The Alatna River flows from the Endicott Mountains 145 miles southeast to the Koyukuk River. The main stem of the river is within Gates of the Artic National Park and Preserve (measuring 83 miles) and was designated a wild river in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The Alatna River flows from lakes high on the Artic Divide and drains the central Brooks Range.
December 2, 1980. The main stem within Gates of the Arctic National Park.
The first 40 miles of the Alatna exhibit fast currents and rapids; upstream of Ram Creek, users can experience Class III rapids. However, the river slows as it widens out in the lower reaches, providing a relatively safe and calm rafting experience. Adjacent valleys and 6,000- to 7,000-foot mountains along the river’s upper portion provide the user with excellent hiking. The Alatna River is also the primary means of access for mountain climbers interested in visiting the Arrigetch Peaks, which are famous for the rugged, challenging rock climbing and mountaineering experience they offer, attracting climbers from around the world.
Access to the Alatna is by floatplane (e.g., at Circle Lake, Summit Lake, Takahula Lake) or bush plane via air services from the town of Bettles.
The Alatna River corridor has stunning scenery. More than half of the river provides views of magnificently adjoined snowcapped mountains. Sites immediately off the river offer views of the Arrigetch Peaks, a granitic disturbance that is a natural national landmark. Contrasting colors and types of vegetation add diversity to the Alatna’s scenery. The vegetation itself, from moist tundra on the valley floor to alpine tundra on the mountain slopes, is contrasted by steep rocky bluffs along the river’s edges. Mountains flanking the Alatna provide significant geological diversity, including limestone, shale, quartzite, slate, and schist formations.