Canadian national parks and preserves and part of a 25-million acre UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is part of the largest protected wilderness area in the world.  The Tatshenshini-Alsek has been called one of the last truly wild river systems on Earth and the trip was named the #1 river trip in the world by National Geographic. We are truly honored to be able to show people this place.

Most rivers run from the mountains to the sea and from cooler and higher elevations to the warmer lowlands. The Tatshenshini and the Alsek run through the mountains and to the sea and from sunnier forested hill country to the glacier filled landscape and alpine climate of Alsek Lake.  The trip begins in Canada where the Tatshenshini (or ‘Tat’) is a small river winding through heavily forested canyons and mountains. After an intimate canyon and the most difficult whitewater of the trip, the river begins doubling in size daily, the canyon opens up to epic proportions, and the journey between the towering Alsek and St. Elias mountain ranges truly begins.  After the confluence with the Alsek, the now enormous river flows into Alaska, under the shadow of 15,325’ Mount Fairweather (the world’s tallest coast range mountain), into the ice age world of Alsek Lake, and eventually to Dry Bay and into the Gulf of Alaska.

Throughout the trip you may feel as if you are watching geologic change in real time. The epic struggle between water, ice, erosion, and deposition is clearly visible and many times audible.  Massive glaciers carve their way down the valleys right to the river’s edge. Calving, creaking, scraping and breaking away pieces of the mountains and shoving them into the canyon – battling the river for temporary control of the valleys. Sun, rain, and wind can cycle rapidly through – adding power to the river, snow to the high peaks and glaciers, and chapters to the stories of river journeys. All the while brown and black bear, moose, mountain goats, wolves and wolverines roam the shores and canyons; five species of salmon swim the canyons and tributaries; and bald eagles patrol the sky.

If all this sounds epic, it truly is…  There are not many places left on earth where you feel so small and can see and feel the earth changing right before your eyes.  But there are also the gentle moments and more tranquil details. Sunny afternoons in fields of wildflowers, the smooth power of the current sweeping you through a massive landscape, the surreal way the light plays across the glacial ice, watching a bear lazily forage for berries at dusk, late sunsets over the craggy peaks, majestic icebergs silhouetted in the moonlight and the sound of waves gently lapping against them, the clink of 10,000 year old ice in your favorite evening cocktail, the flickering of the campfire, and the simple joy of being outside in one of the world’s most wild and beautiful places.

Our Tatshenshini-Alsek river trip is done with Momentums signature style, attention to detail, and handcrafted quality. With comfortable and innovative wilderness camping, creative menus, personal service and hospitality, one of the most experienced (and friendly) guide staffs in the world, and with all the little details and touches we are known for.  Our itinerary is designed to allow for plenty of time to explore this wild place, with layover days and time built in for spectacular hiking, glacier exploration, wildlife viewing, and simply relaxing.  And while the area is extremely remote and the weather can be ever changing, you do not need to be an experienced adventurer, an athlete, or to have spent a night under the stars to join us. Participants just need to be adventurous, in reasonable physical condition, and excited to see one of the planet’s last frontiers.

Join us for a journey to one of the world’s most epic wilderness areas. A trip through a primeval landscape dominated by glaciers, high peaks, massive rivers, and wild animals. An ice age wilderness where change happens with the shrug of a glacier and where we are just a temporary and seasonal visitor. It is a chance to truly get away and completely unplug.

Please Note: Our Tatshenshini River trips are run by Momentum Alaska; A partnership between Pete Wallstrom, the owner of Momentum River Expeditions, and guide Erik Meldrum.

Our Tatshenshini / Alsek River trips take place in the wonderfully unpredictable natural environment and there are almost limitless exploration options, Because of this our on river itineraries are always flexible and relaxed to accommodate water levels, weather, and our guest’s needs and interests.

Day 1:
Arrive in the small coastal fjord town of Haines Alaska and check in to the historic Halsingland Hotel. We will have a welcome dinner and orientation. If you arrive early Haines has a walkable downtown with amazing fish and chips. (Hotel and Dinner included)

Day 2:
After breakfast we will start the beautiful 3 hour drive up the Chilkat River valley. With passports ready we cross into Canada and arrive at Daltons Post, our waiting rafts, and the Tatshenshini River.

After lunch we will load our gear and ourselves into the boats, push off, and begin our 140 mile journey from the rolling hills of the Yukon through the Alsek and St. Elias mountain ranges to the sea. For 11 days we will float first on the Tatshenshini and then on the Alsek as they cut through the largest protected wilderness area in the world.

