Gulkana River

Gulkana River Information

Difficulty: Class I-II

Avgerage Gradient: 15 fpm

Description: The Gulkana River is a slow and meandering class II river with one technical Class III rapid. The river is slow, flowing at about 3 mph. It travels around many bends for roughly 80 miles as it makes its way to the Copper River. The water is clear on the Gulkana River and it's blue quality makes it unique. The majority of rivers in the area are glacially fed but the Gulkana River is not. Rain can cause a rapid rise in water levels on the Gulkana  impacting water clarity and how well it fishes.


Location: The Gulkana River is the major northern tributary to the Copper River.  The Gulkana River has 3 major branches; the west fork, the mainstem and the north branch. The mainstem flows southerly from its outlet in Paxson Lake to the confluence with the Copper River. The Gulkana River is a non-glacial tributary to the Copper River. The Gulkana River has an appealing uniqueness because it is a "blue" water river in the land of glacial silt and muddy water.

Raft the "Wild & Scenic" Gulkana River with Salmon Grove

Salmon Grove offers a wide variety of Gulkana River rafting trips that include half day river rafting, full day river rafting and the famous multi-day "wild & scenic" stretch of river. Enjoy the Gulkana River on one our fully guided excursions.

Call (907) 822-5822

Gulkana River Fishing Season

The Gulkana River river offers ideal spawning grounds for Copper River king and Copper River red salmon. Every year the river comes to life as the massive salmon migration floods its waters. Depending on the time of your visit it may be possible to fish the Gulkana for red salmon, king salmon, arctic grayling and rainbow trout. The Gulkana river is home to the largest native rainbow trout population in the northern hemishere. The largest rainbow trout in the river patiently wait above and below Gulkana Canyon Falls to feast on salmon eggs.  The Gulkana is unlike any other Copper River tributary due to its lake origins that give it clear water. It is the most beautiful and scenic with lots of wildlife to see. The Gulkana River should be on your to-do list of Alaska fishing trips.The first salmon to arrive on the Gulkana are the king (chinook) salmon. The early run king salmon are among some of the best king salmon I have ever tasted. Almost every fish is chrome with bright orange fillets! The early June run of king salmon can remain strong until its closure by The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on July 19.Many of the king salmon that enter the system spawn in the river's remote branches, the streams that feed them and the deep slow pools of the main stem itself. A multi day trip is the best way to access these remote streams.  Experience the beauty of camping in the Alaska wilderness while pursuing the king salmon of a lifetime.A small number of kings spawn in the lower river and can be observed doing so during our late season red salmon trips.The red salmon run that returns to the Gulkana every summer is very strong. There is a state hatchery operated by Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation (PWSAC) that has helped ensure a fairly predictable red return during the month of August. The peak dates typically fall sometime in mid-August. Some years we see red salmon still running strong into the first weeks of September

Contact Us

Drop us a line!

Better yet, see us in person! We welcome last minute travellers and walk-in's!

We are here to answer your fishing questions on and off the river. Have a question, need advice or the daily fishing report? Fill out the form below or call (907) 822-5822 to speak with one of our expert Copper River salmon fishing guides. We offer fishing and rafting trips on the Klutina River, Gulkana River and Tonsina River from June - September

Salmon Grove

100 Old Richardson Highway, Copper Center, Alaska 99573, United States

Call (907) 822-5822 to book a trip