Chulitna, Alaska, US
|Usual Difficulty||II (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||18 fpm|
|Max Gradient||36 fpm|
The Chulitna River has an inactive gauge only. However, it usually has fairly predictable flows from late May to early September. The East and Middle Forks are dependant upon snow melt and rainfall, while the West Fork is mostly glacial. Therefore, if it's been raining, the first day will have high water. If it's been sunny, the second and third days will have high water.
Put-In and Take-Out
There are several access options, depending on your time frame.
The Chulitna River offers a scenic three day or quick two day river trip within a Friday night's drive of both Anchorage and Fairbanks. Therfore, it tends to see a fair amount of traffic from rafters and canoers. It also has some excellent fishing in the upper sections, and some excellent moose hunting on the wilderness side. Expect to see some jet boat traffic as you get closer to Talkeetna. All of this being said, the Chulitna still offers an easy, cheap way to get out on the water, with plenty of solitude, and great beaches for camping.
The standard put-in is on the East Fork Chulitna (river mile 0), a small, swift, creek with a healthy grayling and dolly varden population. Kayakers will enjoy several good play spots, and rafts will be busy navigating the narrow channels and avoiding the rounded boulders. Trees often fall across the entire river channel in this section. The Middle Fork Chulitna is reached at river mile 4, which nearly doubles the volume. Fun splashy class II rapids continue until Honolulu Creek at river mile 8.5. During salmon season, expect to see some traffic in this area. The West Fork of the Chulitna confluence is reached at river mile 9, and the glacially fed waters double the volume again, and change the color to gray. Hurricane Gulch is reached at river mile 13. Downstream, the river sweeps around turns with large waves and holes along the outside bend. Everything is easily missed, but canoers at high water will have their hands full. A braided section begins at river mile 19, and lasts for 7 miles, where another canyon section is reached. This short, 4 mile long canyon has some beautiful rock formations, and some good camps toward the end, just before the braided section. The Fountain River confluence is reached at river mile 37.5, and the Tokositna River at 49.5. In clear weather, incredible views of the Moose's Tooth and the other granite walls of the Alaska Range can be seen from the river. Troublesome Creek flows in from the left side at river mile 53, and lets you know that you're almost done with the braids, which end at river mile 56. The Chulitna River Bridge is reached at river mile 57.5. Below the bridge, the river remains in a single channel for 10 miles. Talkeetna is reached at river mile 77. Talkeetna means "Three Rivers", and is the point of confluence for the Talkeetna, Susitna, and Chulitna River.