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Dalton Post to Dry Bay - 143 Miles
Timeline:  9 July ~ 18 July 2003
Put-In:  Dalton Post, Yukon Territory   
Take-out:    Dry Bay, Alaska

Navigation Panel:  trip logistics
Tatshenshini packlist map of SE Alaska
trip cost map of Haines
river gauges
Alaskan Satellite Image
Alaska Weather Cams
links list
Haines WeatherCam

River Profile:
Dalton Post to Dry Bay - Class III (IV) - 143 Miles

Latitude/Longitude Coordinates: 59°31'N, 137°14'W

Born the Blanchard River in the Yukon, Alaska's Tatshenshini River becomes the Alsek River after their confluence in the St. Elias Range, British Columbia, and then flows on out to the mighty Pacific ocean where bears feed on migrating salmon and grow to great sizes.

Uplifted onto the highest coastal mountain range on earth, shaken by the strongest earthquakes to strike the North American continent, sculptured by the largest non-polar ice field and glaciers in the world, and eroded by its mighty mile-wide river, the Tatshenshini wilderness has endured. 

A place of such primal intensity and untarnished beauty as to define the word 'wilderness'.

One of the most memorable journeys ever encountered.  The awesome size, beauty, and remoteness of this land make the Tatshenshini one of the greatest river trips in the world.  From its beginnings as a small, rushing whitewater river in the Yukon, to the massive size of the combined Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers, to the incredible beauty of Alsek Lake, the Tatshenshini will fill you with wonder, and will likely make you feel very small, because... you are.

The Tatshenshini-Alsek Park links the three adjacent national parks, Kluane National Park Reserve, Yukon, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska, and Yukon and Tongass Nation Forest, Alaska, to create a 958,000 hectacre ecological unit and bi-national World Heritage Site.
The recently established protections held by the Tatshenshini-Alsek  Provincial Wilderness Park are constantly under attack by the mining industry.

The Tatshenshini flows through the heart of the largest bio-preserve in the world.

Situated in the extremely rugged northwest corner of British Columbia, in 1993 it became the fourth component in the largest international protected area in the world. Half the landscape is permanently covered in snow and ice - the other half fosters forests and tundra and stable populations of wildlife untouched but for a historic aboriginal presence. 

To ensure the preservation of the entire ecosystem, the Tatshenshini River and its tributary, the Alsek River, are completely protected from headwater to source, creating the only large river drainage in North America that is completely safeguarded.  
This means HANDS OFF Gale Norton and Dick Cheney !

The upper reaches fo the Tatshenshini River offer great hiking and wildlife viewing. 
The upper canyon of the Tatshenshini consists of read-and-run Class III~IV rapids with cold and hypothermic conditions claiming the careless like carion.
Only a few accessible trails, basically bear trails, lead you into the high alpine country.
From the top of the mountains you can see glaciers and snowfields, and, likey, mountain goats grazing on the steep mountainside. Boreal white and black spruce forests bordered by poplar, alder and rare vascular plants.
Breathtaking!  Just off the main river are miles and miles of wetland habitat with beaver ponds and perfect nesting grounds for over 40 known species of birds.
As the river gains volume, the Tatshenshini transforms into many braided channels as major tributaries enter the river. 

What is known as a creek in Alaska, is a flood stage river in Colorado.
Around the fifth day of this nine day trip we join the Alsek River.
In a panoramic view of the Tatshenshini/Alsek confluence you see over 27 glaciers  (amongst them, Walker Glacier).
There is more great hiking in this area, and the chance to walk on the ancient ice of a glacier, not far from the river.
One highlight of the trip is often Alsek Lake, where massive glaciers calve off huge chunks of ice. 
We'll have the opportunity to paddle around beautiful icebergs and listen to and watch the glaciers calve. 

Caution: Flooding from waves is likely when camping near Alsek Lake.
The last night's camp has and incredible view of the lake, and you fall asleep to the sounds of the ice.

Dry Bay, Alaska - coastal grizzly country. One fish packing station and loads and loads of bears.
These are the biggest Grizzly in Alaska, they eat LOTS of Wild Salmon.
Spectacular coastal mountains ring this small fishing community.
Either relax at this final camp/runway/fish packing station (and swat bugs), or hike out a few miles to the long sandy beaches of Dry Bay to watch the Pacific surf roll in while the coastal Grizzly bears chase you into the surf.

From Dry Bay, a spectacular 90 minute bush flight takes you back to Haines, enjoying a bird's eye view of the majestic St. Elias Mountain Range - the largest non-polar glacial system in the world.
Or... an even more amazing flight to Yakutat with Dave Russell will equally blow your freakin' mind if you get clear weather, you will be speechless.

