Nenana River

Written by Jerrica

We ditched the trailer for the Nenana River.  We put our duckie, Debbie the Duckie, in the van along with 2 paddles, our PDFs, and a couple of dry bags.  The Nenana is near Denali along the park highway.  We did the stretch that starts at mile post 220 and took out at the Jonesville Bridge below Kingfisher Creek.  The first 10 miles ends at McKinley Village and is relaxed and calm.  There is an option to take out here but we did an extra 10 miles of whitewater to the Jonesville Bridge… 20 total river miles.

Kevin dropped me off with the duckie and all the gear, then drove the van to the take out and hitched a ride back to me.  It was nice having the van at the end, but it took him about 30-40 minutes before someone picked him up.

The Nenana is glacial water, and the day wasn’t terribly warm (the high was 58 F that day), so we bundled up in some warm layers underneath our dry suits.

During this stretch of river there is a confluence with the Yanert River, which flows directly from the glaciers of Mt. Deborah and as a result the Nenana gets instantly colder, faster, and darker from the sediment load. 

One of the reasons we love the duckie is because medium-sized rapids are instantly more fun.  We take advantage of the duckie whenever possible, and this stretch was well worth is.  We got wet, and every time the water splashed me in the face it took my breath away, but it wouldn’t be as fun in a raft.

We’d recommend doing this stretch of river in dry suits, especially if you’re in a duckie.  You’d probably stay dry/warm enough if you’re in a raft.