Alaska Region

Email: alaska@packraft.org

The heartland of modern packrafting, Alaska’s well-established packrafting community makes this the state with the most APA members. From epic cross country wilderness trips to tackling large scale conservation issues, APA's team in Alaska makes it happen.

Photo: Haley Johnston

Alaska is a unique place to packraft, not just because of the sheer scale of the terrain, but also the demands of cross-country travel in the vast roadless, trail-less Alaskan interior. Modern packrafts were developed to meet this challenge, in a landscape where river corridors provide seasoned adventurers access to places that would otherwise be all but impossible to reach on foot.

Packrafting in Alaska has consistently pushed the envelope in terms of technique and endurance. Packrafts have been used as sleds for glacier crossings, hauling game out of the Alaskan bush, carrying fat-bikes on bike-packing expeditions up the coast, and much more. The members of the Alaskan packrafting community continue to help define, and redefine, what’s possible with a packraft.

Many well-known faces in packrafting hail from Alaska, and their packrafts have taken them around the world. Roman Dial, whose 2008 book Packrafting! An Introduction and How to Guide welcomed many of us to the sport, was the first recipient of APA’s Golden Paddle award in 2010. APA’s founding President Brad Meiklejohn, who opened The Conservation Fund’s Alaska office in 1994, was among the first people to recognize the packrafting community possesses a powerful voice to influence critical access and conservation issues. Luc Mehl, author of The Packraft Handbook, is known for his self-supported expeditions that carried packrafts to some of Alaska's highest summits.

Illustration: Sarah Glaser
Photo: Theresa Lunquist

Conservation issues in Alaska come as big as the terrain. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last truly undeveloped, unspoiled places on Earth, has survived repeated attempts to open up the Refuge for oil drilling, but the threat remains. The proposed Pebble Mine in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed would tap into the largest known undeveloped copper ore deposit in the world, while endangering wild salmon and other fish stocks downstream. In 2021, the BLM is updating their management plan for 13.3 million acres adjacent to Gates of the Arctic National Park — an area that includes 11 rivers that could qualify for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers — with a plan that threatens to remove nearly all environmental protections and focuses on resource extraction almost to the exclusion of other uses such as recreation and subsistence. APA has partnered with the Alaska Wilderness League and other leading conservation groups to oppose these threats to intact ecosystems, wildlife, and the unparalleled opportunities for wilderness recreation that Alaska offers.

ALASKA CHAPTER / apA NATIONAL LIAISON

Becky King

Becky is a graduate student in outdoor and environmental education and a seasonal National Park Service backcountry ranger. She discovered packrafting and mountains shortly after moving to Alaska in 1999. Since then, she's been exploring the far reaches of the Far North by foot, ski, packraft, and bike. Becky shares her enthusiasm for adventure by teaching wilderness travel and paddling, and played a key role in developing APA’s packrafting curriculum. She plans to continue on the APA Education committee and develop APA initiatives in Alaska.

Certifications & Experience: Swiftwater Rescue Technician, ACA L2 River Canoe, Solo and Tandem Instructor, Wilderness First Responder.

ALASKA chapter CHAIR

Maggie Harings

Maggie studies Pacific salmon and runs a small outdoor photography business. Her love for paddling stems from countless family trips to the Boundary Waters from the age of one. These experiences paved the way for several years spent rafting big water in Idaho and the rest of the mountain west. In 2017, she made the move north to Alaska, bought a well-loved packraft, and now seeks to support those eager to enter the world of Alaska boating by providing welcoming experiences for all abilities and comfort levels on the water.

Certifications & Experience: L4 ACA Swiftwater Rescue, Outdoor Leadership certification, Wilderness First Aid.

ALASKA chapter VICE CHAIR

Patrick Higgins

Patrick works for Turnagain Kayak Adventure Center based out of Hope, Alaska in the summer and in the winter works for Alaska Pacific University and Hilltop Ski Area. Patrick’s life goals are to stay dry while living in a van down by the river! 

