|MEETING PLACE:||Coast High Country Inn, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada|
|MEETING TIME:||7:00 PM the night before your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 6:00 PM on day 11|
|RIVER RATING:||Class II-III|
|PUT-IN:||Dalton Post, Yukon, Canada (Tatshenshini River)|
|TAKE-OUT:||Dry Bay, Alaska (Alsek River)|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 8|
|TRIP LENGTH||11 days|
|BOAT TYPE:||Oar raft|
The Tatshenshini River, rated as one of the world’s top five scenic rivers, drains the northwest corner of B.C. and the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory. The river joins the Alsek River just before the Alaska border and continues through the top of the Alaska panhandle to drain into the Pacific Ocean at Dry Bay. This special river valley has been designated as a Provincial Park and achieved World Heritage status, protecting it for generations to come. Shakespeare’s assertion that “Man is the measure of all things” could not have been made by anyone who has spent time in Alaska and the Yukon. In this land, man is humbled by the sheer mythic proportions of the landscape. The rivers and the vastness of space were made for Titans to roam and explore; the towering mountains were merely their thrones.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
We depart in the morning for the 2 ½ hour drive to the put-in at Dalton Post. From Whitehorse, we head north on the Alaska Highway to Haines Junction, and then west along the Haines Road to the Dalton Post turn off. At this old abandoned trading post, we’ll meet the other guides, load the rafts and leave civilization behind us.
This first day we run a number of lively Class III rapids through the gorge, then emerge a few hours later into a wide open valley to see our first views of the mountains with their hanging glaciers. Tonight we’ll set up camp at Silver Creek.
Days 2 & 3
The river slows down as we float through this incredible valley. Entering British Columbia, we meander through lush landscape and the home of a variety of birds, moose and beaver. The mountains to the southwest seem to get larger as we pass the river terraces, keeping a watchful eye out for the elusive blue bear, grizzly, mountain goat and wolf. Various tributaries double the size of the river and every turn produces a fantastic panoramic view. We spend two days stationed near Sediments Creek, where we can hike and explore the alpine region’s most diverse ecosystem.
Days 4 & 5
We’ll continue down the Tat and stop for lunch at O’Connor Creek. Every day the scenery becomes more spectacular; mountains rise to 8,000 feet and glaciers hang from every mountainside. The river valley continues to widen as we reach our camp near the confluence with the Alsek River. Here there are great hiking opportunities along the river terraces where wildflowers carpet the ground.
Days 6 & 7
We join the mighty Alsek River flowing from the north as we travel through braided channels. The river seems to narrow as the mountains reach for the sky. A 360-degree look will reveal over 50 glaciers as we near our camp at Walker Glacier. We marvel at the crevasses and hike onto massive moraines. Around the campfire, we’ll enjoy a beverage with 10,000 year-old ice collected from the glacier earlier this day.
Days 8 & 9
Cutting through the Brabazon Range, we pass the massive Novatak Glacier, which is the tip of one of the largest ice fields outside of the polar regions. To the south, 15,300-foot Mount Fairweather, the fourth highest mountain on the continent, dwarfs our very existence. Toward the end of day nine, we set up camp on the spit that separates the Alsek River from Alsek Lake, a five kilometer long lake located at the bottom of the massive Alsek Glacier. If time allows, we will paddle toward the glacier and watch as giant pieces of the ice calve-off with a thunderous roar and form icebergs in the lake. Our view from camp is one of the most spectacular anywhere on earth.
Today we’ll float through the icebergs of Alsek Lake as we make our way south of the Gateway Knob. Cruising in and out of the ice is exhilarating and provides fantastic photographic opportunities as we continue to witness giant pieces of ice calve-off the glacier. We camp again tonight on the lake.
