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Klutina River, Alaska

River Information

Difficulty: Class III+
Gradient:25 FPM

Flood Categories (in feet)
Moderate Flood Stage:15
Flood Stage:14
Action Stage:12.5

View the current water by following the link below

The word Klutina literally means “fast water” in the Athabaskan native language. The Klutina River is indeed a very fast river flowing up to 14 mph. In addition to the swift current, the Klutina has intermittent class III rapids and should only be run by experienced boaters. The lower Klutina River has abundant fishing opportunities that are foot accessible from the parking areas next to the Klutina River highway bridges. A boat is required to access the remote areas of the upper Klutina River where steep banks and erosion limit walk-in access. 

About the Klutina River

The Klutina River is a salmon spawning tributary of the Copper River. The blue-green river originates in the snowy Chugach Mountains at the Klutina Glacier where the water from snow and ice drains down into Klutina Lake. The river flows easterly from its outlet at Klutina Lake into the Copper River. The river passes through the historic town of Copper Center right before its confluence with the Copper River. The river is surrounded by steep banks where it is possible to view eagles and brown bears. During the early season, the canyon walls are filled with wildflowers including the lovely tundra rose. You will not see a single man-made structure along the river bank from the point of your put in until you return to the Richardson Highway area.   

Waters flowing out of Klutina Lake at the outlet are deep and smooth. The river quickly braids and when the braids come back together you can expect the start of the rapids. The Klutina River has intermittent class III rapids starting from river mile 19 continuing all the way down to the confluence with the Copper River. Water levels can change daily with weather conditions, rain, glacier melt, and freezing temperatures.  

One unique characteristic of glacial rivers like the Klutina is the color of the water. Glacial silt starts to settle in the lake at its headwaters and the water flows a beautiful blue-green color. The dynamic Alaskan landscape and weather conditions constantly transform the river’s color and volume. Run-off from erosion, mudslides, permafrost melt or rain can often cause the river’s clarity to decrease every mile from the lake down. The river can be clear on the upper miles and mud-brown by the campgrounds. Our guides stay up to date on which factors are contributing to turbid water conditions and we will often fish the upper river to find clear water.

Klutina River Salmon Fishing Season

King Salmon Season

July 1 – August 10‚Äč

The Klutina River king salmon run accounts for a large number of kings that enter the watershed. The Klutina River king salmon arrive in early June and continue to run until early August.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulates the king salmon fishing season on the Klutina River and Klutina River king salmon fishing season is open July 1 – August 10.

The majority of the king salmon return during the month of July. Unlike red salmon, king salmon can be mainstream spawners. They are able to spawn in slack water, deep slow holes and eddies along the entire river. The peak fishing dates for king salmon on the Klutina River are July 10 – August 10

Red Salmon Season

June – August

The Klutina River is a great place to fish for Copper River Red Salmon. The large fish counts and long run times can make the Klutina River a red salmon fishing paradise.  The reds can show up as early as the end of May and run steadily all the way into the beginning of September. Other years, we don’t see many reds in August and the run seems to peak in July. Variation in the exact run timing can be attributed to various environmental factors including temperature, river ice, snow melt, water levels and the exact time of spring break up. The Copper River sockeye salmon that return to the Klutina River travel quickly upstream to the clear streams of the Klutina Lake to their spawning beds. Give us a call for the daily fishing report.    


The early explorers in the area who first touched Alaskan land, 100 miles south of the Klutina River, at the coastal Port of Valdez, found a passage through the glaciated mountains that lead to the Klutina Lake. From the Klutina Lake, the journey down the river was often harsh eventually leading to many small camps and even a post office along the river.

At the end summer in the late 1800’s, the first group of pioneers to successfully navigate down the Klutina River made it to the Klutina/Copper River confluence. Winter was about to set in and the pioneers knew that they could not travel any further and decided to stay until spring allowed easier travel. Once the cold started to set in and resources became limited, many of the pioneers started to die of scurvy. Eventually, the survivors made contact with the indigenous people, who showed them what to eat, saving many lives.

The pioneers who survived the winter of 1898 were the first non-native settlers in the area, they established the town, Copper Center. Today you can find remains of the early pioneer camps, trails and even lost belongings all along the river if you look close.  

Klutina River Fishing Trips & Overnight Charters

1/2 Day Klutina River Fishing 

4-5 Hours

Join our half-day sport fishing trip on the lower Klutina River to catch red salmon. This trip starts with a 5 mile van ride on the 4X4 Klutina Lake Road to the boat launch. We will float downstream  and stop to fish. All of the fishing takes place from the shore.  This trip targets Copper River Sockeye (red) salmon and allows about 3-4 hours of rod and reel time.

From: $200

Full Day Klutina River Fishing

8-10 Hours

The full day Klutina River is our most popular trip and should not be missed! The full day trip starts with a 4X4 van ride 14-23 miles up the Klutina Lake Road (launch point depends on conditions) From 14 mile we will start floating down the river and stopping at the good salmon fishing area. All of the fishing takes place from the bank. This trip allows around 6 hours of rod and reel time. 

From: $300

Klutina River Overnight Charter

30 Hours

Run the entire Klutina River on our overnight fishing charter. This trip maximizes your rod and reel time. Start up high by the Klutina Lake and fish for Dolly Varden and rainbow trout. As we work our way downstream we will spend the night at a king salmon fishing area. On the second day we will continue to work our way downstream and target red salmon. 

From: $800