Erin and I were able to have a weekend off at the same time in July and jumped at the chance to float the Sanctuary River in Denali National Park. We have both been wanting to do this trip for some time. There are several ways to get into the top of the Sanctuary. We opted for the luxury edition.
We spent the money for the bus ride into the park. The bus dropped us off near the Teklanika River. Within the first 10 minutes we were 100 feet from a beautiful blonde grizzly, though he wanted to get away from us in a hurry. We crossed over a low pass and dropped onto the floodplain of the Tek. We walked up the braided river for some time, all the time taking in the beautiful landscape and the every present wildlife. I believe all in all we saw 9 bears, and a handful of caribou. We set up camp the first night just up a tributary of the Tek.
The next morning we headed up the small drainage to the pass that leads you into Refuge Valley (I am not sure on the name of this pass). We were able to bag a peak from the pass before heading down to the valley floor.
On our way down we encountered some truly beautiful wildflowers as well as several bears. One bear in particular, a 600lb boar, came bounding at us as soon as he saw us. As soon as he caught out smell though he took off at a full sprint to his snow field to continue his lounging. That night we camped next to a fresh water creek that was feeding into the main drainage.
In the morning we blew up the rafts and started out float out to the park road where we would be picked up again by the bus. We had to line a boats a little bit for the first mile or two, but after that we were golden. Easy floating and gorgeous views were in store. We ran into several other packrafters on the river and waiting for the bus. Seems that is trip has become quite the popular one. Glad we got to do it before it get too overrun.
We packrafted the 20 mile river in July. The group consisted of Steve, Barb, Peter, Erin, Theresa and me. We left anchorage around 7:00am and dropped a car where the Seward Highway crossed the 2o mile. After returning to Girdwood we set off up the Winner Creek trail. The trail is around 8 miles up to the pass and is stellar the whole way. There were still several snow fields to cross, but they were easy to go around. We continued down the pass before dropping off onto a heavily used game trail. After another 3 or 4 miles we reached the 20 mile river.
The float out was pretty good. We had to get out and walk around log jams in a couple spots and at one point the river ran into the woods. We ended up having to walk down a dry channel a ways until we came to another braid. After years of wanting to do the 20 mile I finally did this trip, and I will do it again.