Fairbanks Paddlers

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Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers

The Wind River – March 20,  2019

The Wind River – March 20, 2019

Fairbanks Paddlers hosts the second presentation in our Spring Slideshow series at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at the Blue Loon.

The Wind River

The Wind River is a Wild and Scenic River located on the south east side of the Brooks Range and flows into the East Fork of the Chandalar River. Tom and Sarka Paragi, Dave Sauer, and John Morack floated the Wind River for eight days during August of 2018.  The upper part of the river flows through the mountains with great views which the group took advantage of by taking several hikes.  It is a great wilderness trip which is floated by only a hand full of groups each year.

Come early and enjoy food, beverages, and camaraderie.  Meet up with friends and start planning your own summer river adventures. The public is welcome. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help cover the cost of the venue. Those under 21 must be accompanied by parents or guardians as required by Blue Loon policies.

Navigating the Nahanni – February 20, 2019

Navigating the Nahanni – February 20, 2019

Fairbanks Paddlers kicks off our Spring Slideshow series on Wednesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Blue Loon.

“Navigating the Nahanni”

A slideshow by Torre Jorgenson
and the accompanying river rats Janet Jorgenson, Don and Tracy Pendergrast, Brad Fleener, and Donna Manders

The “Dangerous River”, flowing through the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 in recognition of its incredible landscape and world class river system. The South Nahanni River has been called the “Grand Canyon” of Canada and contains the highest large waterfall in North America, Virginia Falls, at 90 m high. Once the ancestral  home of the nomadic Dene First Nation, tribal members reestablished their connections to the river by constructing a 12-m-long moose hide boat and paddling it down river while we were there. Following the days of the Cassiargold rush, it became a land of mystery with unsolved murders and disappearances, as recorded in place names such as Broken Skull River, Vampire Peaks, Deadman Valley, Headless Range, and Funeral Range.

During summer 2018, six of us in three canoes navigated 267 river miles over a three-week period. Highlights of the trip include Virginia Falls, four canyons up to 1000-m deep with challenging class 3 whitewater, side-canyon hikes, RabbitkettleLake, Tufa mounds, Hells Gate, WhitespraySprings, Kraus Hot Springs, and wood buffalo in camp. In the slideshow we discuss the history, ethnography, and ecology of the region, as well as canoeing challenges, logistics, and culinary entertainment.

Admission is free. Donations are welcome. The public is invited. Under age 21 must be with parents.

Nahanni River

Annual Meeting and Potluck – November 9, 2018

Annual Meeting and Potluck – November 9, 2018

Fairbanks Paddlers will hold it’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner on Friday, November 9 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks.  All are welcome to attend.

Last year’s “crowd-sourced” slide shows and videos were so well received, that we have decided to bring this format back to the featured presentation following the short business meeting and election. At the 2017 meeting, we celebrated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Nine people shared their images and stories from river adventures.  We would like to keep each presentation to about 5-7 minutes. These mini-shows can highlight any human powered river trips, but we would especially like to invite presentations of wild and scenic Alaskan rivers, whether they are officially designated or not.

If you are willing to share few images, video clips, and memories, please contact John Schauer at johnjschauer (AT) gmail.com or (907) 457-3962 in advance.  Pictures or videos should be loaded on a USB drive to transfer onto the presenting computer. 

Celebrating Wild and Scenic Rivers

Last year, we kicked off the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The actual 50th anniversary of this historic act’s passage was October 2, 2018.  To continue the celebration, we will show the 42 minute video “Run Wild Run Free: 50 years of Wild and Scenic Rivers” following our mini-slide shows.

The film “Run Wild Run Free…” takes the viewer through the history to the present of Wild and Scenic as told through experts, grassroots organizers, white water enthusiasts, and members of the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho.


Run Wild Run Free: 50 years of Wild and Scenic Rivers : Official Trailer from Pacific Rivers on Vimeo.

Today in a polarized political climate new designations and river protections have stalled even though there is no time in history more important then now to protect our freshwater ecosystems. We hope this film will inspire and educate people across the country to protect their home river under Wild and Scenic so we can continue this important legacy for future generations to come. ~Shane Anderson – Pacific Rivers


  • 6:30 PM – Doors open and Gear Swap – Bring boating and outdoor gear that needs a new home, or find great deals on gear that is new to you. Club T-shirts and sweatshirts with either Canoe or Kayak logos should also be available for sale in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. Club stickers with both logos are also available.
  • 7:00 PM – Potluck Dinner – Bring a favorite dish and beverages to share. Cam Leonard will once again provide a roast turkey.. Share a meal with friends and swap tales of your summer paddling adventures
  • 7:30 PM – Brief Business Meeting – Summary of 2018 activities – Nomination and election of new board members.
  • 7:50 PM – Crowd-sourced mini slideshows celebrating wild rivers, followed by the video “Run Wild Run Free: 50 Years of Wild and Scenic Rivers”

read more…

Nenana Wildwater Festival – August 17-18, 2018

Nenana Wildwater Festival – August 17-18, 2018

The Nenana Wildwater Festival takes place Saturday, August 18 near Denali Park, Alaska. This is the 42nd consecutive year for this longest running river event in Alaska.

The mass start downriver race begins at noon on the river left 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 or along the shoulder near the put-in. 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 17 from 5-9 pm and on Saturday, August 18 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. 



Reindeer Hills Overnight – June 9-10, 2018

Reindeer Hills Overnight – June 9-10, 2018

The Reindeer Hills Overnight will be the weekend of June 9-10, 2018.  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.

Trip Description:

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.

Brad Snow will coordinate this trip. He 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 svaldonza@gmail.com .

See you on the river!