After breaking camp, we’ll float the last miles down to the airstrip at Dry Bay on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Here we disembark, break down the rafts and board the plane for a spectacular flight over the mountains and back to Whitehorse. Once back in civilization, it’s off to the hotel and a well-deserved hot shower. Tonight we gather for a last toast to the Tatshenshini and plan our next adventure together before we head for home tomorrow.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on day 11
- 10 nights catered camping with beer, wine and some liqueurs in camp
- 1 waterproof bag to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 33” tall x 16″ diameter)
- 1 small waterproof bag for camera and other small items you’ll want during the day (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter)
- 2-person tent on a shared basis (there is a $30 + tax charge for a private tent)
- Sleep kit—consisting of a sleeping bag, pad and pillow
- Floater jacket—combination personal flotation device (PFD) and jacket which must be worn at all times on the river in compliance with safety regulations. It is warm and waterproof.
- Rubber boots—upon request. Account for thick or multiple socks when requesting your size
- Camp amenities such as chairs, eating utensils, cups and plates
- Highest quality inflatable rafts and related equipment
- Van transfer from Whitehorse to the river and flight from Dry Bay back to Whitehorse
- All park fees and necessary permits
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Whitehorse
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Insurance of any kind, mandatory emergency medical evacuation insurance
- Fishing gear and license
- Items of a personal nature and equipment (an equipment list will be provided)
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: For your protection, we require that all participants have emergency medical evacuation coverage. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. We recommend you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation with the purchase of a short-term Travel Protection Plan. A Travel Protection Plan can help cover your non-refundable payments should you have to cancel your trip due to a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit, and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. The cost for the optional Travel Protection is listed on your trip invoice. All Plan Benefits are administered by Trip Mate, Inc. (in CA & UT, dba Trip Mate Insurance Agency). For a complete description of Trip Mate’s Plan online go to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpf431X or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan #F431X).
Please Note: Purchase this Plan within 14 days of the date we receive your initial deposit and the exclusion for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions will be waived, provided you are not disabled from travel at the time the plan is purchased.
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your trip, we will meet in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, at 7:00 PM in the lobby of the Coast High Country Inn for a pre-trip meeting. Your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation and distribute waterproof bags so that you can pack your belongings that evening. The trip leader will also confirm the meeting time for the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
Getting to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
The Whitehorse airport is an approximate ten-minute taxi ride to town. Many hotels offer a complimentary airport shuttle.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
Please do not purchase airfare until your departure has been confirmed by the minimum number of required guests.
After Your Trip
Depending on the weather, we should arrive back to Whitehorse on itinerary day 11 in time to catch flights that depart after 8:00 PM. However, we strongly recommend that you stay in Whitehorse one more night. Often the group will gather for a farewell dinner in Whitehorse. Should you decide to connect out of Whitehorse this night, you will be dropped off at the airport upon our return into town.
*A delayed return into Whitehorse of one or more days is possible due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. We suggest having flexibility in your post-trip plans or obligations. OARS will notify your hotel if our return is delayed, but cannot change your flights on your behalf.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. The below list offers a few of the options in Whitehorse.
- Coast High Country Inn (800) 716-6199
- Edgewater Hotel (877) 484-3334
- Best Western Gold Rush Inn (800) 780-7234
- Westmark Whitehorse (800) 544-0970
- Inn on the Lake B&B (867) 660-5253 *35 min outside of Whitehorse
Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost. To assure pre- and post-trip lodging for our guests, we often arrange a room block at a local hotel. Ask your client services representative for details.
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date. Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. We also request that you send us a copy to keep on file for emergencies during your trip. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement. Also, check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added.
Do not pack your passport in your check-in luggage or leave it in Whitehorse. You may be asked for your papers not only upon departure, but at various times during your travel. If you are carrying a customs form, please keep it in a safe place at all times, perhaps with your other valuables. We recommend you pack these in a plastic zip-lock that you can store in the bottom of your large dry bag while on the river.
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Canada. For non-U.S. citizens, please check with the consulate.
