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“First timers on the Canyon Run”

Denali Outdoor Center
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Canyon Run Whitewater Rafting in Denali National Park
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Owner description: Denali Outdoor Center (D.O.C.) is a full-service outfitter offering whitewater rafting, mild-water float trips, kayaking, canoeing and mountain biking adventures on the boundary of Denali National Park, Alaska. We also offer lakeside nightly cabin rentals and camping at our premier location in Healy, Alaska on the shore of Otto Lake.For convenience, we have 2 office locations, one at Denali Park and the other in Healy, just 10 minutes north of the park entrance. We also provide free shuttle service to and from all local lodging, AKRR Depot, Denali Park Visitor Center and the Wilderness Access Center.Our operating season is from mid-May to mid-September and we are open 7 days from 7:00am to 10:00pm. Our winter hours are M-F 9:00am to 5:00pm Alaska Time.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Reviewed September 3, 2012

My daughter and I both "virgin" at this so we were hesitant, specially me, I dont swim. We did the canyon ride, where the guide did all the paddling, we just sat down and enjoyed the waves and the scenery. We were in place at 2pm and we were back in the car at 5.

They suited us up with the dry suit,not the best looking, but kept me dry. Wear warm clothing as you will put the dry suit on OVER your own clothes. Unfortunately even with 2 pairs of socks, my daughter had a hole on one of her foot so her left foot froze,,,yes bring DISHWATER gloves!!! You'll thank me for it.

The staff briefed us, IN THE EVENT, that we fall overboard. After the safety briefing I felt comfortable and you'll see your bus driver with the rope at every rapid spots. It's almost looking for Waldo.

We rode through 4 or 5 rapids, Chicago, our guide explained that due to low water, the rapids weren't as violent or as tumultuous as I thought. So it was slightly dissapointing. After each rapids, there was a calm and it would pick up again. Photo op was at the first rapid and they captured great pictures...I ended up buying them all.

Pros-Great staff interaction,helpful friendly. Offered Military discount.
Cons-Disorganized in meeting up with the other rafters. Waited longer due to their initial "potty break", Not enough rapid thought, no fault to the company...it's mother's nature doing :-)

Tips--Bring Latex gloves--water is 36 degrees, waterproof camera during the smooth ride, bring money for the hot chocolate, wooly socks over your everyday socks. Go end of Jun early July when snow is really melting. And if you can ride up FRONT

1  Thank dunkindo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bill O, Owner at Denali Outdoor Center, responded to this reviewResponded September 4, 2012

Hi and thank you for writing a review. It sounds like you enjoyed your experience for the most part but would have preferred bigger rapids. Of course, the Nenana River is a free-flowing river, not damn-controlled, which means we have different water levels almost daily. The river is quite low at this time but a bit of rain can change that quickly. I would recommend trying the paddle raft next time since they are smaller rafts and make the rapids seem a bit more exciting even at lower water levels. Latex gloves can be a good idea, especially for the "oar raft," but generally we do not recommend them for paddling. Gloves can make your hands more tired from having to grip harder onto the paddle. I'm glad you liked the photos which usually is a good sign that you enjoyed your trip. Thanks again for rafting with us and posting this review. We greatly appreaciate feedback from our guests.

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223 - 227 of 291 reviews

Reviewed August 18, 2012

The DEC is by far one of the best organizations around. They are a bit hard to find. They offer a wide variety of programs almost year round for the Denali community and visitors. Ranging from Music to science and history talks the DEC is exactly what it says an education center!

Thank Sami K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2012

I went rafting with Denali Raft last week and had a ball! It was really my first time rafting so I did the Canyon Run Oar Trip. Our guide, Jon, was great and unbelievably informative about the area. I highly recommend!

