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Kings River Canyon

Considering how many rivers are near Anchorage, there are precious few whitewater runs that locals paddle with any frequency. Six Mile. Willow. Six Mile. Six Mile again. Class V boaters have many more choices, but for intermediate paddlers the options are much more limited. The Kings River, which is no farther than Willow, should be on everyone’s list as a top-tier intermediate whitewater day trip.

The Kings River flows off some of the Talkeetna’s higher peaks, but only has small remnant glaciers. Its water typically runs a stunning teal hue all summer. From the headwaters, it drops through a harrowing incised canyon, then flows over about ten miles of mellow gravel bars. In the “Magic Mile,” it cascades through old moraine, forming Class V rapids even at low flows. Then the river mellows again for about three miles before entering a twin set of canyons.

This brief, riffly section of the Kings is where you put in to run the Class III+-IV+ canyons (difficulty is highly dependent on wa…

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