Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon River Adventures
Nizina Glacier and Icebergs

Nizina River


SUNDOG EXPEDITIONS is excited to offer a raft trip down the Nizina and Chitina Rivers. For a total Alaska experience combine this fabulous float with a Copper River Adventure. Both trips begin in Valdez, Alaska.

This remote wilderness river is born at the base of the Nizina Glacier in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. The largest in the U.S. (six times larger than Yellowstone), it is the home of six of the tallest mountain peaks in North America. The Nizina River scenery includes gorgeous limestone cliffs, giant cascading waterfalls, and a 10 mile whitewater stretch through the spectacular Nizina Canyon. Hike in the Chitistone Valley, winter home of the Ahtna Indians who ran these rivers long ago in skin "Baidaras." Area wildlife includes black and brown bear, Dall sheep, mountain bison, wolves, moose, eagles, and even wolverines. Forty-five miles of river travel on the Nizina will bring us to the Chitina, which is the largest tributary of the Copper River. The name of the river is derived from "Chittyna," in Ahtna "chitty" means copper and "na" means water.

Nizina River Photos

by Lonnie Hutson

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  • Trip Details
  • Experience, Age, Fitness
  • Equipment Supplied
  • Weather
  • River Classification
  • Travel
  • FAQ'S

The Trip
Our trip begins when you reach the beautiful Alaska town of Valdez. There you may explore the area, or hike along the nearby Shoup Trail. The group will gather for an evening information meeting, then you will adjourn to your B&B to prepare for your trip. The morning starts with a half day scenic drive to historic McCarthy, Alaska. Spend the next day and aNizina Glacier half exploring this unique Alaska town and the nearby Kennicott Copper Mines, financed by JP Morgan and mined for over 4 million tons of copper oar before closing in 1938. McCarthy accommodations are included in the trip price. The river is accessible only by air and after a short morning scenic flight with McCarthy Air you will arrive at the Nizina Glacier where you will camp on the first evening. Your crew will have the rafts rigged and ready to explore beautiful Nizina Lake. In the morning after a fantastic hot breakfast prepared by the crew we are ready to go! From the headwaters of the Nizina River to its confluence with the Chitina River and on to the Copper , you will spend the remaining days of your trip floating 104 miles of river that takes you through the very heart of the Wrangell Mountains. Peaks rise up a full mile from the valley floor. Our trip concludes five miles downstream on the Copper River at O'Brien Creek, where our van will meet us for the short ride back to Valdez.

Camping on the Nizina River
In keeping with the nature of the place, SUNDOG EXPEDITIONS provide a participatory experience. We camp daily along the river, on sandy beaches and benches. You will be involved in setting up camp and you have, if you like, the opportunity to help the crew in the preparation of meals.

Group Size
Our group size is limited by the National Park Service to 15 members, including guides and guests.

Experience, Age, Fitness
This trip is suitable for individuals of varying levels of experience. The minimum age for participation is 14 years old and there is no upper limit. You should be in reasonable physical condition and those with serious health concerns should be aware that this trip is conducted in true wilderness. First time campers are welcome and will acquire skills in outdoor living with the help of our very experienced guides.Nizina River Campfire

Equipment Supplied
SUNDOG EXPEDITIONS provides each guest with a Coast Guard Approved/Type V Lifejacket, all eating utensils (including plates, bowls, and flatware), an insulated coffee mug with lid, a high quality 4-season tent (double occupancy), a pair of knee-high rubber boots, heavy duty raingear (tops and bottoms), wetsuit, waterproof bags, and storage for Nizina Moosebreakable items.

To insure your comfort we are happy to provide you with a high quality four-season tent. We will teach you how to set it up if you have no experience or are unfamiliar with the equipment.

Layers are always a good bet. When you sign up for a trip with us, you will receive an information package which will include a detailed list of what you will need to bring with you to be comfortable both on the river and at camp.

Sundog Expeditions has Rental Sleepkits available. Avoid the hassle of traveling with bulky sleeping gear by renting equipment to use during your trip. Each kit includes a warm high quality sleeping bag, comfortable sleeping pad (paco pad), ground cloth, and pillow. Our sleepkits are thoroughly laundered after each use.
Rentals are $40 per person/trip.

The Nizina River is located in an Alaska weather transition zone, which means that the weather at the beginning of the trip will often be dry with chances for precipitationNizina wall increasing as we near the coastal zone near the Gulf of Alaska. You should be prepared for variability. It is often warm and sunny, but it can become windy, cold, and rainy for extended periods of time. Temperatures range from the 40's and 50's (Fahrenheit) at night, to the 60's 70's and 80's in the daytime. It is always cool while we are floating on the river.

You will not need to bring a flashlight with you.

River ClassificationNizina lake
This stretch of river is rated Class II - III Whitewater and large hydraulics

When you sign up for a trip with us you will receive a detailed information pack which will include information on travel and accommodations

Major Airlines provide service from the lower 48 to Anchorage, they include: Alaska Airlines, Northwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta.

From Anchorage you will book a round-trip flight to Valdez. Alaska Airlines and ERA Aviation work together to book these flights. You can call either Alaska Airlines at (800) 252-7522 or ERA Aviation at (800) 866-8394. You may also consider renting a car for the six hour driveNizina Plane

For an extended adventure you might consider taking the ferry (Alaska Marine Highway) from Bellingham, WA or Prince Rupert, BC up to Haines, AK. The trip takes you up the Inland Passage in 3-4 days and makes stops at a number of Alaska seaport towns along the way. It is then an easy two day drive from Haines to Valdez.

Meals and Food
All meals will be provided on the river beginning with lunch on the first day of your trip and ending with lunch on the river before we reach our take-out. We serve a wonderful menu of delicious and healthy foods. Including fresh fruits, vegetables and meats which we carry in large coolers. Each evening and morning your crew will prepare amazing meals and lunch will be prepared on the river at around noontime. We are able to accommodate most dietary requests and requirements.Nizina River

A sample menu for one day might go something like this...For Breakfast, Fresh Brewed Coffee, Tea, and Orange Juice, Blueberry Pancakes with real Maple Syrup, Thick-sliced Bacon, and Grapefruit and Orange Compote. For Lunch on the river...Mexican Burrito Wrap Sandwiches with Tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa. And later on at camp, Egg Drop Soup, Marinated Mushrooms, Gouda Cheese and Crackers. Dinner of fresh Curried Shrimp served with Balsamic Rice and a fresh Caesar Salad. For Dessert...Cheesecake!

in order to maintain the pristine camps on the Nizina River we carry out all waste and trash. Each day when you arrive at camp your guides will set up a private portable toilet system. Please don't worry! Your comfort is paramount and your crew will explain everything you need to know at the very beginning your trip

Our guides work very hard to provide a great trip for you. At your discretion, a tip may be left with your trip leader and will be appreciated by all of your crew