Canoeing and Hiking in the Gates of the Arctic National Park
These trips are timed to coincide with the autumn tundra colors and wildlife migration. In addition to the scenic wonder of the river valley, the river corridor is frequented by caribou, moose, grizzlies, wolves, musk ox, and fox. Small bands of caribou from Alaska's most impressive herd, the 400,000-member Western Arctic herd, travel the river as they begin their migration south to winter below the Arctic tree line.
We envision spending four to six days floating on the river, with the remaining days spent on foot exploring the dramatic upper Noatak and its scenic tributary valleys. The full day hikes can be medium to lengthy, on uneven terrain & smooth ridges.
This canoe trip travels through some of Alaska's most wild and remote areas. Previous paddling experience, either on lakes or rivers, is recommended but not required.
Hiking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, backcountry camping
Duration: 10 days Start Location: Fairbanks, Alaska End Location: Fairbanks, AlaskaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : To the Arctic
We will pick you up at your place of lodging in downtown Fairbanks and head to the airport for our 1 1/2-hour flight to the small bush community of Bettles.
Situated just above the Arctic Circle, on the Koyukuk River, Bettles is the jumping off point for our flight to the headwaters of the Noatak. By early-afternoon, we'll board a floatplane for another scenic flight, deep into Gates of the Arctic National Park, to an oxbow lake at the edge of the Noatak River. We begin our short portage to the river and set up camp there or downstream.
Days 2 - 9 : Canoeing & Hiking along the Gates of the Arctic National Park
We'll explore the broad river valley on a flexible itinerary. Canoeing on this often gentle, but sometimes swift-moving river will allow us to travel approximately 50 miles, and we'll explore more on foot.
Immense sweeps of tundra make this area ideal for hiking. Hikes to the ridges and up the tributary valleys provide us with incredible scenic vistas of the Noatak valley and surrounding peaks. We'll camp on riverbanks where peaceful river sounds abound. We will spend the last night or two camped at our take out lake, and enjoy some spectacular hikes from camp. The portage from the river to the lake (where the float plane will pick us up) is about 1/4 mile.
Day 10 : Back to Fairbanks
After a good breakfast, we'll be on our way back to Bettles and then south to Fairbanks. We plan to arrive in Fairbanks by late afternoon (approximately 5:00 p.m.) Often the group gets together for one last no-host dinner on this night. Departure information: due to possible flight and weather delays, we recommend you stay this evening in town and make plans to leave Fairbanks the next day. Many guests elect to stay on in Fairbanks a few days after the expedition is complete. We will be happy to provide you with information on what to do.
DATES: Best time to go: August Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
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!"
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.