Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
The Nenana Wildwater Festival takes place Saturday, August 5 near Denali Park, Alaska. This is the 41st consecutive year for this longest running river event in Alaska.
The mass start downriver race begins at noon on the river right side of the Jonesville Bridge just north of the Denali Park entrance. Signups will be at the Kingfisher Creek pullout just north of the bridge. The race finishes at Twin Rocks rapid in the canyon approximately 4 miles downstream. A rodeo / freestyle competition will be held at 3:00 pm at a location to de announced. ( Location is usually dependent on water levels.)
Denali Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is co-hosting this event. For more information on the event and for information about camping near Otto Lake, contact Denali Outdoor Center at (888) 303-1925.
Here is the event on Facebook
You can also join in other great fun events during the weekend.
Alaska Dream Adventures will be hosting Epic Kayak Ultimate frisbee games at Otto Lake next at the Denali Outdoor Center dock on Friday, August 4 from 4-9 pm and on Saturday, August 5 Starting at 9 am. Boats and gear are provided.
The Great Denali Duck Race will be held at 2pm right after the Wildwater race at the Jonesville Bridge.
The Denali Blueberry fest and BBQ and the Denali Blueberry 5k Dash will also be held in the area this weekend. For more information, contact the Denali Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
The 10th Annual Six-mile Creek Whitewater and Bluegrass Festival will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 near Hope, Alaska.
The purpose of the Six Mile Creek Whitewater & Bluegrass Festival is to bring the whitewater paddling community, the music & arts community, and the general public together to share a unique weekend of athletics, entertainment, the human connection and nature on the beautiful shores of Six Mile Creek.
Come experience the hardcore CHAOS of paddlers mass-start racing through a narrow, whitewater canyon… guaranteed ear-to-ear grins! While you’re at it, dance your faces off on the shores of the river on Saturday night to some epic live music! Music headliner Days n’ Daze (from Austin, TX). You don’t want to miss this show!
EVERYTHING (live music, competition entry, festival entry, camping, parking) is FREE!!!!! As always, there will be a raffle for some sweet prizes, and awards ceremony for the races, live music, and a fire show once the sun goes down!
Competitors If you want to compete in the river races, you must have a proper life jacket and helmet… a drysuit is highly recommended because there’s usually swimmers involved;^) See schedule below for sign-up info…
SATURDAY, AUGUST 12th, 2017:
- 11:00 am : all competitors/racers need to walk down to the main festival tent/dome on the shore of the river, grab a racing bib and sign your name, Bib number, and phone number on the sign up sheet. PLEASE return bibs to the main stage tent immediately after the races! Seven bibs disappeared last time and these are very expensive to replace.
- 12:30 pm: racers and spectators leave main festival grounds at Boston Bar area and carpool/drive back north to the 1st canyon extreme race series site (5 minutes back towards Anchorage from the main festival site, about 1 mile north of the Seward Highway bridge over Canyon Creek, just before the Hope cut-off road… look for lots of parked cars off the side of the highway at 1:00pm.
- 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm : Downriver mass-start extreme race through the 3 biggest rapids of the 1st canyon (KAYAK, canoe, inflatable kayak)
- 2:00 pm: PACK RAFT mass-start extreme race through the 3 biggest rapids of the 1st canyon (pack rafts only)
- 2:30 pm: INFLATABLE POOL-TOY extreme mass-start race (inflatable pool-toy race…ride an alligator, shark, couch, whatever you want!… (normal whitewater gear is required (aka: drysuit, life jacket, helmet))… pack rafts don’t count as an inflatable pool-toy:^
- 4:00 pm: everyone drives back to main festival area, awards ceremony, bonfire party, & live music begins. AWARDS will be around 7:00pm!