The first day on the water includes the Tatshenshini Gorge and the biggest whitewater of the trip. We then float into our first riverside camp near the Silver Creek area and have a “camp talk” to go over everything you need to know about our comfortable wilderness camping. In the evening we will enjoy our first dinner and night under the stars and begin to settle into life on the ‘Tat’.

Days 3 – 4:
After a hearty breakfast and plenty of time for a second cup of coffee we will break camp and head down river. Day 3 usually involves floating to our first ‘layover camp’ at Sediments Creek. On layovers we spend 2 nights at one camp and have an entire day to explore the area. In this case there will be a shorter or bigger hiking option up to high alpine country, spectacular views of the canyon, and a chance to see wandering mountain goats (or you can just relax along the banks of the river).

Day 5 – 6:
The river has now doubled and doubled again in size. We make our way through braided channels and past increasingly higher peaks. We will spend the nights at places like Alkai, Henshi, and Towagh Creek.

Day 7:
As we cut along the base of the Noisy Range the now massive river narrows and funnels into the lush, almost jungle like ‘S’ turns. We then fly out of the S turns into the spectacular and massive glacier-draped amphitheater that is the confluence with the Alsek.

It is difficult to describe the scale and beauty of this place and it is one of the highlights of the trip. The Greek philosopher Protagoras said that ‘Man is the measure of all things’ – it will be obvious at this point that he never visited the confluence of the Tatshenshini and the Alsek. A beautiful afternoon and night will be spent in this amphitheater in the Melt Creek area.

Day 8:
We had onto the massive Alsek, past towering peaks, and with views of glaciers in every direction. In the afternoon we will pull up to the Walker Glacier and get a chance to see the ice up close. In the evening we can watch the light play over the glacial ice and hear its slow (but loud) movement out of the mountains. This camp is truly spectacular.

Day 9:
Today we usually try and spend the morning getting close to the Walker Glacier before pushing off downstream again towards the ‘Spit’ and Alsek lake. We will pass the Novatak Glacier – part of one of the largest icefields outside of the poles – and below the base of the Brabazon Range. The night is spent on the spit that separates the Alsek river from Alsek lake. At this point the combination of the sheer scale and beauty of the surroundings and the sounds of the glaciers calving into Alsek Lake is almost surreal.

Day 10 – 11:
We make our way into or around the lake to our camp on Gateway Knob. This can be a short or long day depending on iceberg locations and weather. But either way it is worth it. There are few places on Earth with views like this. We will layover here and spend the next two nights along the edge of Alsek Lake with time to explore the Knob and the lake. Weather permitting, we will paddle out into the lake for close up views of the massive icebergs and calving glaciers. If the weather is just right we will see Mount Fairweather rising above the ice and peaks.

Day 12:
After an early morning breakfast, we pack up one last time and head through the ‘bergs’ and back into the current of the Alsek River. Around lunch we float into the Dry Bay outpost where you will say goodbye to most of the guides and take a spectacular small plane flight to Yakutat. Most guests will take the late afternoon Alaska airlines flight to Juneau.
(day 12 includes breakfast, lunch, and the charter plane to Yakutat)

Departure Dates:

June 22 – July 3, 2024 – full
July 10-21, 2024 – 5 spots
July 27-August 7, 2024 – full
August 12-23, 2024 – 4 spots

Trip Length: 12 Days
Trip Price:

$7,495.00 per person, based on double occupancy

    What’s Included:

  • Transportation from Haines, AK and back to Yakutat, AK, including a spectacular small plane flight along the coast.
  • Lodging, dinner night one, and breakfast day two in Haines at the Hotel Halsingland.
  • All river equipment & our innovative and comfortable river camps.
  • All camping gear: including spacious mountaineering tents, cots, pads, and sleeping bags (if needed).
  • Gourmet 3 course meals featuring local and organic produce & products. Find out more >>
  • World-Class guides with experience leading wilderness trips around the globe. Find out more >>
  • A journey to one of the world’s most epic wilderness areas.

Please note:
– We meet you in Haines, AK on the first day of the trip and drop you off in Yakutat, AK on the last. Please give us a call with any questions. This is an amazing place and we can walk you through your travel plans.

– The number of visitors allowed each year is extremely regulated, because of this dates tend to fill up very quickly.

Deposit: $1,000 per person

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