Thank Lisa G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Our experience was exceptional. From the booking, which we did months before, to the pick up at our lodge, to the outfitting, to the instructions, to the expert guides, our family of 5 had a memorable day on the Nenana River. My husband and I, along with our boys (20, 18, 13) chose the kayaking tour. We each had our own inflatable kayak to paddle down the 9 mile stretch of the river, which included class 2 and easy 3 rapids. With the expert guidance of our guides Spencer and Louise, we were safe and well cared for and learned much about kayaking a river and about the environment. Our group totalled 10, and when we came upon a certain area of the river, Spencer taught us how to "surf" which involved facing the kayak upstream in a "hole" and paddling hard which keeps you in the surf. Our boys, who are all very active, thought this was one of the coolest experiences they ever had, even with a couple of capsizings. An added bonus was spotting a caribou on the banks of the river, something that our guides say is very rare. We highly recommend Denali Outdoor Center to the outdoor enthusiast. An adventure like none other.

1  Thank 1122Cheryl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2012

We had a tour scheduled today for rafting. I called this morning to confirm because I wanted to make sure that everything was on schedule and we would get to use all our precious time in Denali as wisely as possible. The woman I spoke to on the phone confirmed my noon ride. When I arrived I was told that there were not enough people signed up and so the ride was canceled. We had the choice of waiting til 2 pm when "maybe" they would run a raft or coming back in the evening. We could also take a different noon tour - one that did not involve actually paddling. I was really shocked and let the man at the desk know I had called this morning to confirm so that just such a thing would not happen. He was completely unapologetic and told me that was just the way it was - they didnt tell me it was canceled in case someone else signed up last minute. So they have a policy of being fine with wasting my time. I said that we had a contract and I expected that a business so large and well regarded should have a way of dealing with this. Perhaps send two guides (since you cannot row with just two guests and a guide) perhaps have a smaller raft for just these cases. I am not sure what the answer is but I am sure there is an answer if the company really wanted to be able to live up to their promises. When I brought up the fact that if I had canceled last minute I would still be charged he said the the rules did not apply to the company- just the customers. Throuh the whole conversation he was completely unapologetic and said he could not be responsible for this - as if it were bad weather or something that was actually not under his control. I dont think it is at all too much to ask to have a contingency plan in place in case not enough people sign up or in case someone cancels. At the very least if a customer calls that morning to confirm they should be honest about the fact that they are planning to cancel the trip - that was really the worst part for me. He then told me "with your attitude we dont want you as a customer anyway." I was shocked that expecting them to give me some notice of the cancelation or making arrangements to make the trip work is an "attitude". I am waiting for a refund and lost half a day at Denali dealing with this. Sad.

6  Thank JenBarnett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bill O, Owner at Denali Outdoor Center, responded to this reviewResponded August 13, 2012

Apparently, we have encountered a serious case of mis-communication, but we sincerely apologize for this unfortunate situation. To be clear, the tour was not cancelled, but we do require a minimum of 4 people in order to have enough power to navigate a paddle raft. The first section of river on the "Nenana Half-day" trip is the mild-water section, also known as the "Scenic Wilderness" trip. For those who sign-up for just the Scenic Wilderness portion, we only offer the oar raft, while we do offer a half-day paddle trip. So, there was certainly an opportunity to go rafting, on the same stretch of river, but in an oar raft for the first half and not a paddle raft.

Unfortunately, this customer chose not to join the oar raft trip for the first portion, since there were 2 rafts going out. As well, since this is our peak season, it turned out that we had a last minute addition to the half-day trip, which turned out to be 4 paddlers. So, if this customer would have opted to oar the first half of her trip and paddle the second half on the actual whitewater portion, she would have ended up paddling the entire trip and doing exactly what she had originally planned.

We are not sure of the actual exchange with our employee at the desk in our Canyon Office since this is a case of hearsay from both parties. Our employee assures us he did his best to calm the customer down and offer as many options to resolve the situation, as he felt possible. When he did contact management, after the customer had left the office extremely upset, we attempted to contact the customer in order to make additional efforts to resolve the matter. The customer never returned our calls and voice mails. We strongly urged our office staff to immediately call management if they ever encounter such a difficult circumstance in the future.

We hope that our other reviews speak for themselves and demonstrate our continued effort to satisfy our customers with the best possible customer service. In gerneral, we make every effort to accommodate the desires of our patrons, but unfortunately we just can't physically operate a paddle raft with only 2 guests.

Of course, we fully refunded this customer and even offered a free paddle rafting trip on our 6:30pm departure. We sincerely apologize for the unfortunate situation that occurred.

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