Exit Glacier Stream & Resurrection River

Forums Alaska Rivers Seward and Eastern Kenai Region Exit Glacier Stream & Resurrection River

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    Jule Harle

      SOURCE: The Alaska Packraft Guidebook: Premier Rivers & Creeks in the 49th State (1st ed) Copyright: 2022 by Jule Harle.  Refer to the guidebook for additional info, photos, waypoints or detailed river maps. Author permission required to reproduce, duplicate or transfer following content.

      Difficulty: Upper Exit: IV-, Lower Exit: II, Resurrection River: II
      Length: 9 miles
      Gauge: NWS Resurrection River at Exit Glacier Glacier Bridge gauge https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?gage=resa2&wfo=pafc
      Shuttle: 8 miles
      Put-in: Varies, anywhere on riverbed after “Outwash Plain”

      Takeout: Resurrection Roadhouse

      Character: An easy hike leads you to a scenic glacial run with character that changes as you go downstream.   The Upper Exit stretch has a steep, chunky class III+/IV- section that’s short lived, (you could easily hike back up and session it!) followed by continuous class II before up until the Resurrection River confluence.  Great for mixed parties with various abilities as multiple put-in options exist depending on skill level & whitewater appetite.   Easy bike shuttle on a paved road with minimal traffic. 

      Water Level:  There is usually enough water to make this run go.  11 ft would be pretty low and bony; 11.5 ft more sufficient.  12-13 ft is a medium level; anything over 13 ft begins feeling fast.  The class II sections always remain class II, however the more water, the faster the river moves (duh, haha).  The Upper Exit section should be gauged visually before running; expect higher water in June/July.  

      Hike Description: 1 mile; 20-30 minutes. From Seward, head north on AK 9 for 3 miles; turning left onto Herman Leirer Rd (follow signs to Exit Glacier) Drive 8.5 miles to Exit Glacier trailhead parking lot. 

      From the Exit Glacier trailhead, walk on the paved hiking path, following signs to “Outwash Plain.”  The trail veers left and disappears after arrival to the riverbed.  Head upstream and hike as far up as you care to paddle.

      River Description: 1.5-3 hours; depending on flow.  The Upper section of Exit Glacier Stream is class III at low water- early spring or fall, the water will have a clearer blue color, but class IV- with summer flows from peak glacial melt.  The rapids are continuous, steep and feel “chunky” as moves involve avoiding numerous rocks and charging through or threading around holes.  The action is short lived however, this stretch is only 1000 ft long.  If  it is too much for your taste, you can easily put-in anywhere downstream…and if you like it, you can easily hike back up and do it again!

      From the outwash plain, the water transitions to fast moving class II+ for the next ½ mile and eventually gives way to class II with less gradient.  The volume increases at the Resurrection River confluence; the river begins to braid about 1 ½  miles downstream from here.  Choose the channel with the most water; in early spring or fall when the water is lower you may get “bottomed out.”  At the time of writing, about halfway through the run, the main channel cut through the trees and brush on the right side for less than a mile; be on the lookout for wood and downed trees blocking the river.  

      Resurrection River parallels the road; multiple take outs exist depending how long you want to be on the water.  Easiest & most secure is to leave a vehicle or bike at the Resurrection Roadhouse- bar opens at 4pm!  If taking out at the Roadhouse, be sure not to go further than the red metal bridge that crosses the river. 


        Saturday 6/22/2024: Resurrection river from the resurrection river trail bridge to the resurrection roadhouse bridge. Rivers app gauge read 13.03 ft. Stayed in the left braids until about mile 3, where a far left braid goes into an alder channel with a few river wide sweepers just upstream from a roadside pull-out. Some butt-scooting in the middle channels. Took the far right channel around mile 5, nearing the gravel bar people drive their vehicles onto. All in all, a great float. 2.5ish hours. Somebody has a sauna parked on the gravel bar.

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      Forums Alaska Rivers Seward and Eastern Kenai Region Exit Glacier Stream & Resurrection River