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
You must provide proof of emergency medical evacuation coverage prior to the trip. An example of a policy that fulfills the evacuation requirement is at: www.medexassist.com/individuals/products/medexsafetrip.aspx. We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. For those unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we offer an optional Travel Protection Plan from Trip Mate, Inc. (in CA & UT, dba Trip Mate Insurance Agency) that can help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings. Should you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury – your own or that of an immediate family member – non-refundable payments may be covered by a travel protection plan (see Cancellations and Refunds). For a complete description of Trip Mate’s plan online go to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpf431X or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan #F431X). Please Note: Purchase this Plan within 14 days of the date we receive your initial deposit and the exclusion for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions will be waived, provided you are not disabled from travel at the time the plan is purchased.
On our Tatshenshini River trips we bring oar rafts. The oar rafts carry the bulk of the gear on most of our multi-day adventures. Your guide pilots with long oars from a center-mounted aluminum frame. Ample deck space allows for lounging in calm stretches, while the sturdy weight and width of the boat gives your guide confidence to hit big waves head-on. (Two to four passengers.)
Our journey will take us through alpine tundra, past towering mountains with massive glaciers that often reach the river, and finally onto the narrow coastal plain. This is a primeval land of the grizzly, the raven and the eagle—wilderness in its purest form. It has always been difficult to visit this remote corner of the world and settlements are few and very far between. The trappers and prospectors who came through in previous centuries endured extreme hardship to travel in the area—many did not survive the harshness. But “The Spell of the Yukon” has always been there, and even today Alaska and the Yukon have a place in the psyche of every adventurous North American.
The Tatshenshini drops 1950 feet from Dalton Post to Dry Bay. The Class III whitewater section lasts approximately 45 minutes with a maximum gradient of 50 feet per mile. The river itself is characterized as Class II-III, as it is challenging due to its remote nature. The upper Tat runs highest in June with the spring snowmelt, yet the Alsek River peaks in early July due to melting glaciers. The hotter the weather, the longer the high water will hold, leaving medium to moderate levels for August and September.
Wildlife & Flora
The valley of the Tatshenshini is a fantastic area for viewing wildlife. Wildlife sightings have included grizzly and black bear, moose, Dall sheep, mountain goat and wolf. Indigenous species also include coyote, lynx, marten and red fox. In the open-country, we are quite likely to see beaver, arctic ground squirrel and hoary marmot. Breeding pairs of bald eagles may be found feeding on the salmon. The occasional golden eagle can also be seen soaring over the canyons of the upper Tat. A variety of hawks and the rare peregrine falcon also call this river valley home. Canada geese and the fish-eating merganser are found along the river; while gulls and arctic terns are often seen as well.
The mountain slopes are forested with hemlock, fir and spruce. Balsam, poplar, and cottonwood are found on the alluvial fans and river terraces, while wildflowers such as dwarf fireweed and cinquefoil grace the river’s edge. The alpine meadows are covered with wildflowers such as moss campion and spotted saxifrage.
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a bag line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink to top it off. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious pasta dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be a supplemental menu fee, ranging from $5-25 per person per day, to cover any increase in our costs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, so feel free to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions. Please let your Adventure Consultant know if you intend to do so.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
We provide a variety of canned beverages, water, lemonade and a limited supply of beer and wine with dinner. You are welcome to bring your own favorite beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, in non-glass containers. If you choose to bring additional drinks or alcoholic beverages, please let us know in advance. For your safety and the safety of others, alcoholic beverages are limited to camp.
Our drinking water comes from the river and is filtered through a purification system we provide. We store the purified water in large containers that are accessible in camp, at lunch time and before hikes for filling personal water bottles.
We plan to hike and walk as much as possible. Please let your trip leader know if you are an avid hiker and remember to bring extra water bottles and good shoes. Remember, however, that all hikes are optional and you can choose to stay at camp and relax instead.
