On a hot summer day, there may be no better way to experience Fairbanks than by floating the Chena River through town. Grab a cooler, rent a boat, don your life jacket and relax for the afternoon.
The Chena River is a meandering Class I river, but inexperienced boaters should keep an eye out for log jams and floating trees. The river is relatively slow moving, so these drifters are easily avoided when spotted in time.
There are several spots to put in and take out depending on the desired length of your float. A personal favorite is to begin at Graehl Park in downtown Fairbanks near Pro Music and take out at Pioneer Park, several miles downriver.
For those more adventurous, a longer float can bring boaters to the popular Boatel Bar along the river a few miles past Pioneer Park.
After a cold drink for adults 21 and over, boaters can continue farther downriver to the historic Pump House Restaurant. This is the perfect place to take out and have dinner on the deck.
A paddle from Pioneer Park to the Pump House takes most boaters about two hours. A float from Graehl Park to the Pump House will likely take floaters a full afternoon. Best to start around noon in order to afford maximum relaxation throughout the afternoon.
By law, all boaters are required to have personal floatation devices for every person on board. Minors are required to wear personal flotation devices at all times.
Visitors who don’t have boats of their own have a number of options for rentals.
Don’t forget to pack snacks and water.
Trax Outdoor Center
For those interested in a bit more of a unique experience, Trax Outdoor Center rents stand-up paddleboards. The shop is located at 310 Birch Hill Road and can be reached by phone at 907-374-9600.
Interested paddlers can rent paddleboards for $45 for three hours; $75 for six hours; $100 for 24 hours; and $150 for three days.
Paddleboard delivery is available for a $25 fee. Rentals of four or more paddleboards can be delivered for free.
Trax Outdoor Center is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Canoe Alaska is a full-service paddlesports rental shop located at 1101 Peger Road at the Pioneer Park dock. The shop is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals range from $55-65 per day, $80-$100 for 24 hours, weekend rentals range from $150-$200 and rentals for the full week range from $250-$300.
Canoe Alaska also offers shuttle services for those wishing to begin floating from somewhere other than Pioneer Park.
Canoe Alaska can be reached at 907-457-2453 or at canoealaska.com.