Highlights of whitewater action from the 2011 festival:
SATURDAY, AUGUST 12th, 2017 at the main festival grounds:
- 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Quinn Hagberg band
- 7:15 pm – 8:15 pm : Squeeze Mama
- 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm : The Goat Rodeo
- 9:45 pm – 10:45pm : The Shoot Dangs
- 10:45-11:00ish pm Fire show by AK Fire Circus
- 11:00-ish pm – 1-ish am : Days n’ Daze!!!!!! (prepare to dance your faces off)
Monica Morin will be delivering a FREE Packrafting Awareness presentation at Beaver Sports on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. The session is to help prepare packrafting enthusiasts for this upcoming season. Mimicking Avalanche Awareness education, this hour and a half talk is an introduction to what you need to know prior to getting on the water.
The purpose of this presentation is to help packrafters choose appropriate rivers for their skill levels. Monica will explore how packrafting has evolved, and why it is growing so rapidly in popularity, especially among Alaskan adventurers. She will focus on trip preparation and planning, including packrafting-specific safety equipment, packing tips, choosing trip partners, and selecting routes and rivers best suited to group skills and experience. Discover how factors such as river gradient, water level, weather conditions, remoteness, river features, and other available information can help evaluate risk potential for a particular trip. Monica will also share case studies, and discuss opportunities and resources for additional safety and skill development.
Summer is here, and that means the Beaver Sports Canoe Races are back! This is a fun, casual series. It’s a great excuse to get a group of friends together, meet other paddlers, and do something healthy after work. All races are FREE and open to canoers, kayakers, and SUP boards too!
Don’t have a canoe? No Problem!!
UAF DRAW – will be at the start with a trailer of canoes, that you can use for the races! They will be at the finish to pick up the canoes and help with shuttling back to the start as well!
All races begin are on the Chena River and begin at Graehl Landing (by Pro Music). Registration is at 6:30pm, race start at 7pm.There are 3 races this summer, The races get progressively longer as the series goes on:
Race 1: June 13th – 5 1/4 river miles. Race to the Take Out River Left at University Landing (aka Chena River Wayside
Race 2: June 27th – 7 1/2 river miles. Race to the Take Out River Right at Chena Small Tracts.
Race 3: July 11th – 9 1/2 river miles. Race to the Take Out River Right at the Chena Pump House.
for more information please see the Beaver Sports website: http://
The Reindeer Hills Overnight will be the weekend of June 17-18, 2017. On this trip we float the Nenana River between approximately 17-mile Denali Highway and the “Windy Bridge” (the curved bridge on the Parks Highway a few miles north of Cantwell; NOT the high bridge north of Glitter Gulch), starting Saturday, spending the night on the river, and taking out Sunday afternoon.
The put-in is on the Denali Highway, about 18 miles east of Cantwell. The river parallels the road for a few miles, then cuts north behind the Reindeer Hills, returning to the road and the take-out on the Parks Highway at Windy Bridge. It is a fast-moving, glacial-fed river rated class I to II-. A set of rapids, perhaps a mile long, starts near where the river turns away from the Denali Highway and is straightforward, with some waves up to a foot high in a clear, wide, unobstructed channel. A few large rocks near the waterline lurking along the sides towards the tail end of this rapid, however, keep paddlers alert.
The primary challenge to newer moving water boaters on this trip is the numerous bends often populated with sweepers and strainers in fast-moving current, requiring competent river-reading and paddling skills. A decent back-ferry is recommended, as well as suitable cross-current forward movement skills. It is definitely a step up from the upper Chena, but not as challenging as lower sections of the Nenana. If you are comfortable on the upper Chena and are looking for a change of scenery and a little more challenge, this may be the trip for you. Its vistas are beautiful, especially on a clear day, and there is a fair chance of seeing moose, caribou, or bear. We will camp either on an island above Bruskasna Creek, or right by the creek’s mouth. The Bruskasna site has been popular in the past, but it has become overgrown over the years and the views and possibility of sun is better at the island camp.
We could easily have rain on the trip, and the nights can be chilly, even near freezing, though that’s usually more likely earlier in June. The river water, however, is extremely cold; a drysuit and fleece layering is nice, though not necessary, but rain gear, non-cotton layering and extra clothes are a must. I’ll bring a large kitchen tarp, cookware and kitchen tools, a 4-burner stove, a groover, and two tables. People should bring snacks, lunch, eating utensils, a cup and a bowl or plate. We can talk about major meals when I have a clear idea of who is coming.