The Tatshenshini-Alsek is one of the North’s most prolific salmon habitats and commercial fisheries. It has massive sockeye salmon runs and is a spawning ground for spring and coho salmon. However, because of the glacial run-off from the world’s largest non-polar ice fields, the fishing is not great. If you plan on staying in the Yukon before or after your expedition, there are a number of wonderful char, grayling and trout fisheries in the region. We suggest you bring a rod with case and the smallest of tackle boxes with the appropriate lures or flies.
A non-resident of Canada only requires a basic non-resident angling licence to fish these rivers, as neither the Tatshenshini nor Alsek Rivers are “classified.” Note that a conservation surcharge stamp for steelhead is required if the angler is targeting steelhead and a conservation surcharge stamp for salmon is required if the angler intends to keep salmon of any species. Angling licenses (including conservation surcharge stamps) may be purchased online at www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/licences or through a license vendor in the province.
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impacts, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing and is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
We also carry a small container called the “day tripper” that can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and oversized hand wipe.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, the common refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” We practice this approach by urinating in the river during the day. For use in camp at night we provide pee buckets so that urination can occur in a secluded location and then be dumped into the current where it will be carried downstream.
Bathing is allowed in the river, however the water is cold (some say very). On occasion though, after a long hike or on a warm day, some of our guests have been moved to take a dip. Most often they prefer to cleanse with disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) which are especially convenient. We also bring a rudimentary shower that can be set up on layover days and filled with heated water—ask your guide if you’re interested. We recommend using a liquid biodegradable soap, such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s, which can be purchased at camping and health food stores. It can also be used to wash clothes.
We provide a small waterproof bag (17” tall x 9” diameter—approximate sealed size) to hold your camera and other items you might need during the day. While these bags are designed to be waterproof, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
We are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel.
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river. They can call out, but we cannot call them. Periodically the trip leader will check in with our office. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind, however, it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
The Canadian monetary unit is the Canadian dollar (CDN). Like U.S. currency, coins are the penny, nickel, quarter and the dollar, or “Loonie” piece. A two-dollar coin has come into circulation to replace two-dollar bills. Avoid carrying large sums of cash at any time during your holiday. Credit cards are widely accepted. Establishments may accept U.S. dollars, but at a high exchange rate. You’re better off using a credit card or withdrawing cash from an ATM machine. ATM’s are readily available.
If you intend to convert U.S. to Canadian dollars, you’ll get the most favorable rates at banks. Most banks are open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday to Friday; some branches stay open later and on Saturday mornings.
Canada’s Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% and the province of British Columbia has a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST), as well as a liquor tax and hotel tax. For non-residents of Canada, a portion of the GST taxes (including those paid for your river trip) can be recuperated. Be sure to keep receipts and ask customs officials on your departure from the country for the necessary forms and information.
Average daytime highs in August can reach the 60’s (°F), while average nighttime lows can creep into the 30’s. We will still experience the North’s long hours of daylight and your trip may also witness the dramatic northern lights. There is no guarantee against a few days of overcast weather, rain or even snow, so follow our recommended equipment list as our experience suggests a multi-layering approach with a range of conditions and temperatures in mind. You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend you check www.wunderground.com or weather.noaa.gov for weather in Haines Junction, Canada.
Averages for Tatshenshini-Alsek Nat’l Park
|MONTH||HIGH (°F)||LOW (°F)||RAINFALL|
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
Our primary goal is for you to have an enjoyable experience. The nature of the trip is such that it involves some physical exertion and potential exposure to the elements, including cold water, heat, sun, wind and rain. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight or lack conditioning can endanger themselves, other guests and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure. In general, trip participants must be able to:
- Wear a Type V Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches)
- Climb on and off the boats multiple times each day
- Paddle or hold on to the boat while navigating whitewater rapids
- Navigate uneven terrain in camp and on hikes
- Carry your own dry bags (20 – 30 lbs) from the boats to your camping location and back
- Self-rescue by swimming to a boat or to shore in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid
- Self-rescue by climbing into a boat with the help of another person in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30–40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body work-out and is training that may come in handy in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-trip/
All clothing (with a few exceptions) should be quick-drying and made of merino wool or synthetics. Warmth and comfort are the main objectives with this outline. Weather conditions can vary considerably in the north. It’s important to dress in layers so that you can maintain a comfortable body temperature no matter what Mother Nature may have in store. The inner base layer should move perspiration outside, where it can evaporate. The intermediate layer should insulate while the outside layer should act as a barrier to wind and rain.
