The Worldclass River Guides in Alaska
Chilkat Guides was founded in 1978 by Bart Henderson after he led the first guided trip down the Tatshenshini River. Since then we have been expanding our knowledge of the region as well as our trip offerings. We have the best guides in the business. Chilkat Guides has a Guide School, where men and women can go through a demanding hands-on guide training. Rafting is our specialty, lasting memories are our business.
Each year we work to make our expedition trips a safe, fun, and memorable time for you our guests. It is our guides’ love for their jobs and love for the beauty of the wonders surrounding us that makes Chilkat Guides a top pick for expedition rafting trips. We exceed all safety standards and our guides are some of the most talented and qualified rafters in the business. Our guides are locals to the region and can share with you the “inside story” that guides from elsewhere may not understand.
We offer 10-day Tatshenshini trips, 13-day Alsek trips, and 11-day Kongakut trips. These are expedition-style trips as we’ll be camping in tents as we travel down the rivers. Additionally, May through September we also have daily floats for incredible wildlife viewing through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines, Alaska.
One of the reasons Chilkat Guides offers more than one expedition trip is because people’s preferences are different. You get to choose which expedition most suits you. Wildlife, incredible scenery, and fun are all included on each trip.
The Tatshenshini is the premier Alaska introductory experience. We’ll begin in the Yukon, with a short whitewater section and travel south through British Columbia and eventually into Alaska. Glaciers mark the lower section of the river where the “Tat” confluences with the Alsek.
The Alsek is the big sister to the “Tat” and is a bit more rugged. The Alsek begins above tree-line in the Alpine country. Incredible hiking, glaciers, bears are all highlights of the Alsek. There is a helicopter portage involved that may be a highlight of your trip.
The Kongakut is our exclusive Northern trip in Alaska, traversing the plains of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), where over 50,000 caribou migrate annually. Flowing almost as far north as possible, the Kongakut boasts natural beauty and wildlife that has until recently, has been undisturbed by human-kind.
All age groups enjoy our expeditions. There are avid rafters who have been rafting for many years and then there are those who are experiencing rafting trips for the first time! Come with a group of friends or come alone and make new friends.
Rivers are classed on a scale of I – V. Class I is a float trip and Class V is big whitewater. Our expeditions are mostly Class II float trips with occasional Class III rapids for added excitement!
18’ Inflatable rafts. Similar to large canoes, but slower on the river and more suitable for traveling rivers, these are the safest craft to use for this region. Four guests are carried in each raft oared by one experienced guide (Tat and Alsek.) The Kongakut is a paddling trip and all participants will paddle.
Tat/Alsek- There is one guide per raft, typically 3 rafts per expedition and the guides do the rowing. You are free to just relax, take photos, and take in as much as possible. We always have paddles available for anyone who wishes to paddle. Kongakut- One guide captains and we’ll all paddle. This is truly an audience participatory type trip! If you don’t have paddle experience, no problem. Our guides are excellent teachers and by the end of day one, you’ll feel like a true rafting professional.
All our expeditions are camping adventures and require you to sleep in tents. We provide you with a top quality, free standing expedition tent. These are based on double occupancy and if you would like a tent to yourself, please let us know.
You provide your personal gear and we provide the rest: top-quality tents, river gear, kitchen and camping equipment and bush plane transportation. When you request information about our expedition trips, we will send you an information packet that gives a detailed list of what clothing and items you should bring. Feel free to call us, as we can help personalize your experience, and help ensure the best trip possible for your Northern Expedition.
We have three guidelines for our nutritious and delicious food selection: quality, quantity and variety. If you have special needs or desire a copy of our detailed meal descriptions, please let us know. With advanced notice we can accommodate most special dietary requirements (indicate on your pre trip questionnaire). Snacks and treats are provided, but if you have any special favorites, feel free to bring some along. We are able to adapt to special diet requirements. The earlier we know about any dietary considerations, the better we can prepare for them.
