About Us – Your Trusted Alaska Wilderness Guides
McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters was founded in 2010 in the spirit of exploring the great rivers located in Wrangell St. Elias National Park. With over 13 million acres of federally protected land, Wrangell St. Elias is the largest park in the United States. Encompassing many of the highest mountain peaks in North America, the largest concentration of glaciers outside of Antarctica and thousands of pristine, premier rivers to raft, the wildness of this place is uncomparable.
Our Founder, Nik Merlino, who has over 25 years of personal experience in the Kennicott Valley and 15 years of rafting experience around the globe, set out to create a raft company that would provide you with an unforgettable Alaskan experience. Unlike other companies that provide a “cookie cutter” vacation, McCarthy River Tours believes that smaller is better! With smaller guide to client ratios and individually planned menus and trip itineraries for our guests, we want you to feel immersed not just in the sheer beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, we want you to feel immersed in the culture that is the people of Alaska as well.
The three main tenets of our raft trips are Safety, Comfort and Adventure. We are proud to be the first Alaska rafting company in Wrangell St. Elias National Park to outfit all of our guests with drysuits for their rafting trip. We boat on rivers that originate from glaciers and were frozen as ice sometimes not 48 hours before we raft on them, the temperature of the water can hover in the mid-30’s. A dry-suit not only supplies a much needed barrier from the cold water in an emergency situation, but it turns an average day on the river from avoiding every possible splash that might run down the front of your rain gear into a day cooling off in the big waves on a hot day and keeping warm while your insulating layers are safely dry on a rainy day. While drysuits supply a level of safety that is incomparable to any other form of river clothing, they also provide a level of comfort, being the best full body Mosquito barrier in the Last Frontier! All of our guides are also extensively trained in River Rescue and Wilderness medicine and are prepared for any situation that may arise on a trip.
In consideration of our guests comfort, we have gone to long lengths to assure that our gear and our Multi-Day food is of the best quality. Much of our gear has been crafted by us in our shop to the specifications of our exact needs. Gear that we cannot build, such as life jackets, drysuits, and boats are purchased from respected leaders in the rafting industry. We understand that good quality gear can make a huge difference to the comfort of a trip and all of our gear is maintained to stay in tip top form.
While it is true that gear can provide higher level of comfort on a trip, we also know that food is equally as important. It is the fuel that keeps your furnace going, it helps create the internal heat that keeps you warm on a cold day, it gives you the extra energy to be able to paddle through the next set of rapids! As you can see, we take our river food seriously! On any of our multi-day raft trips, you can expect to be blown away by a series of culinary masterpieces unheard of in a wilderness setting; Grilled Salmon, fresh baked brownies, eggs benedict, Reindeer Sausages, grilled pizza(!), and so much more awaits the hungry paddler at camp! We do not use freeze dried food, just because you are in the wilderness, does not mean that you have to eat a backpackers meal! We have forged relationships with local & statewide farmers to be able to supply our trips with a myriad of locally produced meats and vegetables, in this way your trip does not just support one Alaskan business, but a larger economic swath of Alaskans.
In Alaska, Adventure is the name of the game! With more wilderness than any other state in the America, an Alaska raft trip can create memories for a lifetime. We offer trips for all skill levels, including some of the finest scenic rivers and undiscovered whitewater stretches in the world. We are excited to help you with your Alaska plans and our knowledgeable and friendly staff are happy to help you with each step of your travel planning process. Please contact us at any time to discuss your Alaska Raft Trip or any other parts of your Alaska adventure.
We look forward to boating with you soon!