Tatshenshini River details:
The Tatshenshini begins as a small river, closely skirted by wooded slopes, then quickly gains speed as it plummets down mountains and swells as its tributaries join it and increase the volume of the river signifcantly. 
The Tatshenshini area is dominated by the St. Elias Mountains, the largest concentration of high peaks in North America, including Mount Fairweather, the highest peak in British Columbia 15,200 feet (4633 metres). Composed of sedimentary, metamorphic and volcanic rocks, the St. Elias mountains have gone through several periods of major uplifting ending about 10 million years ago, that produced 15 summits of more than 13,120+ feet (4000 metres). These peaks are surrounded by massive ice fields which storms blowing in from the Gulf of Alaska build up with eternal ice and snow.
Rivers of ice flow down from these ice fields to melt into frigid rivers or to slide into coastal waters, reshaping the landscape.
** This region possesses the largest sub-polar ice cap in the world. 
An estimated 31 surging glaciers and 350 valley glaciers are present in this incredible area.
Glaciers like the Walker Glacier provide access where one can walk right onto the toe of the glacier.
One of the wildest rivers in the world, on its 186 mile/ 300 kilometer journey to the Gulf of Alaska, the Tatshenshini River runs a ragged course through a variety of terrains from dense forest to deep canyons to broad glacially scoured valleys, carving out the only corridor through the St. Elias Mountains. 

This region has registered some of the most violent earthquakes in North American history including the largest which caused mountains to thrust up 50 feet and surging glaciers to advance half a mile in 5 minutes.  More worrisome, considering mining industry has plans to proceed with a copper mine, was the 1958 quake just 50 kilometres from Windy Craggy Mountain which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and released rock slides, shattered glaciers, split rivers and sank an island.

Biological Diversity:
The forests of the Tatshenshini-Alsek region, influenced by their proximity to the ocean, have an unusual diversity.   From lush coastal forests backing onto the interior mountain domain of dry spruce and tundra, to the alders and alpine meadows on the sweeping lower slopes of the Alsek Range, this watershed is like no other.

Along the coastline, sea lions and humpback whales can be seen from shore; between the coast and the mountains, wildlife includes red fox, wolverine, beaver, coyote, porcupine, marmots and grey wolves.

**Because of its exceptionally productive habitat and remote wilderness environment, the Tatshenshini River basin is one of the last strongholds for the Grizzly in North America.
The Tatshenshini River basin is the only place where the rare sub-species of black bear, the Silver-Blue Glacier Bear, Ursus americanus emmonsi, occurs in Canada.

It also sustains the only year-round populations of Dall's sheep in British Columbia as well as great numbers of Mountain Goats and the huge Kenai moose. As well as the 53 species of mammals, the Tatshenshini also provides nesting sites for about 180 species of birdlife. Bald and golden eagles, hummingbirds, semi-palmated plovers and the rapacious jaegars, ptarmigan and the ruffed grouse all find a home in the park.

Rare waterfowl include both the King and Stellar's eider. The area is furthermore a major breeding site for Trumpeter swans, Harlequin ducks and Gyrfalcons.

** 95% of the Chinook salmon, 90% of the Sockeye salmon and 75% of the Coho salmon for the commercial fishery in the Deep Bay area of the Gulf of Alaska, comes from the Tatshenshini River system -one of the three major salmon bearing rivers on the northern Pacific coast.
What a great place for an open pit Copper mine! Dont you think?!

Archaeologists continue to study the sites of numerous Tlingit (pronounced Kling-it) and southern Tutchone fishing villages located along the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers. The eastern edge of the park follows an ancient trade route used by the Chilkat tribe to barter with the Tutchone tribe whose permanent villages were centres of trade and contact with coastal tribes. Today, Klukshu in the Yukon is still occupied by the Champagne Aishihik people, who have not altered their traditional methods for catching and smoking salmon. Jack Dalton and Edward Glave were the first Europeans to travel the Tatshenshini. Today, their trading post, established during the gold rush at the turn of the century, has been reduced to a couple of collapsing log cabins.

In the mid-1800's, a tragic flood occurred with the sudden expulsion of a huge lake dammed up for years by a glacier that had advanced until it completely blocked the Alsek River. A wall of water 7 metres high and 15 metres wide swept an entire Tutchone village into the sea at Dry Bay. Only the petroglyphs on a rock near the confluence of the Tatshenshini River and the Alsek River and their oral history speak of their presence in the area.