Participants must be current members of Fairbanks Paddlers. I’ll have membership forms on hand for those who need to re-up for this summer. Fees are $10 for an individual and $15 for a family sharing one roof. If you desire a business membership you should contact the club treasurer before the trip.
I will notify participants of the meeting time, place and shuttle plans as the weekend gets closer and folks sign up. There will be a designated parking spot on the west side of Fairbanks where people can meet to carpool. However this falls, we’ll want to leave Fairbanks, packed, boats tied on, and vehicles gassed by 9am at the latest. We’ll likely get off the river Sunday afternoon around 3 or 4 p.m., but after running shuttle and loading, plus the 2-hour drive to Fairbanks, plan on arriving home no earlier than 7 or 8.
For further information and to sign up, please email the trip coordinator, Brad Snow, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
See you on the river!
Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department together with REI, Alaska Dream Adventures, Alaska Canoe School, and TRAX Outdoor Center will be hosting the Lake and Trail Festival at Tanana Lakes on June 10th from 10 am to 6 pm.
Included in this family friendly event are free introductory kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard instruction sessions. You can sign up for these at the Parks and Recreation Lake and Trail Festival Page. REI will also be offering classes in Camp Cooking, Map and Compass, and Bike Maintenance for Trail Riding . Spaces are limited for classes, so follow the links for more information and sign up early.
In addition to classes, there will be outdoor retailers, a kid’s activity area, give aways and raffles, food trucks and hiking trails. You can even join in pickup games of Epic Kayak Ultimate – ultimate frisbee in kayaks.
All ages and skill levels welcome! Children 5 – 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult. All participants must sign a waiver before participating and those under the age of 18 MUST have a waiver signed by a parent/guardian.
Thanks to everyone who came out Wednesday evening (May 24) to clean up the Chena River through town. A small but enthusiastic crowd of nine people pulled 100 pounds of trash out of the willows, alders and chokecherries on the riverbanks between Graehl Landing and Pioneer Park. We found the usual assortment of bottles and plastics, but also a large “no parking” sign, several classic pre-aluminum Doctor Pepper cans, and a chunk of lead (for making sinkers?, bullets?).
Sam Friedman has a nice write-up in today’s News-Miner. The cleanup has been duly reported to American Rivers, which has been sponsoring river cleanups throughout the country and keeping track of the results. We are also recognized by the Tanana Valley Watershed Association for our commitment to keeping the banks of the Chena River
The Paddlers’ annual cleanup of the Chena River through town originally scheduled for May 10 has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 24. High water levels on the Chena make it challenging to safely collect trash along the banks.
We will meet at Graehl Landing (just upstream from the Wendell Street bridge) at 6:00 p.m., set shuttle to the Pioneer Park landing at Peger Road, and plan on launching from Graehl promptly at 6:30. Once on the water people travel more or less at their own pace, stopping to pick up trash on the riverbanks. Usually, everybody is out of the water by 9:00 or 10:00.
Cleaning up the Chena River is one of the contributions our club makes to the community of Fairbanks, and is also a commitment we have made to the Adopt-a-Stream program of the Tanana Valley Watershed Association. For this activity we are recognized by two nice signs placed by the TVWA near the river at Graehl and Pioneer Park. Our cleanup is also registered with the American Rivers National River Cleanup campaign.
Trash bags will be provided. Participants should bring mud boots, raincoat, gloves, warm clothes, extra clothes, mosquito repellent, drinking water and something to snack on as well as some sort of craft to paddle. Don’t forget your life-jacket!
We will attempt to separate out clean aluminum in separate bags for recycling. We need to take the trash directly to the dump (as opposed to sticking it in dumpsters) so that the Borough can keep track of the volunteer cleanup effort and so that we can report our haul to American Rivers. My truck will be available for stuffing full of trash at the take-out.
For more information contact Alan Batten at email@example.com, or at 488-3205.
