Friday, August 28, 2015

Whitewater Rafting Alaska's Nenana River

This raft trip with Nenana Raft Adventures travels 11 miles through Nenana Gorge of the Nenana River, which is the eastern border of Denali National Park. There were 12 major rapids rated at Class III or IV, several of which had six foot tall standing waves which stopped us dead when we hit them, forcing us to dig in with our paddles to get going again. To complicate matters, the Alaska Railroad tracks run on a ledge above the river, and derailments over the years have deposited railcars, rebar, rails, and other obstructions into the water, which is why we were required to wear helmets.

I've rafted dozens of rivers and the Nenana required more serious apparel than any other I've been on. We were all wearing full-body drysuits (not wetsuits - heavier and warmer), river booties, life jackets, and helmets, and though the water was extremely cold and was regularly inundating us, we remained warm and dry. The cost for this three hour trip was a very reasonable $60 in 2004 ($95 in 2015.)

These next photos give an idea of the terrain and narrowness of the Nenana Gorge through which we were venturing.


Unfortunately, we were so busy paddling through the rapids, I was unable to capture the immensity of the rapids on my camera. This photo is of a much smaller rapid where I could quickly take a one-handed shot. I wish I had photos of the class III and IV rapids and the standing waves we hit!

This is the photo the raft company's professional photographer took as we paddled by, but this rapid, though providing easy access for their photographer, was not one of the bigger, more impressive rapids.

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