Gulkana River - West Fork (North and South Branches)
Gulkana River Scenic PhotoBLM asks all users 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.


West Fork Gulkana River scenic photoGulkana River - West Fork (North and South Branches)

The West Fork Gulkana River is comprised of two branches, the North Branch and the South Branch. Both branches are characterized by a series of slow, meandering river bends with many oxbow lakes and numerous log jams and sweepers that may inhibit travel.

A South Branch West Fork trip begins at Lake Louise and continues through Susitna Lake and the Tyone River. Next, a series of four portages between muskeg areas and shallow lakes are necessary to reach the South Branch of the West Fork. The route then traverses lake-dotted country that is exceptional wildlife habitat. This is one of the most remote and least visited areas of the Gulkana watershed.

The South Branch joins the North Branch to form the West Fork. From this junction the river flows slowly for four miles. It then enters a canyon and class II water, where it speeds through small rapids and around large boulders before quieting down to a series of riffles and slow runs, until its junction with the Main Branch of the Gulkana.

Access to the North Branch begins by flying into one of the two unnamed lakes at the headwaters of the North Branch. Until its confluence with the South Branch, the North Branch of the Gulkana is characterized by slow, meandering river bends rated at Class I with occasional sections of Class II small rapids.

Note: These are extended wilderness trips with portages, stretches of lining needing, and remote conditions. Allow 7 to 14 days to complete these approximately 110-mile adventures. U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps (Gulkana D6, C6, C5 and C4) and good map-reading skills are essential. Consult with the BLM in Glennallen if planning these trips.