Find a great deal on used boats or paddling gear, or sell the boats you haven’t paddled for a while!
Fairbanks Paddlers will be working with Beaver Sports to host a Boat Swap on May 20, 2017 under the awning outside the Beaver Sports Boat Shop on 3480 College Road.
- 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Bring your non-motorized boats and paddling gear to sell
- 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Find bargains on “new to you” boats and paddlesports gear
- 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Find out if your gear sold and pick up your unsold items.
15% of sales will be donated to Fairbanks Paddlers. Please price your items accordingly.
If you are a Fairbanks Paddlers member and would like to volunteer to help, please contact John Schauer at (907)460-6290
Other questions? Please contact Fairbanks Paddlers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Update – May 3 – The 2017 Annual Paddle and Potluck trip on the upper Chena River scheduled for Saturday, May 6 has been postponed due to river and ice conditions.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, 2017 the Upper Chena is at a high, bank full level with considerable shore ice on both inside and outside banks at a number of places visible from access points. You can drive to the gravel bar at first bridge, but there is a large impassable ice and log jam on the upstream side of first bridge. The 31.4 mile access point has only a very small eddy with swift current along upstream and downstream shorelines and ice chunks hung in shoals just off shore. It would be a challenging takeout for a large group. There was open channel at points visible from the road, but potential for large ice jams on tight bends or log debris. Ability to pull out and portage on either bank could be limited by ice. Upstream at 3rd bridge, a main channel is open, but there is a good bit of ice that will be flushing downstream as the river rises. The gauge at Second bridge at 40 mile has been steadily trending upwards with some diurnal cycles over the past week. Given the amount of snow and ice in the forest, adjacent sloughs and surrounding hills, combined with the short term forecast,levels can be expected to continue rising over the next several days.
Conditions could make recovery from or rescue following a capsize, swim, broach or pin both difficult and dangerous, even with full drysuits. Given the large group size and mixed experience levels of last year’s Paddle and Potluck group, river and ice conditions do not provide a good scenario for a safe and uneventful outing.
To reschedule the Upper Chena Paddle and Potluck, we need a member to take over as trip coordinator, as John is unavailable for other weekends in May and early June.
We will launch at the first bridge (approximately Mile 37 Chena Hot Springs Road) and take out at the mile 31.4 river access (the Nugget Creek winter trailhead). Meet at the First Bridge at 10 a.m. (Look for the big gravel bar on river right downstream from the bridge, accessed by signed dirt road on the right just before the bridge, then left at the fork out to the gravel bar). It takes about an hour to get to the first bridge from downtown Fairbanks. We’ll unload gear, run shuttle vehicles down to the take out, and launch. Plan to have lunch on the river and be at the take-out by late afternoon.
This section of river is suitable for canoes, kayaks, packrafts, inflatable kayaks, or small rafts. We will pack lunch dishes, a small propane grill, collapsible table and minimum impact picnic gear into the boats and have our potluck on a gravel bar along the river. Be creative. Kayakers and pack rafters may wish to coordinate with canoeists to help carry bulkier “luxury” items like camp chairs or coolers. The trip will occur rain or shine.
To come on this trip, you will need to be a current FP member ( Join or Renew online, or bring cash or check to the put-in. We’ll also have membership applications/renewals at the put-in), wear a PFD, carry spare clothes and rain gear, and be at least an advanced beginner paddler with experience in swift water and the ability to confidently maneuver a boat to avoid sweepers and strainers. In recent years a there have been channels obstructed by logs just upstream of the takeout in the vicinity of the Chena River Public Use Cabin. The Upper Chena is Class I. Woody debris obstructing the river channel constitutes the main challenges. Skills to recognize hazards, maneuver in swift current, and avoid sweepers or logjams are essential for a safe trip.
Please let trip coordinator John Schauer know if you plan to attend by noon on Friday, May 5. (907)457-3962 or johnjschauer (AT) gmail (DOT) com. If you leave a message, please state how many are coming with you and the number and type of craft that you plan to paddle.
Hope to see you on the river!
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