Region 3 (east)

Whitewater Classification

Class I-III

Known Hazards

Short section of Class III whitewater above Ram Creek (it can be portaged). Upper section above Arrigetch Creek offers some whitewater and shallow areas, especially in the fall. The river is fed by runoff, and can rise quickly.


Fly-in from Fairbanks to Bettles, then to the river via wheel or float plane.

Land Managers

National Park Service, private

Additional Resources

Alaska Fishing, by Gunnar Pedersen and Rene Limeres
Alaska River Guide, by Karen Jettmar


The Alatna offers a true wilderness experience, with clean, clear waters bordered by rugged mountains and scenic beauty. It is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, beginning its course in Gates of the Arctic National Park before winding its way to the south before eventually flowing into the Koyukuk River at the village of Allakaket.
The upper river is fairly rambunctious, with stretches of Class II whitewater and a short section of Class III above Ram Creek. The pace of the river mellows considerably as you approach Arrigetch Creek, a popular put-in point for river trips. The river valley provides excellent opportunities for hiking and camping. Trip length can vary from between four and fourteen days, depending on the put-in and take-out locations. Some popular drop-offs are Circle Lake, Takahula Lake, and Gaedeke Lake. The latter spot is in the headwater area where the river is shallow and rocky. Portaging or lining are likely if you drop off this high.
There are no public facilities on the Alatna, however campsite selection is excellent, with many gravel bars backed by sheltering vegetation.
The river offers fishing for grayling and char. It is also home to grizzly bear, moose, caribou, wolf and other indigeneous wildlife species. 
Firearms are permitted on the Alatna, however no hunting is allowed in Gates of the Arctic National Park.