The Mulchatna River originates in the Chigmit Mountains (a sub-range of the Alaska and Aleutian Ranges) at Turquoise Lake and flows west through its foothills approximately 22 miles to the border of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The river continues an additional 49 miles through state land before joining the Chilikadrotna, then continues 113 miles before joining the Nushagak River, which flows an additional 104 miles into Bristol Bay near Dillingham.
December 2, 1980. The segment within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.
There are several known fish species in the Upper Mulchatna, including rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, and three species of salmon (Chinook, coho, and chum). Fish densities are similar to other alpine clearwater streams in western Alaska, and the upper reaches of the river provide excellent rearing and spawning habitat to support its various fisheries.
During the late pre-historic and historic period, the important Dena’ina Telaquana Trail connected Kijik Village on Lake Clark with other villages in the Nushagak and Kuskokwim drainages. The Telaquana Trail crosses both the upper Chilikadrotna and upper Mulchatna Rivers at traditional fords, which remain crossable even during higher summer flows.
The Mulchatna offers exceptional recreational opportunities including floating, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, hunting, trapping, and photography. The corridor provides exceptional opportunities for solitude. Since only a few groups float the river each year, most trips are unlikely to encounter each other. The river often flows swiftly through the forest constantly cutting new channels and making for many short, but difficult, portages.
For most of the designated reach, the river is a fast-flowing Class I-II river boatable in a canoe, kayak, raft, or pack raft. The Mulchatna generally offers a less dramatic, but more demanding, floating experience than the Chilikadrotna.
The river corridor has few traces of human use or habitation, and natural geologic, hydrologic, and biologic processes are free from on-site modern human influence. The headwaters of the river exist in a primitive and natural state.
Scenery along the Mulchatna is exceptional, particularly near its Turquoise Lake headwaters. Turquoise Lake is surrounded by peaks that rise 3,000 to 5,000 feet above the lake’s 2,500-foot elevation. Downstream, the Chigmit Mountain foothills continue to provide a scenic backdrop until the river cuts through the Bonanza Hills.