Delta Wild and Scenic River General Information

Delta National wild, scenic and recreational river banner


Sunset over the Delta River

Delta River Season and Climate

The Delta River running season generally begins in early to mid-June, depending on ice breakup and precipitation. Average annual precipitation, measured at Paxson, is 11 inches of rain and 120 inches of snow. July is commonly the wettest month. During the summer, temperatures range from 35°F to 70°F with occasional highs in the 80s. By mid-September the shorter daylight and colder temperatures bring the river recreation season to an end.  


Catch and release fishing photo

Fish and Fishing on the Delta River

Tangle Lakes and the Delta River contain grayling, round whitefish, lake trout, burbot and longnose suckers, with grayling fishing as the most popular choice. Good lake trout fishing is available in late winter and early spring. Salmon are not found in the Delta River due to the 15-foot-high falls and the heavy silt load entering from Eureka Creek. For more information on fishing, obtain a copy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Fishing Regulations and the BLM brochure Alaska Freshwater Fishing.


Archeological Artifacts found in the Delta River areaDelta River History and Pre-history

The Ahtna people and their ancestors have used the Delta River corridor for hunting, gathering and trading since at least the end of the last ice age, over 10,000 years ago. Several hundred significant prehistoric and historic sites can be found along its length. The upper end of the Delta River corridor is within the 226,660 acre Tangle Lakes Archaeological District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The first historic use of the Delta River corridor was in 1898, when Lieutenant J.C. Castner lead a U.S. Army expedition down the river to the Tanana Valley. Several hundred miners have also used the Eureka Creek Mining District since gold was discovered on Rainy Creek around 1900. Yet other miners have passed through the area on their way over the Top of the World Trail, also called the Yost Trail, toward gold discoveries in Valdez Creek far to the west. There are still active mining claims in the Rainy Creek area. Please respect the area's archaeology, the collection or disturbance of prehistoric or historic sites is against the law.

The trans-Alaska pipeline, built in the mid 1970's, is visible from the river for three miles before the take out on the Richardson Highway (Mile 212.5). To learn more about the history and prehistory of the area, visit our cultural pages.


Vegatation around Delta RiverDelta River Vegetation and Wildlife

Vegetation includes various plant associations ranging from arctic tundra to spruce-poplar forests. Grasses, sedges and forbes grow on the highest, most exposed slopes of the Delta River and above the brush line. Willows grow on moist, lowland sites and in the many brushy draws draining the side slopes.

Dwarf birch occupies the drier sites along the Delta River associated with well drained soils. Alder is found on the steep slopes of hillsides and canyon walls. Forests of white and black spruce occur below an elevation of 3,200 feet in small pockets along the Delta River and on some hillsides. Open spruce-poplar forests occupy lowland sites along the river and some mid slopes of hillsides adjacent to the river.

Understory plants are varied and abundant. Fireweed, bistort, rose, mountain-avens, burnet, and shrubby cinquefoil are just some of the many plants found in the Delta River corridor. Many people travel to Tangle Lakes to pick blueberries. Other berries found near the Delta River include crowberry, alpine bearberry, cranberry and red currant.

Wildlife provides opportunities for sport hunting, trapping, photography and viewing. Hunters seek moose, caribou, bear, Dall sheep, ptarmigan, waterfowl and snowshoe hare. Trappers concentrate on taking beaver, fox, wolf, marten, lynx, wolverine, otter, muskrat and mink. Wildlife viewing is best in the early morning.

Most of the 110 species of birds identified in this area are summer residents (May to September) of the Delta River corridor. Nesting bald eagles can be observed along the Delta River from Tangle Lakes to the lower Delta River during the summers. Waterfowl are hunted on the Tangle Lakes in autumn and ptarmigan are hunted among the low hills and valleys of the area in autumn and late winter.