Kayak among massive icebergs at Glacial Kennicott Lake

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Go packrafting at Kennicott Glacial Lake and meander around the floating iceberg to the face of the glacier.

Kayaking Columbia Glacier Prince William Sound Alaska


Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is by far the largest national park in the United States. It offers much of the quintessential Alaskan backcountry adventure opportunities that people associate with Alaska. One of the many outdoor adventure activities visitors can enjoy in the park is kayaking among the icebergs of Kennicott Glacier Lake.


McCarthy’s gateway city is known as the “Packrafting Capital of the World”. It is one of the few places where visitors can leisurely kayak around floating glaciers. At Kennicott Glacier Lake, it’s a leisurely excursion that almost anyone can enjoy. These tours travel all the way to the terminus of Kennicott Glacier (and some even enter).

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What to know about the accessible Kennicott Glacier

The Kennicott Glacier is a magnificent 27-mile-long glacier that descends from Mount Blackburn and reaches its terminus at the head of the Kennicott River. It is close to the small Alaskan town of McCarthy as well as the ghost town of Kennecott.

The ghost town, Kennecott, is an abandoned mining camp next to the Kennicott Glacier. Guided tours are offered of the ghost town.

  • Adjacent attraction: Kennecott Ghost Town

The glacier was named in 1899 and is one of approximately 3,120 glaciers in the encompassing Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Kennicott Glacier is one of the most prominent and visible of Alaska’s many large glaciers (mainly because it’s fortunately close to a road – unlike most glaciers in the state).

Like many other glaciers, it is retreating with climate change.

The lake at the end of the Kennecott Glacier terminus is teeming with icebergs. It is one of the most popular and accessible places in the world for packrafting and does not require people with special experience or physical condition.

Related: Forget Norway, Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park Has Even More Beautiful Fjords

Half-Day Kennicott Glacial Lake Kayak Tour

One of the best things to do in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is to take an inflatable kayak tour on Kennicott Glacier Lake. This is the only excursion considered “casual” offered by McCarthy River Tours. Visitors can leisurely paddle their inflatable kayaks through icebergs and around ice-lined channels at the terminal end of Kennicott Glacier.

The tour offers spectacular views of the Kennicott Valley. Visitors can walk along the rocky surface of the glacier, listen to the silent creaking and tumbling of glaciers, and maybe even spot an Alaskan bear or other wildlife.

The tour is led by an expert guide who provides both an interpretive tour and expert paddling instruction for beginners.

  • Difficulty level: Relaxed:
  • Season: June 6 to August 31:
  • Time: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Age restriction: 8+

The tour is only available in summer – so the season is over and you have to plan for the next season already.

The tour includes a dry suit, helmet, river shoes and an expert guide.

Cost (guide/person ratio):

  • 1:1/$420
  • 2:1/$225
  • 3:1/$165
  • 4+:1/$125

Enjoy the breathtaking experience of paddling among icebergs and getting closer to the face of the glacier.

Related: Do you like kayaking? Then the Channel Islands National Park is the place for you

Consider an alternative packraft tour on Glacier Lake

McCarthy River Tours isn’t the only tour operator offering rafting trips in Kennecott Glacier Lake Park. Another option is Kennecott Wilderness Guides; they offer a similar packrafting experience on the lake.

Circle the icebergs and explore the edge of the glacier in your personal ultralight packraft.

  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy-Medium
  • When: 10:00 a.m.

The tour is well-suited for people looking for a little adventure that combines paddling their personal watercraft among icebergs with a unique Alaskan location.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the holy grail of wilderness rafting

Kennecott Wilderness Guides and McCarthy River Tours offer many other kayaking tours of Alaska’s glacial lakes, cascading rivers, and even remote fly-in locations in the Alaskan wilderness.

They offer half-day and full-day tours, as well as multi-day Alaskan wilderness adventure tours. Experience the thrill of camping in the Alaskan wilderness while rafting down wild backcountry rivers.

Multi-day white-water rafting trips are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the unspoiled wilderness of Alaska and explore some of the wildest land in North America. Find out why Alaska remains America’s last frontier (until they step into space).

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