The Copper River in Alaska - McCarthy River Tours
Alaska Adventure Blog

Navigating the Rapids: Tips for Choosing an Alaska Raft Outfitter

Alaska Outiftting Done Right on the Copper River Alaska

Choosing an Alaska Guide Service/Raft Outfitter

The importance of picking a reputable and experienced Alaska Raft Outfitter cannot be overstated. A reputable provider will have years of experience in the field and have built up a positive reputation for providing outstanding services to its guests. Experience is important because it not only ensures that your trip will be enjoyable but also that they will follow all safety guidelines and standards of operations, reducing any potential risks associated with Alaska adventure.

Experienced outfitters will provide helpful advice on the best activities to engage in during your trip, as well as recommending accommodation and transport options. They are also better equipped to handle any unforeseen problems that may arise while you’re away–such as air taxi cancellations, delays & inclement weather-ensuring that your trip remains stress free throughout.

Furthermore, many reputable providers also offer additional services such as pre-trip planning assistance, which can provide peace of mind when traveling in remote parts of Alaska. For these reasons, it is essential that you do your research before selecting an outfitter, so you can ensure the best experience possible during your travels.

What to look for in an Alaska Raft Outfitter

When comparing different service providers, consider multiple factors. Ratings and reviews can be useful in determining the quality of the services they offer. Customers who have previously used the service write reviews, giving an overall opinion of their experience. Reviews provide more detailed information about a provider and can help you get a better understanding of their services.

You may also want to consider other factors such as pricing, customer service, and any custom features they may offer. Researching each provider thoroughly will allow you to make an informed decision about which one is best suited for your needs.

Outfitter Tour Pricing

Alaska is one place where you shouldn’t go bargain shopping.  You are embarking on an adventure that is going to take you deep into very remote country. Do you want the company that is offering the cheapest experience?  Good outfitters take care of their crew, which means experienced and knowledgeable guides that return year after year, high quality equipment and quality, locally source ingredients for meals. High quality companies are dedicated to sharing the Alaska experience with you.

Outfitters that charge rock-bottom prices usually short change their staff in pay, which means they are turning over large amounts of their crew every year.  Additionally, it means they are not investing in new and quality gear, perhaps not outfitting with drysuits or using floatation devices that were around when the glaciers were still in their advancing phase.  Don’t get us wrong, you don’t have to break the bank with the most expensive tours around, but you should consider the reasons an outfitter appears to be so much cheaper. When you are venturing into a wild country, you want to know your safety and comfort is in expert hands.

Alaska Raft Experience & Safety

We cannot understate experience when looking for a raft outfitter.  You want a reputable company that takes your safety seriously.  Reputable companies have in-depth training programs for new hires with long time guides that bring years of experience traveling through remote terrain. 

Most Alaska rivers are fast, wide, silty and COLD.  With most rivers here originating from glaciers, the water temperatures on many rivers hovers in the mid 30’s.  Even on the warmest day, an unexpected tumble into the river can get serious fast without the right equipment.  We often get asked, do we need to wear a drysuit?  We like to think of this particular piece of safety equipment like a seat belt. Most times you won’t need it, but when you do, it can save your life!

Raft Outfitter Tour Customization

Customization comes in many forms.  Do you want a wholly private and personal experience?  You will need to find an outfitter that will offer an experience that can be done with just your party.  The price will differ from their published group rate, but your trip will be tailored to your crew.  Other ways that outfitters offer customization that isn’t necessarily a private trip include locally sourced foods and gear, knowledgeable office staff that aid in every aspect of planning your trip and personalization for life moments that you may be celebrating on your trip.

Amenities & Inclusions

When researching Alaska Outfitters, it is important to consider the amenities that they can provide outside of your raft trip.  Planning and going on an Alaska vacation can be a time-consuming and expensive investment.  Look for an outfitter that can help you package certain aspects of your trip, such as lodging, transportation and/or meals.  

McCarthy River Tours works with our sister company, Kennicott River Lodge, to accommodate our adventure guests at the best price.  Ask about “weekender” packages that include day Rafting/Kayaking and Glacier Hiking tours.  If you are taking part in a Multi Day Trip, our pre-trip orientation is held at the Lodge, making your McCarthy logistics as easy as pie.  


Now is the time to research and find the best possible Alaska raft outfitter for your next trip. With so many great companies, there are plenty of options to choose from. Look into what type of experience each outfitter provides, including amenities, type of rafting trips, safety record and customer service, and other considerations such as the size of groups they take and price range. Ask for reviews from previous customers or visit their official site to get an overview of their services. Do your research, compare prices and packages and make sure you get the most out of your trip! Ultimately, selecting an outfitter that meets all your criteria will ensure a successful adventure on the beautiful rivers of Alaska.