Boatwear—Start with sunscreen, base layers, pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Add additional layers of fleece, socks, rain pants and the provided floater jacket. As the day warms up, layers can be taken off and stored in your small waterproof bag (provided). Rain pants should be large enough to accommodate base layers.
In Camp—Cotton pants and shirts make great camp wear. A dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
Hiking Clothes—Choose lightweight fabrics that breathe well while walking. Base layers can be added or removed based on the weather. Whatever you choose, make sure you have comfortable freedom of movement, especially for uphill and downhill walking.
Boatwear—Most of the time you will want high-top rubber boots (such as those used for sailing or gardening) and warm socks. At times an amphibious shoe, or a comfortable pair of athletic shoes, with good soles may be appropriate. Sandals will not provide the protection you want from the water. Your feet will get wet getting in and out of the boat and the water is chilly. No-slip soles are ideal. Wool or fleece socks are recommended to help keep your feet warm while rafting.
*If you’d like us to provide tall rubber boots, be sure to let us know. When requesting a size, consider the thickness of socks you may be wearing.
Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water. Flip flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp only.
Hiking—We plan to hike and walk as much as possible. The importance of good footwear cannot be overstated. Given that our trails are often gravely or sometimes muddy, you need a good walking shoe or boot with a firm sole, a degree of water resistance and some ankle support. It’s easy to find a “hybrid” walking boot, which combines the lightweight, ventilated features of a shoe with the support and durability of a boot.
Socks—We recommend merino wool material, as they will keep your feet warm if they get wet. It may be a good idea to bring along some additional items such as foot powder, cushioned pads and/or bandage or 2nd Skin®, which provides cushioned comfort with an antiseptic for blistered and sore feet. Many people find a product called moleskin gives them great relief from blisters. It’s a good idea to change into clean, dry socks once you’re off the river at camp.
If you plan to buy footwear for the trip, allow time for break-in and wear your footwear until its comfy.
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection, or a ball cap. In colder temps, a beanie-style hat is desirable.
In camp—When the weather is cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
To Avoid Being Cold
Merino wool or synthetic long underwear is a must-have on river trips. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet, dries quickly and can be layered under your rain jacket and pants. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm if wet.
Pile or Fleece—The best we’ve found is 200-weight Polar Plus, which is used by a variety of companies. This fabric is warm, dries quickly and is not excessively bulky. It can be found in many different styles and colors. Bring good fleece tops and bottoms, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double-up on your synthetic layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a set of warm, dry clothes for camp.
It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have, no matter what time of year you are traveling. We provide a hooded, waterproof flotation jacket to be worn on the raft. You will want a waterproof rain jacket and pants for day hikes and in camp. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended, with secure closures for your head, neck and wrists. Pants should be large enough to accommodate several base layers underneath.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Consider bringing a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
We supply a sleeping bag, pad and pillow, as well as a shared tent as mentioned in “We Provide.” The complete sleep kit that we provide is designed for your comfort and maximizes available luggage space.
