New to Packrafting

To start, Great Forum!!!
I have strongly been considering trying this packrafting out, and I’m stoked to see that there is a forum like this with so many different people with such vast experience and knowledge in this sport. Now i just need to scrape together some extra cash to drop on a raft. My main question is where a good place would be for a weekend warrior like myself to get a taste of this type of rafting. I would probably need to rent a couple rafts for my first trip. I would like to try a river somewhat close to home here in EagleRiver and geared more for a couple of 'greenhorn" beginners that are looking for a relaxing overnight float. Any help with this would be great. From what I have read, 20 mile seems like an “ok” fit, as long as I can keep my fiance and myself from being sucked up into a jet boat’s intake…Thanks again for any advice!


You might consider doing the Crow Pass/Eagle River route, which is a classic. The boating is fairly easy, although you should be on guard for snags and sweepers. You also should plan on getting out at Echo Bend because the next mile below Echo Bend is not for beginners. While this route is doable in a day, turning it into an overnight makes for a pleasant trip.

Another classic is the Sanctuary in Denali.

More details on both rivers can be found elsewhere in the forum.

Thanks for the info. I’ll look into doing Eagle River hopefully some time soon in the future. :smiley:

I’m new to pack rafting and am looking for some trips to do in the South Central area. I have done some sea kayaking and have some experience with river kayaking (Class I and II). I am looking for trip ideas- day and overnight trips- to get used to the maneuverability of the raft and to improve my skills negotiating obstacles.

I would like to start with some class I rivers and then move on up as my skills develop. I was going to begin with the Knik River from where of the Old Glenn ends to the Glenn Hwy Bridge, which is rated as Class II upriver of the Butte Bridge and Class I below. Another beginner trip would be from the ER Nature Center to the Eagle River Loop Rd Bridge, which is supposed to be Class I.

I’m looking for suggestions for some trips, maybe overnight, to build up my skills. I have some river reading abilities and am traveling with someone who has slightly more experience than me. Are the Eagle River above Echo Bend and the Sanctuary appropriate for my current skill level or do they require more river skills? And what other trips are there for someone like me, who is just starting out?


I am looking at the crow pass- Eagle River crossing and want to know if anyone has done it recently? What things should I be looking out for? What are the main problems? Are there water gages and at what point should it not be run?

I have not done that section (from Crow Pass crossing to Echo Bend) this year but have done it several times in years past. The gage for Eagle River at the Glenn Hwy is

The “problems” are going to depend on type raft, skill level, and water level. From the crossing, not seen from the hiking trail, there are some moderately wicked rapids a few minutes downstream, last for maybe 3/4 mile or so. After that it is pretty much flat all the way to Echo Bend. There aren’t a terrible amount of sweepers. If the water is high and moving fast there will be less but the ones there are will be harder to avoid, and vice versa water low = more sweepers but easier to avoid. After Echo Bend there are some class IV+/- rapids depending on water level.

This does make a great hike and raft in that if you start hiking from the Nature Center you can scout a good percentage of the river while you are walking up, and no matter what direction you start from, if something goes wrong the trail is right there.

Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m fairly familar with the area.

I did this three days ago, from Girdwood to Eagle River. The largest obstacle we came across was the shoe-sucking mud on the trail below Raven Gorge.
I too am pretty new to this packraft thing and felt entirely at ease on the river. We put in right where the trail first intersects with the river, a little downstream from the ford site.
We took out for one sweeper which was clearly visible and one low water spot where the river braided out in a bunch of different directions.
I would say this is an excellent trip for a beginner packrafter. For ambitious groups it can easily be done in a day for some less than 8 hours. It could also be done as an overnighter. But as others have mentioned, it is more of a hike than a float as you hike 14 miles to the river and then float about 7 to Echo Bend.
I would avoid this when the water is low, it was a little boney after a few days of rain when we did it. Higher water is going to be your friend on this upper stretch of the river. Not the case at Echo Bend.
It’s a good time, have fun!