Each adventure is scheduled to allow for maximum opportunities to see the wildlife of that particular area. The Alsek and Tatshenshini are below tree line and we can see dall sheep, moose, black bear, grizzly bear, and wolf. The north is rich in wildlife even if it is not readily seen. Our guides will do their best to point out animal “sign” such as tracks, scat, bear scratching posts, etc. as they come across them. The interpretation of natural history is a significant focus on our trips. We do our best to impart our knowledge of the geology, wildlife and prehistory of the area.
Depending on what trip you are on, you may see different wildlife. You are more likely to see more bears on the Alsek and more moose on the Tat. The Kongakut provides great viewing of caribou herds. Other wildlife you may see are dall sheep, mountain goats, wolves, lynx, wolverine, ducks, geese, swans, eagles, falcons, hawks, and salmon.
Each day varies, but when we are moving down river, we’ll typically spend about four to six hours in the rafts. Don’t worry, we’ll pull over for bathroom stops, breaks, hikes, lunches and just to stop and view the wildlife. Additionally, we’ll schedule “lay-over” days, when we won’t be moving down-stream, rather just staying in one spot for two nights, to allow for the incredible bigger hikes or bigger scenery experiences.
It is difficult to quantify the difficulty or ease of any experience, but a few examples may be helpful. We have had people in their seventies as well as those as young as 12 years. We try to gear the pace to accommodate a wide variety of abilities. Attitude tends to be the main criterion, so come prepared to relax and enjoy the Great North.
The “biffy” in every campsite is established in a private location and well away from the camp and any water. In the “Arctic” where there are no trees, we set up a tent that works both to keep you out of the bugs and to provide you with the necessary privacy.
Populations of mosquitoes on the Alsek, Tatshenshini, and Kongakut vary with temperature, rainfall and wind. As they are in semi-alpine or well drained areas, generally we try to choose campsites that have a slight breeze to be as “mosquito free” as possible. However, on occasion we may be unable to avoid them. In these situations, you will be glad to have mosquito repellent and a head net or bug jacket (Kongakut.)
Our Tundra journeys are timed to coincide with the blooming of the flowers of the area. Pick a late June or early July adventures on the Tatshenshini or Alsek River if this is of prime interest.
We have a wonderful guiding staff! All our guides are highly qualified and certified in first aid, water rescue, and paddling. They are experienced in safety, natural history, wilderness and river skills. Our guides have “honed” their skills throughout the world, leading expeditions on almost every continent. We are confident that you will sincerely enjoy your experience with us.
Tat/Alsek- You are responsible to get yourself to Haines for our first day’s meeting. Fly from your home town to Seattle, Washington then on to Juneau, Alaska. Alaska Airlines is the only Seattle to Juneau air service provider. From Juneau, you can take a smaller airplane or ferry to Haines. Upon conclusion of the trip, the last day, you will need to make a reservation on Alaska Airlines Flight 66 from Yakutat to Juneau and then on to home.
Upon arrival in Juneau, Alaska, there are two options to get to Haines. First, the Alaska Marine Highway System/Ferry offers ferry service Northbound from Juneau to Haines. This is the preferred mode of travel as flight cancellations due to weather are common. They can be reached at www.ferryalaska.com or 800-642-0066. Second, there are air carriers that fly from Juneau to Haines, they can be reached at 907-766-2222 (LAB Airlines) or 907-789-0790 (Wings of Alaska.)
Kongakut- You are responsible for getting yourself to and from Fairbanks, Alaska. We will take care of the bush plane charter flights.
Tipping is not included in the pricing and is not required. If your guides have taken you on a memorable, comfortable, fun expedition you may wish to leave a tip at trip’s end to show your appreciation. 5 to 10 percent seems to be the normal tipping range.
Signing up is easy. Simply call us or Email and reserve a space with your credit card for instant confirmation. A twenty percent down payment is require to reserve a trip. We will send you out an information packet about the expeditions we offer and the items we suggest you bring. Phone : 907-766-2491 Fax: 907-766-2409 Email: email@example.com
We have a very qualified support staff that will be able to answer any questions that you may have. Please contact us for any additional information. We look forward to making your trip to the North as memorable as possible. In fact, most people that have taken a trip with us in the past, have returned for another departure! We are constantly checking out new rivers and experiences. If you are interested in exploratory trips, please let us know and maybe you’ll be able to join us for the newest adventure we offer.