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 from log jams and floating trees throughout. 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 down river.
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 further down river 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.
Visitors who don’t have boats of their own have a number of options for rentals.
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 paddle boards for $45 for 24 hours; and $150 for three days.
Trax Outdoor Center is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed on Sundays.
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. Tuesday through Sunday.
Canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals start at $25 per day, $35 for 24 hours, weekend rentals start at $60 and rentals for the full week start at $100. They offer several popular float trips, as well. They also rent bicycles, including fat-tired bikes.
Shuttle services are not included in the rental prices, due to social distancing. Canoe Alaska can be reached at 907-457-2453 or at canoealaska.com.
By law, all boaters are required to have personal flotation devices for every person on board. Minors are required to wear personal flotation devices at all times.
Don’t forget to pack snacks and water. Happy floating!