Tat Long Trip MapTatshenshini Logistics:

The Tatshenshini River - a former trade route of the interior Athabascan indians with the coastal Tlingit tribes - is a journey through time and space. A journey back beyond the Jurrassic.  A journey where you begin by acknowledging that if ANYTHING goes wrong, you are fish food or bear shit.

This trip of a lifetime begins in Haines, Alaska.
From Haines the approach is to drive up into the Yukon Territory, into the bush near Dalton Post.
The river trip ends in a remote region called Dry Bay, Alaska.

Downriver by raft to Dry Bay, then, weather-permitting, we hop a bush flight from Dry Bay to Yakutat.  

The gear, and whoever needs, will hop bushplane+gear back to Haines.
I recommend to fly with Air Juneau for the hop from Dry Bay back to Haines.

Bush flight from Dry Bay back to Yakutat. expedition flight

I flew with Dave Russell, at Yakutat Air. Dave is one hell of a good pilot, and knows the Alaskan coast.

Fly Yakutat to Juneau (where you will need to spend the evening) then the next morning fly home.
Yakutat layover - Alaska Air flights leave Yakutat airport daily at 5:30pm.
"Yakutat"  is the Tlingit word for "the place where the canoes rest" Tat Map

Trip Costs: $ Roughly Estimated Price Breakdown: $
item quantity rate / day number of days price
Van to Put-in 1 $ 275 1 $275
Gear Shuttle truck $ 295 1 $295
18' raft  2
$   55 9 $495
16' Raft 1
$   50 9 $450
Toilet System 1 $    3 9 $27
Katadyn H20 Filter 1 $    6 9 $54
Kitchen System 1 $   30 9 $270
Extra Box 1 $    1 9 $9
Bear Spray 4 $    1 9 $36
Food 9 $   16 9 $1296
Satellite Phone 1 $   16 9 $144
Gear Flight out Drybay-Haines 2 $ 700 - $1400
NPS Trip Fee 1 - - $100
 $4751/ # of participants
Your personal flight options

with nine participants =
 $528 / person
Round Trip (Alaska Air)
Denver-Haines-Denver $ 815
Round Trip (Alaska Air)
Denver-Haines-Yakutat-Denver $ 785

bush flights
Dry Bay to Yakutat
1 $ 270/1 plane 
or $540 for two flights
Dry Bay to Haines
1-(weather dependant) $ 650 ~ $850

my trip details

Round Trip
Denver-Seattle $ 300
3-day Inland Passage Ferry From Bellingham-Haines
 $287 per person $ 287
2-berth cabin for 2 nites
$184 for two nites $ 184  (optional)
bush flight DryBay to Yakutat $230/flight divided by 3 $ 76
Yakutat to Seattle Flight (Alaska Air)
1 $ 230
Round Trip
fly Denver-Seattle, then
-Ferry to Haines
fly Yakutat-Seattle-Denver
without cabin= $593
$1366 total cost (est-high)
$1182 total cost (est-low)

Important Dates - Trip Timeline :
July 5,6 Sat, Sun     Ferry to Haines - Alaska Marine Highway System -
July 7  Monday       11:30am - Arrive in Haines, Alaska
July 8 Tuesday  Haines, Alaska - Captains Choice Motel -here's a MAP of Haines, Alaska
July 9  Wednesday    Gather group in Haines and drive 110 miles to PUT-IN at Dalton Post.
July 9~18 (Wednesday~ week+Thursday) -On River- Tatshenshini River -Alsek Park -St. Elias Range
July 18 Friday            Dry Bay - Bush flight to Yakutat - &ampp;&gtt;;Surf Yakutat- Icy Waves Surf Shop
July 19 Saturday        5:30pm DEP Yakutat - 10:00 p.m. ARV Seattle
July 20 Sunday          Seattle - Denver

Trip Pictures:
AlsekLake Yukon GrizzlyGrizzly
Group Day5 day6 Gravel bars Alsek River Hazard #29
Brabazons The Deception Hills side of Alsek Lake

DryBay toYakutat Flight Doors toAlsek Lake

The Most Effective Clothing Against Mosquitoes, Biting Flies and Ticks, as well as UVA and UVB

USDA Forest Service Alaska Region

The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini River with map-Cloudburst Productions)

USGS: Flow

Haines Alaska Info

Alaskan Travel Links

Yakutat Area Chamber of Commerce

Yakutat lodging info

Bear Safety  Ursus arctos horribilis

B.C. Parks and Rec

NPS-Rafting the Tatshenshini

a trip log

Alaska Discovery Trip Notes

River Gauges:
Alsek River near Yakutat Tatshenshini-Dalton Post

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Last Modified: 5/2005