Paddle the Dadina River

Dadina River Packrafting Trip

Class IV water. World Class Packrafting. Remote. Rugged. Rewind.


  • Return transport from Anchorage - Wrangell - St. Elias National Park
  • Bush flights into the park
  • All packrafting equipment
  • The rarely, rarely paddled Dadina River
  • Portage the Canyon
  • Hopefully, just maybe, see the bison here that live here.

The Dadina River is an exceptional whitewater packraft trip, and due to it’s location, one not many people have undertaken. I typically suggest this trip as an extension for folks doing the Sanford Plateau hike. It’s also a great 3 day trip to just fly in and start at the Dadina River.

Not too many people packraft the Dadina, but it’s a real gem of a river. The trip involves 30 miles of awesome Dadina River whitewater packrafting, and 30 more miles down the massive Copper River. Bring your camping gear, your boating skills, a sense of adventure and your GoPro!

Packraft the Dadina River

Fly in from Glennallen to Dadina River, land near the headwaters of the Upper Dadina. We can be flexible with the itinerary, somewhat, but I suggest we spend a day at least hiking here, through the boreal spruce forest, and even get up to the ridges overlooking the River valley below. It’s very possible to make this an overnight backpack, spend a night on the plateau, then make our way back to the Dadina and put on the water.

From here, it’s a good day paddle down to the Canyon (as with all river trips, this is highly dependent on water levels; flexibility required). We can camp before the canyon, scout the canyon, and decide whether to run the first section or portage it. Even at medium water levels it can be a burly paddle, so I suggest portaging it for most folks.

Most of the rest of the day will be spent running the Dadina. We’ll aim to camp a few miles before hitting the Copper River.

The next day, run the Dadina down to the Copper River, and from there we’ll float the Copper River down to our takeout at Chitina. The Copper River isn’t big whitewater, but it requires attention at all times.

There are usually a number of bald eagles along the river, and also moose, bears and possibly bison (expect to see them up the Dadina).

Water levels vary a lot with glacier-fed rivers like this one, so this is contingent on a few factors. Firstly, the requirements for packrafters on this river are:

  1.  You must be able to swim. Confidently.
  2. Some prior whitewater packrafting and/or kayaking experience. 
  3. Intermediate-challenging; Class II, III and possibly IV paddlers.
  4. Ability to carry the extra packrafting gear on the backpack section of the route (NB: we MAY be able to havepackrafting gear flown in to the Dadina if we have guests on the route who are NOT packrafting, and flying out from here). Count on 10lbs of packrafting gear.

We may well have to portage part of the paddling section, if the water is high. The Canyon is pretty burly water, at best, and difficult to scout safely. Expect an approximate 1 mile portage.

What's Included?

Expeditions Alaska will provide all the gear necessary, including fitted Alpacka packrafts, drysuits, helmets, paddles, PFD (personal flotation device, and dry bags. We can provide dry bags as well, though it’s a good idea to have some small ones yourself. We can either provide camping gear (tent, sleeping pad, etc) or bring your own. You will need your own sleeping bag.

Expeditions Alaska will provide transport for you to/from Glennallen/Anchorage for the trip. All you need do is show up with your sense of adventure, appropriate clothing for some hiking (and a thermal base layer or 2) and we’re good to go. We’ll provide you with a complete gear list for the trip to help you pack.

These are fly in trips, so we’ll take a short air taxi ride in to the backcountry, hop out of the plane, and we’re on our way.

  • If you want to hike over from Sanford River, yes. We can do a few days backpacking trip on the Sanford Plateau, drop down to Dadina and packraft from there.

    If you want to just do dayhiking on this packrafting trip I’d suggest we schedule an extra day or even 2 on the upper Dadina River area. We could do another day for side hikes along the paddling portion.

  • This trip is for people with whitewater packrafting or kayaking experience only.

    You need to be a solid Class IV boater to talk about coming on this trip.

    Class III boating experience is OK, we’ll have to portage a little more.

  • Expeditions Alaska will outfit your packrafting trip. That includes packraft, spray skirt and boat deck, dry suit or splash wear (trip dependent), neoprene paddling gloves and booties. Whitewater trips include helmets. All paddlers are provided with an approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device).

    Dry bags are included for you as well.

    Your guide will also carry a tow strap, throw bag and line, plus the usual backcountry safety equipment of sat phones, first aid kits, etc.

    If you have your own equipment, you’re welcome to use that instead. Let’s talk about it first and make sure your rig is appropriate for this trip.

  • I know you do. I do as well.

    I recommend starting with the General Trip FAQ page

    More questions? Email me or call me  and we’ll go through them.

    Upon your reservation I’ll also send out a comprehensive trip information packet that covers just about everything and more you might imagine about your trip.

Where Are We?

You May Also Like
Expeditions Alaska
Visit the wild