Upper Nenana River

These are photos from a 2015 Memorial Day weekend float on the Upper Nenana River from mile 17 of the Denali Park road to the Parks Highway (20 river miles). This is a totally mellow Class I float that is one of the better kid’s river in Southcentral AK.

We left Anchorage early Saturday morning and put on the river in early afternoon. We floated about 6 miles and then set up camp on a nice gravel bar complete with a shallow muddy channel that the kids could play in.

The next day we floated the rest of the run in a few hours and were packed up and back on the road by 4pm. We had hoped to spend another night, but it started raining and Yvonne had a dreadful cough so we opted to just head home.

If you wish to float this I would suggest driving to the Denali road and car camping the night before. Jump on the river mid-morning and float half a day. A nice mid-point camp would near the outlet of Bruskasna Creek where the river enters a small canyon. The following day you’ll have about a 3 hour float to the take out. If you don’t want to take two cars you can drop a bike for the shuttle. As for season – with kids I’d suggest going around Memorial Day because the river will the lower and the bugs non-existent. If river levels aren’t too high it would be a good Labor day trip, but you will see a lot more traffic on the river due to hunting season.

Looking South around Denali Highway mile 18.

The Kelsey’s around Denali Highway mile 15.

Isabelle warming up to rafting. Koven is right at home.

The Upper Nenana never gets any splashier than this.

After about 6 miles we set up camp for the night.

Mud + water + sun = kid heaven..

Why the dog doesn’t sleep in the tent.

Isabelle & Gwen enjoying summer evening sun.
The above photos are a good example of what it’s like to camp with kids in Alaska: On the left Isabelle & Ruby are happily eating dinner in 75 degree sunshine. On the right Isabelle & Gwen are not eating breakfast b/c they’re in shock after discovering that (a) temps drop 20 degrees when it’s cloudy and (b) 2 & 3 year old girls don’t feel so good the next morning when they party till midnight.

Family portrait.

Kelsey family portrait.

Mom has perfected the art of sleeping with death grip on baby.

Taught Isabelle to say “Nice dorsal”. It’s the polite thing to say when holding a grayling.

If the kid is smiling at the take-out the trip was a success.