Homesick Hawaiian natives, shanghied to work on whaling ships at the turn of the century, named this river for the way it snakes across the coastal plain in the Arctic Refuge. On this outstanding river trip, you’ll experience the full range of the Arctic North Slope. Beginning high up in the mountains near the Arctic Divide, you’ll raft exhilarating Class III whitewater in the shadow of the highest peaks in the Brooks Range. The river’s pace gentles as it breaks out of the foothills into the boundless expanses of the coastal plain—but the land comes alive with wildflowers, nesting birds and bands of musk ox and caribou. As always on our river trips, we leave plenty of time for hiking and exploring the land.
Our river journey ends only a few miles from the Arctic Ocean, at the last patch of tundra a plane can use as a landing strip. The flights into this river originate in and return to Arctic Village, a Gwitch’in village on the south slope.
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).