Gulkana Wild and Scenic River, Alaska
The Gulkana River begins in the Alaska Range near Summit Lake and flows south into the Copper River. The three forks (including Middle Fork and West Fork) comprise the largest clearwater river system in the Copper River Basin. The three forks of the Gulkana flow through the rolling valleys and low ridges of an upland spruce-dominated forest, rich with lakes and ponds. Several hundred lakes and ponds are scattered throughout the spruce-dominated forest of the Gulkana River watershed, providing abundant nesting areas for trumpeter swans and waterfowl.
Closely flanked by low, rolling hills, with the Wrangell Mountains and Alaska Range in the background, the Gulkana offers high-quality scenic vistas. It offers viewers and photographers opportunities to observe and photograph many aspects of nature—wildflowers, a variety of birds and animals are all present in abundance.
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides three levels of river classification: wild, scenic, and recreational.
Wild rivers are free of dams, generally inaccessible except by trail, and represent vestiges of primitive America.
Scenic rivers are free of dams, with shorelines or watersheds that are still largely primitive and shorelines that are largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
Recreational rivers are readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have been dammed in the past.