This photo needs editing.
Difficulty IV
Length 4 Miles
Flow Range 4.55 - 5.50 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 5.31 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/25/2012 10:44 pm

River Description

Warning: Access Issue on Ship Creek!

Please see the article, linked on the right. This lovely creek passes through an Army light-tactical training area. A paddler was cited for trespassing in late 2009. Legal access is unknown at this time.

A beautiful, crystal clear, steep, relatively warm stream 5 minutes outside of Anchorage. Scenery and whitewater are TOP notch! Bring your creekboat. A nice little low-volume creek flowing out of the Chugach Mountains. Highly technical. Starts out as a Class II warm-up w/ little boulder gardens. After about 1 mile it starts to pick up into the III-IV range with several large boulder-garden drops. Watch out for riverwide downed tree around 2 miles down (must portage around). Continue about 2.5 miles to the Canyon. Just before the Canyon the creek makes a sharp left turn and twists back to the right. You'll come out of a big open valley and into tight gorge walls. The Canyon itself is 1.25 miles long and is class IV. No wider than 10 ft in some areas. The very beginning & very end of the canyon have a class IV rapid. Stay left all the way down the 1st 100 yards on the 1st rapid. At the waterfall at the end stay towards the left side and boof--it will be a slight left-hand angle (right-hand stroke). Be prepared to possibly slam into a pillow against a rock on your left.

Directly after running the waterfall, take out at gravel road on left. (You must portage around the dam-NOT runnable). Hike up gravel road for 5 minutes until the road makes a right-hand turn and there is a cut-out area on your left. Look for stacked rocks and take the trail inbetween the rocks. It is very steep, but fairly easy to follow (must walk across a big log about half-way down). Portage takes about 15-20 minutes tops. I made this trail recently, after growing tired of bushwacking, devil's club, and falling. Use ropes at end to lower yourself & boat & PLEASE leave them there. Put back in creek and paddle 100 ft and get out again. Portage around wooden weir structure built into water (takes 2 minutes). (VERY dangerous from total undercut & nails/rebar.) Paddle until you get to the take-out bridge (about .5 miles).

Takes 5 hours to set shuttle, get geared up, hike-in, run it, portage, & load up.

PUT-IN DIRECTIONS: take Glenn Highway out of Anchorage for about 5 minutes until you see Arctic Valley Road on your right. Exit and stay straight. You will pass a golf course and go through a few open gates until the road turns to dirt. Continue up mountain for about 10 minutes until you see the Ski Area in view (look for chairlifts). Turn off on big gravel pull-out on right and park. You will see a hiking trail blocked from motor-vehicle access that leads down to the creek/valley. Make sure to bring a strap to drag your boat with. Hike down trail about 30 minutes until you can see the creek about 100 yrds away. Cut across small wetland feature and put in! (MOSTLY DOWNHILL!!!) & watch for moose/bears.

TAKE-OUT DIRECTIONS: take Glenn Highway out of Anchorage for about 5 minutes until you see Artic Valley Road on your right. Exit and stay straight. You will pass a golf course... THEN KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED for a sign that says Snowbird cabins (or some kind of cabins sign) on your right. Take that road until you get to the bridge that crosses Ship Creek. Park in the gravel turnaround 'cause this is your takeout (the best takeout).


Bonus video: From a comment: "Ship's great for packrafts when at 5 feet or lower on gauge. See and" Thanks for the video!

Rapid Descriptions


Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


default user thumbnail
10 years ago

Ship's great for packrafts when at 5 feet or lower on guage. See and

Gage Descriptions

4.82 ft is very low and scrapey, but doable. 5.5 is a perfect level. Anything above that makes the creek pushier and faster. High water level paddling can be done, but at your own risk.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Ship Creek (AK) Access Issue

Thomas O'Keefe

Ship Creek Canyon has been known for several years as a great Alaskan whitewater run just outside downtown Anchorage that flows through the military's Fort Richardson light-tactical training area. Recently the base has stepped up enforcement of a paddling ban and charged local paddler with trespassing on military land for paddling Ship Creek this past summer.


Tim Johnson


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193920 07/15/04 Tim Johnson
1201426 06/25/12 Matt Muir Added text about access issue and lynx to video; fixed spelling in "Section" field; added abstract.