Certifications & Experience: ACA L3 Packrafting Instructor Trainer, L4 Whitewater Kayaking Instructor Trainer, L2 Sea Kayak Instructor Trainer, L4 Swift Water Rescue Instructor, L5 Whitewater Kayaking Instructor, L4 Whitewater SUP Instructor, BCU Coach Level 1, Wilderness First Responder.

ALASKA CHAPTER seCRETARY

Levi Hogan

Levi is the owner of Turnagain Kayak, a coach, coffee boss and craftsman. All of his life, Levi has been out enjoying everything that the Alaskan wilderness has to offer. His favorite activities include kayaking the sea and the rivers, mountain biking, ski touring, wilderness camping and spending time with his family.  When he is not on the water, he also volunteers as a firefighter and EMT.

Certifications & Experience: BCU/UKCC Level 2 coach training and assessment, BCU 5* leader training and assessment for coastal kayak, BCU 3* training and assessment for open canoe, ACA L4 Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer, ACA L5 Advanced Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor, ACA L4 Swiftwater Rescue Instructor, ACA L2 SUP Instructor, ACA L4 White Water Kayak Instructor, ACA L3 Packraft Instructor Trainer.

ALASKA CHAPTER MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA

Mollie Foster

Mollie loves to spend her time exploring by human power—packrafting, hiking, biking, and skiing. She co-owns Traverse Alaska, a Denali Park, Alaska-based outdoor adventure company specializing in packrafting, rafting, hiking, backpacking and other custom outdoor activities. Paddling down a river is one of her favorite ways to travel through the rugged Alaskan landscape. She moved to Alaska, fell in love with the Alaskan lifestyle, and now can’t imagine living anywhere else. 

Certifications & Experience: Swiftwater Rescue Training certified, Wilderness First Responder.

ALASKA CHAPTER TREASURER

Jule Harle

Jule is owner of Alaska Packraft School and author of “AK Packraft Guidebook”. She began her love affair with rivers in the Southern Appalachians as a kayaker and raft guide before moving to Alaska in 2007.  She’s been guiding wilderness backpacking, rafting, sea kayaking & packrafting trips throughout AK since 2008.  Jule is  passionate about helping people explore wild places, but especially teaching river paddling, safety, skill development & helping people plan trips.  She lives in Girdwood as a yoga teacher and holistic mental health therapist in the winter, but switches to “guide/instructor mode” in the summer months, running the Alaska Packraft School. 

Certifications & Experience: Swiftwater Rescue Technician certified, ACA L3 Whitewater Kayak Instructor, Wilderness First Responder.

Alaska Packrafting Resources:

Whether you're an Alaskan paddler or planning a trip, the following resources may help you on your packrafting journeys in Alaska.

General Alaska Packrafting Links
Luc Mehl’s website
Denali National Park
Alaska Packrafting Facebook Page 

River Information Resources

The APA forum (forum.packraft.org) features a decade's worth of inspiring trip reports and packrafting expertise.
Fairbanks Paddlers
American Whitewater for Flow and River Information. (AW also works towards access on rivers, and have a team of lawyers who work to preserve access.)

Alaska Weather and Water Conditions
Weather Forecast
Water levels
USGS Water Data
Marine Forecast
WeatherCams

Maps
USGS downloadable or printable maps
NOAA downloadable charts

Alaska River Guide Books
Alaska Atlas and Gazetteer by Delorme
The Alaska River Guide by Karen Jettmar
Alaska Whitewater a Guide to Rivers and Creeks in the Last Frontier by Timmy Johnson
Fast & Cold, A Guide To Alaska Whitewater by Andrew Embick
The Kenai Canoe Trails by Daniel L. Quick
Paddling Alaska: A Guide to the State's Classic Paddling Trips by Dan MacLean

Community Paddling Organizations
Fairbanks Paddlers (Fairbanks/Interior AK)
Knik Canoers and Kayakers Club (Anchorage area / Southcentral AK)The site is migrating to Facebook.

Tips for Alaska
Have questions about traveling in Alaska? Wondering what to do if you see a bear?  Unsure of how to store your food?  These safety videos were produced for Denali National Park visitors but provide helpful trips for traveling across many Alaskan landscapes.