Boating in Fairbanks
For relaxing boating in or near Fairbanks, use Chena River access points at Nordale Road east of the city, at the Cushman and Wendell Street bridges near downtown, in Pioneer Park above the Peger River Bridge, at the state campground, and at the University Avenue Bridge.
The Tanana River, with a current that is fast and often shallow, is ideally suited for riverboats. On this river and others in the Yukon River drainage, Alaskans use long, wide, flat-bottom boats powered by one or two large outboard engines. The boats include a lift to raise the engine a few inches, allowing passage through the shallows; lately, it’s more common just to get a jet boat, which doesn’t have a propeller, and so can go into much shallower waters. Arrangements for riverboat charters can be made in almost any river community. Ask at the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tours and Outfitters
Alaska Outdoor Rentals and Guides. This outfit rents gear and arranges pick-ups and drop-offs for the Class I waters of the lower Chena River (the only real challenge for canoeists on the lower river is watching out for powerboats), as well as other local rivers. The company offers private paddling lessons, from basics to self- and assisted-rescue techniques. Pioneer Park Boat Dock, 1101 Peger Rd., along Chena River, Fairbanks, AK, 99708. 907/457–2453. www.2paddle1.com. From $41 for 3-hr canoe rental.
Riverboat Discovery. The city's riverboat history and the Interior's cultural heritage are relived each summer aboard the Riverboat Discovery, a three-hour narrated trip by stern-wheeler along the Chena and Tanana rivers to a rustic Native village on the Tanana. The cruise provides a glimpse of the lifestyle of the dog mushers, subsistence fishermen, traders, and Native Alaskans who populate the Yukon River drainage. Sights along the way include operating fish wheels, a bush airfield, floatplanes, a smokehouse and cache, log cabins, and dog kennels once tended by the late Susan Butcher, the first person to win the Iditarod four times. The Binkley family, with four generations of river pilots, has run the great rivers of the north for more than a century. 1975 Discovery Dr., Fairbanks, AK, 99709. 907/479–6673 or 866/479–6673. www.riverboatdiscovery.com. $59.95. Mid-May–mid-Sept., daily 9 and 2.
Sternwheeler Tanana Chief. The sternwheeler sails on nightly dinner cruises (6:30 pm) on the Chena River aboard the stern-wheeler Tanana Chief, a replica of the riverboats that once plied Interior rivers. Daytime sightseeing and other cruises also take place. 1020 Hoselton Rd., Fairbanks, AK, 99709. 907/450–0768 or 888/393–6224. www.tananachiefak.com. Dinner cruise $54.95; day cruises (no food) $24.95.
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