The 100-mile Chena River that runs through the heart of Fairbanks is a natural venue offering year-round activities and celebrations. During the winter months, there’s plenty to get excited about on the frozen Chena, like the epic 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race or the Iron Dog—“the world’s longest, toughest snowmobile race.” In the summertime, you can watch the popular rubber duckie race that takes place during Golden Days or the off-beat regatta—a funky float down the Chena in contraptions created out of unusual objects and an extravagant amount of duct tape.
River activities include the ever-popular riverboat cruises, paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking in summer months and skiing, snowmobiling and dog mushing during the winter. You can take the three-mile river walk along the Chena any time of year and enjoy the interesting sites and sculptures along the way. Start off at the antler arch at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center and head towards Golden Heart Plaza, continuing on past the bridges lined with flags and stroll down to beloved Pioneer Park.
At 100 miles (161 kilometers) long, the Chena River is a tributary of the 584-mile (940- kilometer), glacier-fed Tanana River, which is the third longest river in Alaska. The colossal Yukon at 1,980 miles (3,190 kilometers) and the Kuskokwim River at 702 miles (1,130 kilometers) are Alaska’s longest and second-longest rivers, respectfully. The Yukon River holds the distinction of being the third longest river in the United States and the 21st longest in the world. The Yukon River’s source is located in British Columbia, Canada, and it winds its way across Canada and Alaska to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta where it empties into the Bering Sea.