Rafting & Hiking on Alaska's Hulahula River
From its headwaters in the Brooks Range, the Hulahula River flows through rolling tundra and a breathtaking canyon just before it spills onto the vast coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on its way to the Beaufort Sea. Here is a lush landscape layered in wildflowers, home to an outstanding variety of wildlife, including Dall sheep, musk oxen, snowy owls, sandhill cranes, eider ducks, swans, wolves, fox, moose, grizzlies, wolverine, and small bands of the Porcupine caribou herd on their summer migration.
Our trip—led by the original Alaska Discovery company—includes paddle rafting and several full layover days where we can break into smaller groups for birding, photography, nature walks, or a full day hike up the surrounding hills. No prior paddle rafting experience is necessary, but the Hulahula is a swift-flowing river with Class III whitewater—ideal for the paddling enthusiast!
Moderate to strenuous paddle rafting with some Class III/IV rapids, moderate to strenuous day hikes
- River rafting, hiking, camping in the pure wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Spectacular bush flights across vast stretches of northern Alaska
- Float across the coastal plain all the way to the Beaufort Sea; spectacular wildlife includes musk oxen, wolves, grizzlies, and caribou
Duration: 12 days Start Location: Fairbanks End Location: FairbanksDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Note: You will need to arrive on the day prior to day one by 5:00pm. There will be a pre-trip meeting at 6:00pm at Fairbanks B&B.
Meet in Fairbanks, Alaska, and fly across the Yukon River flats to Arctic Village. Connect with bush plane flights and continue north over the Brooks Range and on to the upper Hulahula River.
Days 2 - 11 : Rafting & Hiking along the Hulahula River
Our schedule on the Hulahula will be leisurely and flexible as we'll have nearly 24 hours of daylight each day! Paddle rafting days are mixed with full layover days to hike the ridges above the river, photograph wildlife and the fantastic flora, fish for Arctic char and grayling, and explore one of the finest wilderness settings on earth. A fun and exhilarating set of Class III rapids carries us through a narrow gorge on the first portion of the trip. The trip ends as we float out onto the vast Arctic coastal plain, with its unparalleled grand vistas that stretch for miles. The weather is highly variable. Prepare yourself for temperatures ranging from the brisk 30s to the scorching 80s by bringing a variety of clothing layers (see Gear List). At this far-north latitude, a light dusting of snow is even possible.
Day 12 : Return to Fairbanks and Depart
Take out near the Beaufort Sea and fly by bush plane to Kaktovik. Connect with bush flight to Fairbanks.
DATES: Best time to go: June Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
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Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Brock Tabor, Alaska Discovery River & Kayak Guide: For ten years Brock has been committed to a professional career as an outdoor educator and wilderness guide. His experience range from teaching skiing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and river rescue to photographing the plazas of Ecuador. Brock has a strong background in natural history which he enjoys sharing. Of guiding for Alaska Discovery, Brock writes, "I enjoy the opportunity to interact with people in an unusual setting. The rewards people gain through these trips are contagious!"
Brian Stevenson has been a professional river guide for twenty years. He continues to lead expeditions throughout the world, yet he always looks forward to returning to the rivers and mountains of Alaska. Brian says Alaska's rivers provide a wilderness experience which is unparalleled by any other place he's ever been. Brian holds a degree in geography and is a lifelong student of world politics
Christa Sadler is a geologist, educator, river guide and writer with a serious addiction to rivers, deserts, mountains and chocolate. Christa has been guiding on the rivers of the West since 1986, and although she has a home in Flagstaff, Arizona, she's hardly ever there. Her research in archaeology, geology and paleontology has taken her around the globe, including searching for dinosaurs in Montana, fighting off dust storms and overly curious camels in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, and steering clear of annoyed marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands. Christa also runs ‘This Earth,” a small business that brings geology and fossil programs to students aged K-12 around the country. She loves to write about geology, rivers, fossils and the land, and she has published several books and articles. She teaches and guides in the spring and fall, and escapes to Alaska in the summers to guide and write. Winters are usually spent recovering. Or sea kayaking in Baja California.
Jeff Sloss, Alaska Discovery Kayak, Canoe, & River Guide: Jeff has been a lead guide for Alaska Discovery for over 20 years. He has helped set the high standards of quality and commitment that makes us a great company. Whenever we think of exploring a new area we turn to Jeff to make it happen. In the winter, Jeff teaches skiing and snowboarding in Juneau, works on film projects, and helps raise his two daughters. Jeff is an active conservationist and has lobbied Congress to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Jeff carries a deep love for Alaska onto all of his trips. Jeff writes, "Among the high points of this career are experiencing some of the world's finest places, and meeting new people as well as enjoying the company of returning guests that share an appreciation of this Great Land."
Kevin McDermott, Alaska Discovery River Guide: "Thirsty" is an integral part of our Arctic rivers program. A laid back manner puts everyone at ease and he is a wealth of knowledge about the Artic rivers. Kevin has been guiding since he was 17 years old. Although he normally spends his winter months in Telluride Ski Area, he has climbed Mt Denali three times, and reached the summit in 2000.
Clint Fries, Alaska Discovery Guide: Calm, conscious and curious... Clint is an explorer. Guiding for 20 years from the Arctic to Latin America, he is always up for an adventure, and seldom at a loss for words. Clint entertains in front of some of the finest backdrops known. He likes to combine exquisite wilderness meals and an eye for the unseen. Join him for a trip and you will likely find the group positive, cohesive, and at ease in the wilds.
Sam Jansen, Alaska Discovery River Guide: Sam grew up in northern Arizona and studied creative writing and geology. While working for the U.S. Geological Survey, he fell in love with the Grand Canyon, whitewater, and wilderness guiding. Since 1991, Sam has been exploring many of North American's wild places by raft and kayak. Sam is an excellent videographer, but he is best known for a wit drier than the Arizona desert.
Joe Ordonez, Alaska Discovery River Guide: Joe lives in Haines, Alaska. A born humorist and storyteller, Joe travels the globe working as a naturalist. Joe has a great talent for getting people involved in the naturalist's view of life and before you know it you are crawling around on the ground in delight searching for Ptarmigan scat. He guides river trips for us and is co-author of the book, "The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini." He will be publishing several books on the history of the towns of Southeast Alaska
Don Johnston guides regularly on the Alsek, Tatshenshini, Karnali, Coruh, Zambezi and Upano Rivers for MTS. He has taught literature at Colorado State University, is fluent in Spanish, and has worked as a translator in the US courts and on Big Game Hunting Safaris in Zimbabwe. When not guiding, Don often works on projects for the non-profit group Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and has been stationed in Angola, Zimbabwe and currently Darfur, coordinating MSF's flights carrying staff, passengers, medical equipment, food etc. Don also has a master's degree in English Literature and has recently finished writing his first novel.