Popular with the locals, this spot is renown for its quality sportfishing
Approximately 44 miles southeast of Fairbanks along the Richardson Highway is the Salcha River State Recreation Site, a popular weekend getaway for residents of both Fairbanks and Delta Junction.
Archaeological sites indicate that several 19th century village sites of Athabascan Indians were located along the Tanana River, and were likely abandoned by the late 1800s. With the onset of the Fairbank’s gold rush of the late 1800s, prospectors utilized the Salcha River in the summer months, while a roadhouse, store and military telegraph office was established at the mouth of the river. Today the southern boundary of the Salcha River watershed makes up part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
The Salcha River is a fast and clear 125-mile tributary of the Tanana River. Accessible by boat or on foot from the road, the river is a popular sportfishing destination due to its rich runs of salmon, northern pike and Arctic grayling. The river’s surroundings are fairly dense forest, and moose and caribou can be found in the area.
In the summer, the 61-acre recreation site provides anglers access to the Salcha River, which is fished for king, chum and coho salmon as well as Arctic grayling, sheefish and northern pike. Other popular activities include camping, boating and picnicking. Winter activities include snowmobiling up or down the river (when frozen) and cross-country skiing.
Salcha River has a campground along with a picnic area, toilets and drinking water. Its boat launch is popular and well used throughout the summer. The recreation site also has a public-use cabin that is furnished with a wood stove, table, seats and bunks that sleep three. The Salcha River Cabin is used by volunteers in the summer and is not available to the public for rent from May through September 30. Until the snow gets too deep, you can drive a car right up to the cabin; after that, it’s a 400-yard hike in on snowshoes.
Cabin furnishings include plywood sleeping platforms, a kitchen counter, shelves, table and benches, wood stove, fire extinguisher, and an outdoor latrine. Firewood is not provided and can be hard to find at some cabins, so gather dead and down wood on your way in. For water, renters need to melt snow in the winter, or use the river. Please be sure to purify the water.
There is a fee for the boat launch and a nightly fee for the campground and public-use cabin, which can be reserved online through the parks reservation system (www.dnr.alaska.gov/parks/cabins).
Salcha River State Recreation Site is accessible by road at Mile 323.3 of the Richardson Highway. For more information contact the Alaska State Parks office (907-451-2695; www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/salcha.htm) in Fairbanks.