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Old 08-02-2014   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 15
Copper River Alaska

Heading to the Copper River for an epic adventure...

Please share any info on camps, rapids, side hikes, side creeks, hot springs, and anything else you would recommend doing in the area. We are paddling the 244 miles from Slana River to the Million Dollar Bridge.

Is there an accurate gauge for the upper sections?

The Gauge at Million Dollar Bridge is currently at 175,000... wow thats a lot of water!!!

Thanks Buzzers!

Seaver B

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Old 08-02-2014   #2
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 57
The salmon is the best in the world. bring soy sauce and alittle wasabi. Make your own sushi nigiri. No joke.

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Old 08-02-2014   #3
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 383
It's a very large volume braided channel. If you want to stop and explore a specific place, you need to plan way ahead to get from one side to the other. The many braids prevent you from quickly getting to "land." Its like many rivers within a very big river. On occasion, when the many braids end and the majority of the river channelizes, the river takes on its full force. Any near shore eddy line at 100k+ cfs demands due respect. I remember an eddy that looked at least 6-8 vertical feet lower than the main flow/eddy fence. A raft caught in that particular eddy would not be rowing out of it. I really enjoyed floating near shore as opposed to out in the middle. There was always something more interesting happening there. When clear streams joined the "muddy" river the salmon were very easy to see-bring a big fishing net and in those spots you can literally just scoop out 20+lb salmon. Also research the Glacier that enters the river, want to say its called Childs. Im not sure if it is still as big as it was 15 yrs ago, not likely, but it calves into the river and can cause a hazard if you are too close floating by. The bears there have learned the sound of the calving and will come out of the trees to feast on all the salmon deposited on shore by the big waves the falling ice creates. We started our trip in McCarthy, very cool place to explore if you have the chance. Nizina canyon on the way down to the Chitna, then Copper was awesome. Have a great trip! Clear glacier ice makes any whiskey much more delicious!
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Old 08-02-2014   #4
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
I've never run this entire section of the Copper. I have put in at McCarthy and ran the short section of the Kennicott, the Nizina, the Chitina and down the Copper to the Flag Point Bridge.

Great trip with fast current, which means little time on the river unless the wind picks up. As was mentioned above, the river braids and for many miles you will have to choose the best channel to take, or you will find yourself in a dead end situation, meaning that you'll have to line your raft back up to get into the main channel. This means reading the current way ahead of time.

It's also important to run your boats fairly close together to avoid prolonged separation and possibly missing camps or worse. It's pretty easy to become separated and end up on the wrong side of the river and be 2-3 miles from the rest of your group.

Fishing can be great on the few clear side streams, but dip nets work well on the glacially turbid main rivers if you know where to use them. We caught sockeye and silver using both methods. By far the best salmon sushi I've ever tasted. We also grilled several and ate the roe - amazingly delicious. A word of caution: don't plan on catching your meals. Bring more food than you think is necessary, everyone eats way more than usual because of the cool temps. You can re-supply in Chitina, but it'll cost 50-100% more than in Valdez.

The Mosquitos are brutal unless you camp away from the alders and brush - we tried to pick windy, exposed areas. We also brought a screen room and that was used a couple of times (Miles Lake).

Bear activity is prevalent, especially at the mouth of clear salmon spanning creaks.

If you're traveling through Canada, be aware of their strict gun laws and procedures to bring long guns into the country. We never were checked but we were asked for the proper paperwork. If anyone in your group is a convicted felon, or has had a DUI, they may not make it into the country unless they've jumped through the required paperwork and paid the fees that go with it - and even then could have an issue...

We arranged the shuttle with 2 different parties because both couldn't/wouldn't do both phases. One phase has the put in vehicles ferried from Valdez to Cordova. Reserve any hotel rooms in advance as the touron season can be busy.


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Old 08-06-2014   #5
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 15
Thanks for the replies! Great advice especially like the sushi and glacial whiskey suggestions.

Heeding caution to: Bears, Glacial Tsunami's, Braided Streams, Eddylines, Whirlpools, Mosquitos, Cold Weather and Water... (& all things in between)

Looking for a copy of Alaska Fast and Cold, any suggestions? Or if I would be so lucky as to purchase one from someone on this thread... that would be great!

Campsite Suggestions?

Side Excursions: Glacial Hikes (minimal mountaineering equipment available)? Mountains to Summit? Waterfalls? Hot Springs (here's to hoping)?

Again, thanks for the replies and incredibly helpful info! Keep 'em coming!!!

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Old 08-06-2014   #6
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
Didn't know it was out of print and so costly now:

Alaska Fast and Cold - AbeBooks

I might be able to scan the desired section and send as a pdf if you like since its not in circulation anymore. Ping me sideband as it might take some experimenting with my smaller home printer/scanner.

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Old 08-06-2014   #7
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 79
Alaska "Fast and Cold"

I have a copy of this book. I could email sections of it to you. Send me a message so we can connect and I can get you what you want. Sounds like a great trip!


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