Gulkana River - Middle Fork
Gulkana RiverBLM asks that all users do their part to help maintain the wild character of the Gulkana River through low impact camping techniques.

New! Gulkana River Users Guide for Paxson to Sourdough Float.


Gulkana River Middle Fork informationGulkana River - Middle Fork

The main access to the Middle Fork of the Gulkana River is from the boat launch at the Delta Wild and Scenic River Wayside, MP 21.5 on the Denali Highway. Travel south through the Upper Tangle Lakes to reach Dickey Lake, portaging your craft as needed (there are approximately 5 portages). The Portage trails are not marked, but the terrain is low-brush tundra and you can scout along the ridges. The use of a U.S. Geological Survey topographical map (Mt. Hayes A5 and Gulkana D5) is highly recommended for these wilderness portages. As an alternative, you can charter a small fixed-wing float plane to Dickey Lake.

Dickey Lake's outlet is at the extreme southeast point of the lake. For the first three miles below the lake, the Middle Fork is very shallow and flows through riffles and rocks at a gradient of 30 feet/mile. Then, the river abruptly plunges into a short, steep canyon and the gradient triples. Large boulders in the Class II-III rapids make maneuvering difficult. Very careful lining or portaging is necessary. After the canyon, riffles and rocks are common for about six miles. The gradient drops to 25 feet/mile and finally to one foot/mile before joining the Main Branch.

Allow six to seven days for the entire trip (76 miles) from Tangle Lakes to Sourdough. If you fly in to Dickey Lake, subtract one to two days.