Campbell Creek is a splashy, meandering Class I to Class II creek that originates in the Chugach Mountains and flows southeast through the urban center of Anchorage. The first thing that you should know about floating Campbell Creek – is that it’s pretty easy if you put in and take out in the right spots.
Most boaters will float some portion of the 8-mile section between Piper St cul-de-sac and the Dimond Blvd Bridge. You don’t need a fancy packraft, canoe, or even a kayak, but they help. And they’re probably the most reliable way to head down stream. A cheap inflatable boat might work for a while, but be prepared to patch it up or walk out of the creek if it punctures.
As long as the water level is moderately good, Campbell Creek is a fun float. But no matter how full the creek is, you’ll probably still hit the bottom at some point. Campbell Creek is floatable all summer, and is at its best during hot days from June to August. Make sure the creek is ice-free before floating, and stay off during any storms or floods.
Campbell Creek is riffley and rocky, and maneuvering around half-fallen trees and shallows will keep you on your toes as you’re treated to a fish’s-eye view of the lives of thousands of Anchorage residents. The creek passes under highways, through neighborhoods and public parks, past restaurants and behind car dealerships – that glimmer underwater is equally likely to be a king salmon or a shopping cart. Yet, on some of its wilder meanders the creek swings away from the roads and trails entirely and you could almost imagine yourself in the wilderness.
Campbell’s real charm comes not from its technical aspects, because it’s not really technical, but instead from the way it gives boaters a new perspective on Anchorage.