The Alsek River flows into the Gulf of Alaska at Dry Bay, close to the northern boundary of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, about 162 miles (261 km) northwest of Juneau and 50 miles (81 km) southeast of Yakutat, Alaska. The river starts at the confluence of the Dezadeash River and Kaskawulsh River in Kluane National Park and Reserve in the Yukon, then flows south into British Columbia where it joins with the Tatshenshini River in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park.
The upper river was used as a trade route by First Nations, and over the centuries, numerous indigenous peoples lived in this area, including the Tlingit and Southern Tutchone who built fishing villages along the rivers. The eastern edge of the park follows an ancient trade route used by the Chilkat to barter with the Tutchone. In about 1897, Jack Dalton established a trading post near the location where the present-day Tatshenshini begins to flow westward. This trading post flourished during the Klondike Gold Rush, and today, the site of Dalton’s trading post is a popular location for salmon fishermen, and as a launch point for rafting trips.
In 1991, Tatshenshini International was established to link the top 50 conservation organizations in North America with a common goal to protect this area. In combination with the adjoining national parks, this would complete the protection of the world’s largest international park complex. In 1994, the Kluane-Wrangell-St. Elias-Glacier Bay-Tatshenshini-Alsek transfrontier park system comprising Kluane, Wrangell-St Elias, Glacier Bay, and Tatshenshini-Alsek parks, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the spectacular glacier and icefield landscapes, in addition to the importance of its habitat for grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep, and glacier bears, an extremely rare blue-grey color phase of the black bear. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Alsek River and Dry Bay here: