Clearwater State Recreation Site, sitting along a beautiful tributary of the Tanana, is a popular stopover for Alaskan Highway Travelers, but fantastic fishing, boating and wildlife viewing activities make it a destination in its own right.
Clearwater's campground offers easy access to the Delta Clearwater River, a gentle, crystal-clear waterway that supports rich populations of arctic greyling and salmon. The river, which flows into the Tanana river, is also very popular among canoers and rafters, who can float the placid waters and camp along the wild banks. Opportunities to see big game species, such as brown bear, moose, Dall sheep and more, abound, and migratory waterfowl are a common sight around the park as well. Though the park has a remote feel to it, it is conveniently located near the town of Delta Junction, the terminus of the Alaskan highway. Visitors to Delta Junction can fill up on supplies, enjoy a hot meal and see some of the other gorgeous parks and recreation sites in and around the Tanana Valley.
Clearwater sports 17 sites suitable for RV and trailer camping. July and August see lots of Alaskan Highway travelers, while September brings anglers looking to pull salmon from the river.
Clearwater is located just off of the Alaskan Highway and is also located near the highway's (technical) terminus at Delta Junction (though many drivers continue on through Delta Junction, ending their journey at Fairbanks). Those heading westbound on the Alaskan Highway can turn north onto Clearwater Road, which leads to Remington Road, which in turn leads to the park entrance. From the highway, it takes only about ten minutes to reach the park. If you are heading to Clearwater from Delta Junction, you can take Nistler Rd. (in town) to Clearwater Rd. to Remington Rd. Whichever route you take, driving should be easy - roads are paved, flat and well-maintained.
Clearwater is small enough that everything is within walking distance of the camping sites. The boat launch, restrooms, boardwalk nature trail and picnic area are all just a few steps away. Parking is straightforward, and there's plenty of space in between sites. Most spots are back-in, though a few are pull-through.
Clearwater's humble riverside campground sports 17 sites suitable for those traveling with RVs and trailers. Sites are spacious and many are lined with spruce, birch and aspen. Camping here is primitive, with no electric, water or sewage hookups. Individual sites have fire rings and picnic tables. Potable water, trash receptacles and vault toilets are available, too.
The campground also sports a lovely riverside picnic area. Firewood can be purchased at the park, while other supplies can be bought at Delta Junction, which is just a 20-minute drive to the west (dump stations can be found at Delta Junction as well - there are none available at Clearwater).
Clearwater was managed for many years by the Alaska DNR; however, it has recently been moved to management under a private concessionaire.
The slope of the Delta Clearwater is extremely gentle, making for wonderfully calm (Class I) floating conditions. The river flows for a placid 12 miles before running into the Tanana, which is itself a grand tributary of the Yukon that meanders across hundreds of miles of forest and tundra. Launching from Clearwater SRS, you can take a twelve-mile day trip, taking out at the Tanana. Some more intrepid adventurers float all the way to the Alcan Highway, a 40-mile trip that necessitates camping on the banks of the Tanana.
Clearwater SRS, and the surrounding Tanana Valley, are rich havens for some of Alaska's most famed wildlife species. Clear rivers, verdant fields and craggy mountains provide habitats for creatures large and small. Whether you're hiking, fishing or just enjoying a relaxing picnic, keep your eyes peeled for fauna. Commonly seen mammals include brown bear, moose, wolves, foxes, beaver and Dall sheep, while birders can scan the skies and water for species including trumpeter swans, pintails, buffleheads, widgeons, scaups and green-winged teals.
Clearwater sports a short but lovely boardwalk nature trail that follows along the banks of the river. Look for nesting waterfowl or study some of the hardy Alaskan plants which thrive during the brief but sun-filled sub-arctic summers. For those traveling the final stretch along the Alaskan highway, this is a great spot to stretch your legs without committing to a long or rugged trek. The trail is easily accessible and starts just behind the campsites.
Alaska's autumns are brief but dramatic. Though broadleaf trees do not grow as mighty as they do at lower latitudes, they are nonetheless prolific - quaking aspen and paper birch sprout in massive groves and burst with vivid yellows and occasional reds at the turning of the season. Smaller, non-evergreen shrubs, such as Alaskan willows, also change colors and add to the brilliant display. Come mid-September, the fiery, ephemeral hues contrast beautifully with fresh white snow on distant mountains.
Photographic opportunities bound at Clearwater SRS. Spring brings the blooming of wildflowers, while autumn brings a burst of fall colors. Both seasons bring migratory bird species, often in great numbers. Summer sees vegetation at its most lush and wildlife at its most active. Snap a photo of a moose drinking from the river as morning mist still hovers over the water's surface, or perhaps capture a shot of a bald eagle as it dives into the river for a fish.
The Delta Clearwater River, a short, calm tributary with cool, crystal-clear water, is one of the last great open fisheries of interior Alaska. Whether you fish off the end of the boardwalk, head out on a boat or bushwhack your way to a shore-line spot, you'll be able to enjoy world-class fishing in a gorgeous location. Arctic greyling are numerous during the summer months, while salmon runs usually occur around mid-September. Check with Alaska's Department of Fish and Game to get up-to-date information on seasons and licenses.