This river, its lower stretch forming the NW boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is one of the Brooks Range’s often overlooked gems. Its unusual beauty has attracted landscape artists, enticing them to capture its colors, moods and vibrant energy.
The beauty begins with the bush flight in from Arctic Village, through scenery so sensational it will “knock your socks off.” The river trip itself starts on an upper tributary, 20 miles from the Arctic divide. In the remarkably clear water here, the river bottom itself becomes a captivating “landscape” underneath you.
On the main Canning itself, its flat water and sweeping vistas allow for easy viewing of wildlife, including musk ox, wolves, bear and nesting falcons, hawks and eagles. We take time for day hikes and fossil hunting on gravel bars as we travel out of the mountains and through the foothills, with the last river day bringing us to the edge of the coastal plain. Our return flight will take us back across the Brooks Range to Arctic Village.
We don’t have set “daily itineraries” since all of our trips are true wilderness expedition-style trips, where we build in flexibility to respond to weather and water conditions, animal sightings, etc. Here is a sense of the general flow of the trip:
Each trip leaves Fairbanks in the early morning of the trip start date, so you need to be in Fairbanks by at least the day before that. We’re scheduled to be back in Fairbanks by late afternoon/early evening of the trip end date. We recommend leaving at least a day’s leeway at the end of the trip in scheduling other travel plans, since there’s always a chance of getting weathered in at the pickup point.
We’ll be spending 4-6 days rafting down the river, with 3-6 hours a day on the water. There will be several layover days on the trip, where you can go for long or short day hikes or just relax in camp (not everyone has to do the same thing).