Rafting & hiking the Kongakut River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
This spectacular river rafting and hiking adventure introduces you to the breathtaking beauty of Alaska’s famed Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll take a 300-mile bush flight across the very top of North America to the headwaters of the Kongakut River in the Brooks Range, then navigate the river toward the Arctic coastal plain through some of the wildest country on earth.
Along the way you’ll stop for long day hikes up the ridgelines and mountains of this spectacular wilderness valley, and watch for grizzlies, Dall sheep, wolves, and parts of the vast Porcupine caribou herd as they migrate toward the Arctic plain. And since there is nearly continuous daylight, there’s ample time to hike and photograph the amazing scenery! This area is one of our most fascinating and ecologically diverse national treasures, and there’s no better way to see it than with the original Alaska Discovery company!
Easy to moderate paddle rafting with some Class III rapids, moderate to challenging day hikes
- Experience the magnificent Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and see all that it stands for
- Explore the most scenic portion of the "Serengeti of the North" while witnessing a slice of the vast Porcupine caribou herd migration
- Rafting days are complemented by leisurely layover days to hike, photograph, and explore to your heart's content
Duration: 10 days Start Location: Fairbanks End Location: FairbanksDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
NOTE: You will need to arrive in Fairbanks by 5:00pm on the day prior to day one. There will be a meeting at the Fairbanks B&B at 6:00pm
On day one we will fly to the Native community of Arctic Village.
After an early breakfast on your own, our journey begins with a spectacular 300-mile bush plane flight over the Yukon River Flats to the Native community of Arctic Village. We then switch to smaller planes and continue north over the Brooks Range and on to the upper Kongakut River. The Arctic Refuge is a land of majestic mountains, rolling tundra, and the coastal plain. At first glance, the country appears quite barren from our plane. But a closer look reveals a lush, alpine landscape blanketed with wildflowers, intricate valleys, and ancient rock formations and cascading waterfalls. We’ll land on a small gravel bar along the river, about 10 miles north of the Continental Divide, and set up our first camp.
INCLUDED MEALS: Lunch/Dinner
LODGING: MTS Private Camp
Days 2 - 9 : Rafting & hiking along the Kongakut River
Paddle along the river, encountering breathtaking mountain and valley scenery along the entire route. Our schedule on the Kongakut is flexible: rafting days alternate with full layover days to hike, photograph wildflowers and amazing wildlife--including the Porcupine caribou herd--fish for Arctic char and grayling (bring your fishing gear!), and explore one of the finest wilderness settings on earth. Our favorite hike near the end of the trip is up a long ridgeline for endless views of the coastal plain and the Arctic Ocean and offshore ice pack, under a sun that never sets.
INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
LODGING: MTS Private Camp
Day 10 : Return to Fairbanks and Depart
After hiking in Caribou Pass, we’ll break camp and await the arrival of the bush planes for our flight to Arctic Village, followed by a flight back to Fairbanks. We plan to arrive in Fairbanks by 5:00 p.m., but we highly recommend booking another night in Fairbanks as flight delays are possible. Guests often gather for a no-host dinner on this final evening.
INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch
DATES: Best time to go: June Departures: Jun 13 - 22, 2015 SOLD OUT Jun 17 - 26, 2016
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.
Chris Denker, Alaska Discovery River Guide: Chris writes, "I prefer cooler weather than hot." Chris lives in Haines, Alaska. In the spring he can be found attempting to summit Mt Fairweather or skiing into the Alsek Range. Although, he has guided for over a decade, and much of that time on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers, he still rafted a 27-day private river trip to more fully explore the area. In the winter Chris works in Antarctica as a field team member studying sea birds. Cooler weather? "Well, yeah, I guess I got it."
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.