The rivers in and around Fairbanks are best seen by floating slowly along in a canoe. Paddling is as popular as hiking around here. There are several businesses that rent canoes and provide drop-off and pickup service along the area's waterways.

The Chena River is slow and meandering as it flows through Fairbanks, and several restaurants on the bank cater to boaters. Farther upriver, the canoeing passes wilder shores, and near the headwaters becomes more challenging. For beginners, try the wilderness section from the Chena Lake Recreation Area downstream. It's 12 to 16 hours from there all the way into town, or you can take out at one of the roads crossing the river along the way. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (tel. 907/488-2748) produces the Chena River Float Guide, with put-in and take-out points and float times, available at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center.

For something a bit more challenging but still manageable for most paddlers with some experience, the clear, class I water of the Chatanika River is perfect for day trips or relaxed expeditions of a week or more, if you know how to handle river hazards such as sweepers and snags that show up on any Alaska stream. Alaska State Parks produces a brochure covering the float from the Upper Chatanika River Campground, at mile 39 of the Steese Highway, to a boat launch on the Elliott Highway (get it at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center). Low water and logjams requiring portages can slow down the trip so that it takes a long day; in better conditions, expert canoeists can do it in a few hours.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.