A custom trip begins with a dream. Yours. A desire to camp amongst the great herds of caribou in the Arctic. To climb high into the Arrigetch Peaks, to photograph bears in Katmai National Park…the options in Alaska are exquisite and limitless. For the wilderness traveler there is no better destination.
We take designing your custom wilderness trip seriously. With decades of experience, exhaustive knowledge of the landscape and wildlife, and an extensive network of pilots, boat captains and guides, each itinerary is tailored exactly to your specific dreams.
The process starts with your desires, the size of your group or family, your expectations, your budget and your abilities. Our role is to advise, inspire, listen, and finally to transform your dreams into reality. We can share with you what is possible and help you craft the ultimate Alaska adventure.
All of our trips are "off the beaten path", true wilderness expeditions. A custom trip can be one of our scheduled trips on dates of your choosing and exclusive to your group, or an entirely new and unique itinerary just for you. We work with groups from 1 person to 10 people but 4 to 6 is often the best. Browse through the list of custom trips we have done in the past or give us a call and tell us about your big Alaska dreams. We can help make them happen. From a family friendly base camp to true exploration in the farthest reaches of Alaska.
Wildlife trips: Our experienced guides can help you find wildlife whether it be caribou, polar bears, blue-throats, grey-headed chickadees, or musk oxen.
Photography trips: Wildlife photography, landscape photography, film or art. We have worked with professional and amateur photographers from around the world. Let us help you get the shot.
Film or Science Support: In addition to "fun trips" we also provided guide services and logistical support for field projects big and small.
Skills training: Need to improve your wilderness skills? We can provide field courses, skill specific classes in Fairbanks or a combination of the two. Rafting or canoeing workshops, navigation seminars, wilderness safety.... the list goes on. We have the experience to teach you.
Family and youth trips: We love seeing young people enjoying the wilderness. Though we haven't had any clients under the age of 7, we take our own toddlers to the Brooks Range regularly. We can plan a trip that will be safe and fun for people of any age.
In the far western Brooks Range near the Chukchi Sea is a remote and rugged wilderness. The country is stunning and rich in wildlife. Rolling green tundra is punctuated by steep rocky ridges. Local features have poetic names like “Inaccessible Ridge” and “Sphinx Mountain” Golden Eagles soar in the brilliant sky searching the mountains for prey. Wolves wander the ridge tops hoping to find caribou migrating through. You can be part of it all.
The headwaters of the Kokolik River are the very Northwestern extreme of the Brooks Range and there is ample solitude and room to roam. The only trails in the area are those made by passing caribou. There are no campgrounds, no other hikers, and not even any footprints on our route through the mountains. We trade the noise of civilization for nearly 24 hour daylight, long vistas, quiet canyons, and the possibility of wildlife around every corner.
Starting in near the continental divide surrounded by craggy peaks, we spend our first evening scanning the cliffs for Dall Sheep. As we head north the vistas open up and the tundra rolls northward. The wide open plains, home to musk oxen and myriad birds, are etched with deep caribou trails. We follow these ancient paths north towards the Kokolik, alert for animal encounters at all times. The hiking won’t be easy, but in return for the hard work of Alaska backpacking, we enjoy rugged colorful peaks, soft green valleys, and (if lucky) abundant wildlife.
We’ll travel about 30 miles with backpacks during the seven days and nearly as many miles on the optional day hikes. The route is an easy one in terms of elevation gain and the terrain covered, but there will be some long days and we’ll need to cross creeks from time to time. Hiking in the arctic is an “off-trail” experience, so a six-mile day can take as long and be as taxing as ten miles in other parts of the world. Experience backpacking is recommended for this trip, but novices in good shape, who are willing to do some training, would enjoy the trip too. Each hiker will carry 15-20 pounds of food and community gear in addition to personal gear; due to the small group size and the trip’s duration, expect to start the trip with a pack weighing no less than 45 pounds.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting in Kotzebue.
Fly northwest from Kotzebue, across the Noatak River and deep into the DeLong Mountains. Our skilled pilot lands on a river bar near the headwaters of the Kugururok River. Once the pilot leaves, we’re on our own. We’ll hike several miles to the first of many lovely camps. You’ll have the evening to settle into your surroundings, hike up a ridge or just gape at the awe-inspiring scenery.
Heading north across the arctic divide, we wind our way through the highest peaks of the DeLong Mountains. Once we cross the divide the country opens up and views stretch to the horizon. Your guide will help you find the best route through the wilderness and each evening we will make camp by a creek and have several hours to explore the area unencumbered by packs. Early in the trip there will be two small passes to negotiate. The ascents are fairly gradual and the views are unforgettable.
Hike a short distance to meet our plane at the Kokolik River. Weather permitting we fly back to Kotzebue mid-day and change our socks.
Transportation beyond Kotzebue, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, safety & repair gear and professional guide service.
Lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, backpack, tent, fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guide(s). An equipment list is provided upon registration. Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild.
Weather this time of year is often clear and beautiful. Because it’s the arctic, snow is always possible and you can expect temperatures to range from the 30s to the 70s. The bugs on this trip could be bad. Bring DEET and a headnet.