US Whitewater > Alaska > Happy River



Alaska whitewater, Happy River

Matanuska-Susitna county, Close to Sheep Lake to Skwentna River section whitewater kayaking, rafting, and paddling information.


CLASS III+     32.5 miles
HAPPY RIVER TRIP DESCRIPTION (by ALASKA RAFT CONNECTION): By floatplane from Lake Hood, we fly for an hour an a half to a tiny, cold mountain lake remotely hidden high above timber line in surrounding sub arctic tundra and the lofty summits of the Alaska Range. The bush flight in is enchantingly magnificent over an array of striking landscape. When weather allows, it is possible to flight-see - getting a glimpse of the Alaska Range (Denali)
    and close ups of the Kichatna Spires (awesome granite towers). Sheep Lake is situated near the upper reaches of the Happy River, and is the put-in for fly-in, whitewater float trip adventure.

The Happy River is a
wilderness whitewater experience, far away from any road access, and rarely visited. In the crystal clear upper sections, the Happy is high above tree line in what some have described as Ptarmigan Valley. This relatively open, sub-arctic environment is prime territory for the Willow Ptarmigan as well as other viewable wildlife including Wolves, Fox, Dall sheep, Caribou, Moose and Mountain Grizzly. Here the river is low-volume, very tight,  
and can be technical, running through abrupt riffles and several series of very swift whitewater studded with boulder gardens. Downstream, flow and gradient begin to increase and larger boulders of white granite raise the level of whitewater complexity. Advancing on, the creek matures into a river. Additional volume from tributary streams generates continuous and dynamic rapids that go on for hours. Gaining even greater volume and finally altering to a bluish-greenish-gray, the Happy churns through snake-like, twisting, and constricting high-walled ravines and canyons - making for some of the most fun wilderness whitewater in Alaska.

Fishing is more of an alternative activity and not a real highlight to the the Happy. There is seasonal fishing for King, Red, Silver, and Chum Salmon, Dolly Varden as well as Arctic Grayling... However, this river is steep and very swift with few calm water holes making it quite a challenge to land anything. Best fishing opportunities are near the confluence with the upper Skwentna River

Both historically and today, the Rainy Pass route runs closely atop the Happy river drainage getting mostly a flow of competitive wintertime traffic with the Iron Dog Snowmobile Race and is familiar section of the grueling Iditarod Sled Dog Trail on the Last Great Race to Nome. Rest stop below a whitewater rapid on Happy River - Helmet and Drysuit - ALASKA RAFT CONNECTION

Included In this Package:
* Trip leaves from Lake Hood, Anchorage
* Floatplane charter (roundtrip)
* 5 days 4 nights camping accommodations
* Miles & miles of continuous, very swift whitewater rafting and kayaking
* Gourmet meals
* 13' - 18' AIRE inflatable rafts
* Ask about Paddle Cats and Inflatable Kayaks
* All safety gear and instruction
* Fishing gear (provided if necessary)

Featured Highlights:
* Almost continuous and clear class III+ & IV+ Wilderness Whitewater Float Trip!!!
* Alaska sport fishing opportunities (not really the best, not the main focus, but still pretty good)
* PLEASE INQUIRE - about flight seeing Denali and the Granite towers of the Kichatna Spires!!!
* PLEASE INQUIRE - about self-bailing Whitewater Kayaking & personal Pac-Cats!!! Says Brian Richardson

Happy River, Close to Sheep Lake to Skwentna River road map
Printable road map with the put-in and take-out locations clearly marked.


Detailed Map

Stats for this river stretch

Local weather forecast

These outdoors activities are available near Happy River.
 Whitewater Near Happy River:
Skwentna River, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 20 miles away
      Class III+ - 113 miles long (Twin Glaciers to Skwentna)
Happy River, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 24 miles away
      Class III+ - 32.5 miles long (Close to Sheep Lake to Skwentna River)
 Trails Near Happy River:
Old Iditarod Trail, Matanuska-Susitna , 5 miles away
 Public Lands Near Happy River:
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, Anchorage - AK , 60 miles away

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Some content, including Reach Name, Class, Coordinates, and Length, comes from American Whitewater with permission.