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Daypack: for day hikes. It should be large enough to carry raingear, jacket, camera and water bottle
☐ 1-liter water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into the raft)
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferable polarized) with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Small, quick-drying towel and washcloth
☐ Bathing towels/wipes: pre-moistened disposable wipes such as Coleman Swash Cloths
☐ Toiletries including biodegradable soap
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities and incidentals
☐ High-top rubber boots: we can provide these with advance notice (plan for thick or multiple socks)
☐ Lightweight hiking boots or shoes: 1 pair, comfortable and with good tread for hiking and in camp
☐ Sandals with a heel strap or flip flops (such as those made by Chaco®)
☐ Socks: 5-10 pair, wool or fleece socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: 2–3 quick drying (UPF rated shirts are great)
☐ Long pants: 2–3 lightweight and quick-drying
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended
☐ Swimsuit / trunks
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 3–4
☐ Base layers/long underwear—tops & bottoms: 3 sets, light to mid-weight merino wool or synthetic
☐ Fleece pants: 1-2 (medium to expedition weight)
☐ Down or synthetic insulated jacket for camp wear
☐ Beanie-style hat and gloves—wool or fleece are ideal
☐ Binoculars: small
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Paddling gloves for in the boat—often neoprene
☐ Plastic bags: Large trash bags and assorted zip-lock bags to separate wet or dirty clothes
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Fishing rod with case and tackle (fishing license is required)
☐ Whiskbroom: small (no long handle) to sweep wet sand off tent
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide disadvantaged youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
At the pre-trip meeting each person will be given a large waterproof bag (approximate sealed size: 33” tall x 16” diameter; 6635 cu in; 110L). This bag will be for your clothing and personal items and will be your “checked luggage” and accessible in camp. Tents and sleep kits are stowed separately. We also provide a small waterproof bag for day use where you can keep items such as rain gear, camera, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter). The bags are cylindrical in shape and pack from the top. At the end of the river trip, you will return to Whitehorse with your waterproof bag, where you will be able to unpack your gear before your trip home.
We recommend you take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary. Keeping gear to a minimum ensures it will fit into the waterproof bags we supply and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking in camp. If you have extra items needing storage, you may be able to store it at your hotel in Whitehorse. Please check with them prior to departure.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. For necessary personal items such as a wallet, passports, etc., we recommend putting them in a zip-lock bag and at the bottom of your waterproof bag with your clothing.
Tipping is optional, but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10 – 15% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader in the form of cash or personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.If you plan to tip, have U.S. or Canadian dollars, as checks or credit cards aren’t easily shared. ATM’s are available in Whitehorse.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1 per person per day donation to the Alaska Wilderness League, a non-profit conservation organization leading the effort to preserve Alaska’s wilderness by engaging citizens, sharing resources and collaborating with other organizations, educating the public and providing a constant voice for Alaska in the nation’s capital. Currently the League is fighting to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, promote the sustainable future of the Tongass National Forest and check the unbalanced and potentially destructive development of Alaska’s Arctic waters and Western Arctic public land. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to Alaska Wilderness League and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to the OARS Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit http://www.oars.com/oars-foundation to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Shop for the latest in top-quality gear for your trip
OARS practices Leave No Trace outdoor ethics
Watch our “How to Pack for a River Trip” video
Watch our Whitewater Orientation video
Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $1000/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS International People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. Call or visit Travel Insurance Services at 800-937-1387 for inexpensive options that cover this requirement. We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. For those unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we offer an optional Travel Protection Plan from Trip Mate, Inc. (in CA & UT, dba Trip Mate Insurance Agency) that can help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings. Should you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury – your own or that of an immediate family member – non-refundable payments may be covered by a travel protection plan (see Cancellations and Refunds). For a complete description of Trip Mate’s plan online go to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpf431X or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan #F431X). Please Note: Purchase this Plan within 14 days of the date we receive your initial deposit and the exclusion for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions will be waived, provided you are not disabled from travel at the time the plan is purchased.
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with O.A.R.S. International cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
OARS International, Inc., ROAM Adventures, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 6 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc.
R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc., a travel partner of OARS International, is the operator of this trip. A representative will escort you throughout the program. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.