Nizina River Packrafting Trip

Class III water. Class 6 scenery. A world class packrafting adventure.

  • Whitewater packrafting
  • Overnight packraft trip
  • Backpack/Packraft combination available
  • Visit McCarthy, AK

Fly from McCarthy to the toe of Nizina Glacier where you’ll paddle beside massive icebergs, before turning to venture down the river. The lake paddle provides a great opportunity to get comfortable in your boat, go over some basic boating safety and paddle strokes, and get your confidence up. A great trip for beginning paddlers because you don’t step out of the air taxi and drop straight into fast, gnarly whitewater.

The paddle takes you packrafting down the relatively mild waters of Nizina River, through some simply stunning landscape. A short walk from the landing strip gives you breathtaking views of Nizina Glacier, as well as classic Alaska mountain views. Packraft down Nizina River, see waterfalls over 200-300’ tall, glaciers winding infinite valleys into the nearby mountains, and the magnificent Mile High Cliffs, massive limestone bluffs that rise from the valley floor over 5000 vertical feet above. Possible wildlife sightings include black bear, grizzly bear, porcupine, moose, mountain goats and Dall sheep, foxes and more. Golden eagle live here as well, as do trumpeter swans, spruce grouse, willow ptarmigan and raven, as well as an array of songbirds and small shorebirds like Dippers, tattlers and even sandpipers.

Paddle to take out, hike to McCarthy.

Nizina River is a great packraft adventure for people with some whitewater kayaking or packrafting experience.

Nizina River Packrafting Video

Trip FAQs

  • There are a few features in the upper river that require your attention. We can also walk this section if need be.

    The lower canyon, just before the takeout, can be a bit squirly.

    You definitely need some whitewater boating experience.

  • I’ve done this paddle in a single day. Water levels can affect the time drastically.

    I think it’s best as an overnight packraft, and even better with a day on Nizina Lake and Nizina Glacier before hand.

    Or, backpack down from Skolai on The Goat Trail, we’ll pick up our boats at Nizina, and start the trip there.

  • Then swim hard.

    Packrafting is all about self-rescue. Yes your guide is there with a throw bag and safety line. But packrafting requires you to be competent at some degree of self-rescue. Hold on to your paddle, grab your boat, flip it up the right way, and climb back in.


  • No, we’ll cover all that.

    Packrafts, paddles, PFDs, helmets, booties, drysuit, etc.

    Dry bags and safety gear.

    All included.

  • We have a couple of backpacking options. One is to hike down the Goat Trail. Allow 5-6 days for that.  shorter hike is to hike down from Wolverine (the west end of the Goat Trail). Allow 1-2 days for that.

    For the Goat Trail I recommend having the packrafting gear flown in when we get to Nizina.

    I’d suggest carrying packraft gear if you hike from Wolverine. It’s not that far, will lower the cost significantly over having it flown in and is logistically much easier.


  • Very briefly

    Day 1 – We pick you up and drive to McCarthy, overnight there, and fly in to the backcountry the next morning. … hike … 2nd Last day – We fly back to McCarthy, overnight there.

    Last Day – We take you back to Anchorage and drop you at your hotel.

    For a much more comprehensive outline and schedule of this, see this page

  • There certainly is.

    Avoid the hassles of carrying a heavy backpack. As an example, travel to our jumping-off destination, overnight, fly into the backcountry, camp and explore the area via day hikes and packrafts (* option on some trips), fly back, overnight and return travel to Fairbanks/Anchorage. Trip logistics and itinerary will vary with the specific trip. Fully-outfitted or do it yourself.

    These trips are extremely flexible, wonderfully fun and a whole lot easier on your body than a backpacking trip is.

    Looking for something “in the middle”? Sure, we can do that too. Fly in and out of the same location, and make a smaller backpacking loop or out and back, combining a few days camping and a few days of backpacking. Contact me via email or call 1-770-952-4549 and we’ll set it up.

  • 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.

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