Chena River Cleanup

Chena River Cleanup Rescheduled for June 13

The Paddlers’ annual cleanup of the Chena River through town has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 13. 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.

Chena River Cleanup 2017

Ray Hander, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has some fish traps (50-60 in all) in the water in the area where we will be working, so we want to be aware of them and not bother them. They are to monitor juvenile Chinook Salmon as they migrate out of the Chena River and head to sea. The traps are tied with parachute cord and are marked with surveyors flagging. They are labeled with a “Please do not Disturb” label referencing Ray and his project. If you accidentally pull one out of the water momentarily, just re-tie it and submerge it back in the place where it was found.  The traps may occur in pairs.

Note that Phillips Field Road will be closed for construction, so we will have to use the Johansen Expressway to set shuttle.

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 alanbatten@acsalaska.net, or at 488-3205.

Boat Swap at Beaver Sports, May 19, 2018

Boat Swap at Beaver Sports, May 19, 2018

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 19, 2018 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 Cam Leonard at (907)750-3084

Other questions? Please contact Fairbanks Paddlers at info@fairbankspaddlers.org

Upper Chena Paddle and Potluck 2018 – POSTPONED

Upper Chena Paddle and Potluck 2018 – POSTPONED

The 2018 Annual Paddle and Potluck trip on the upper Chena River scheduled for Saturday, May 12 has been postponed.

The National Weather Service special advisory statement as of Thursday afternoon reads:

Rising River levels through this weekend…

Temperatures in the upper 60’s and mid 70’s this week are resulting in significant melting of the higher elevation snowpac in the central and eastern interior. This is causing rapid runoff of the snowpack in the hills north and east of Fairbanks. Automated snow gages in the Upper Chena river basin earlier this week indicated there was approximately 7 to 16 inches of water stored in the remaining snowpack.

Water levels on rivers draining the hills north and east of Fairbanks will have significant rises over the next few days. This includes the Chena, little chena, Chatanika, Salcha, and Goodpaster rivers. Water could approach bankfull levels in some locations this weekend along with increased debris such as logs and sticks moving downriver. Water levels are expected to gradually fall early next week.

As of Friday  morning, May 11, the river at 40 mile bridge is at 18.8 4 feet and is predicted to peak near flood stage at 19.1 ft by mid-day Saturday.  At about 18.3 feet, the road usually has water over it in places and some river access points are closed.  There are few gravel bars out of the water, and river access at the first bridge put in and 31.4 mile take out can be challenging.  While there is plenty of water in which to maneuver, Swift currents can make hazards more challenging to avoid, and there may be new log jams or trees in the river.
I drove up to look at the river Thursday evening.  The water was near bank full.  The large gravel bar below first bridge is an island, and will likely disappear if the river rises as predicted. There is a large log jam on the upstream side of the bridge that can’t easily bee seen from a vehicle on the bridge.  It appears open on both river right and left, but requires avoiding some large logs in swift current. I observed several large logs floating downstream in the rising water near the 31.4 mile takeout.  Very little shore ice was  visible from the road at 31.4 mile, first bridge, and second bridge. There is some ice along shores visible downstream of third bridge.
I am hoping we can reschedule this when levels are at a more reasonable level.
Enjoy the warm weather.  If you go paddling this weekend, be safe out there.


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!

Delta Clearwater Trip – May 5-6, 2018

Delta Clearwater Trip – May 5-6, 2018

The Fairbanks Paddlers overnight trip on the Delta-Clearwater will be Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, 2017. The day trip will be Saturday, May 5.

For the overnight: Please contact Cam Leonard at (907) 750-3084 or at canoecam[at]gmail.com. Group size will be limited. Overnight participants should plan to meet at the put-in at the Clearwater campground at 1 pm on Saturday, May 5.

For the day trip: Bruce Campbell will coordinate the day trip.  Please notify Bruce know by Wednesday, May 2 if you plan to join this outing. Call or text (907) 322-9221,  or email brucecanoe@gmail.com.

If you are not a current member of Fairbanks Paddlers or need to renew your membership, complete the online membership form or you can download a membership form from the website, and either send in your completed form and fee ($10 individual or $15 family) or bring these to the trip meet up. Membership forms will also be available at the put-in.

Here’s a description of the river and the trip:

read more…

Ron and Lou’s Alaskan River Adventures Plus – March 14, 2018

Ron and Lou’s Alaskan River Adventures Plus – March 14, 2018

The second presentation in Fairbanks Paddlers spring series will feature  Ron and Lou Davis’s stories and images from several Alaskan river adventures. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at the Blue Loon.  Come early to enjoy food, beverages and camaraderie, and to celebrate Dave Gronemeier’s recovery and return to the Fairbanks paddling community.

Ron Davis will share accounts of two trips that involved significant rescues of other parties they encountered. The presentation will include the story of a rescue performed on a 2014 trip on the Gulkana River. It will also include pictures and a story of a rescue at the Falls of the Forty Mile River in 2015.

In addition, Larry Bartlett will share a 10 minute video of the work performed in the summer of 2017 to repair the Gelvin’s  airstrip on the Charley River.

The public is welcome to attend. Individuals under 21 must be accompanied by parents as per the Blue Loon’s policy.

American Canoe Association

Join Fairbanks Paddlers

Memberships run from
April 1 through March 31

$10 Individual
$15 Household
$150 Business
$100 Lifetime

Upcoming Events

June 12, 2019
  • Wednesday Night Paddle

    June 12, 2019
    Graehl Park, Front St, Fairbanks, AK 99701, USA
    See more details

June 26, 2019
July 10, 2019
July 24, 2019
August 4, 2019
  • Wooden Boat Rondy

    August 4, 2019
    Graehl Park to Pioneer Park, Fairbanks, AK
    See more details

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