Mission: Caribou


June 24- 29 and June 29 - July 4, 2024


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Trips





June 24- 29 and June 29 - July 4, 2024


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Trips



Each and every summer the Porcupine River caribou herd congregates in northern Alaska for one of the world’s most inspiring wildlife migrations. By late June, the herd swells to nearly 225,000 animals and we regularly see thousands and even tens of thousands of caribou climbing tundra ridges and swimming icy rivers.


It is a thrilling experience to watch a valley fill with caribou. The sound of 60,000 caribou walking through your camp cannot be described. But because Arctic Alaska is so vast and the caribou vary their route from year to year, it can be difficult to plan a trip to see this wildlife spectacle. Their movements are affected by snow depth, temperature, insect abundance and wind direction to name just a few factors. It is almost impossible to predict where they will be tomorrow never mind next June, but it is not Mission: Impossible… it is Mission: Caribou! We have a plan to get you into the herd.

Before your arrival we will be gathering information from pilots, biologists and others in the field. On the day your trip begins, together with our bush pilot, we will decide on the best place to set-up our base camp. One summer we had 40,000 caribou pass by our camp for three days! Being around that many caribou also means we have an excellent chance of seeing large predators such as wolves, bears and wolverines, even Golden Eagles, soaring overhead looking for caribou calves to eat.

While we never could guarantee that we will hit the big migration, this trip will give you your best shot. The focus of this trip is to see large groups of caribou, but you will also be in one of the most beautiful places on the planet!

The wildflowers will be in full bloom, the hundreds of species of migrating birds will have returned and we hope the mosquitoes will have not yet hatched. It’s a wonderful time to be in the Arctic with or without the caribou.

With 24 hours of daylight and nearly limitless wilderness all around, there is no end to the exploration we can do. Each day we will head off in a different direction seeking wildlife and vistas. How far you choose to hike each day is largely up to you, but the more you can hike, the more wildlife you are likely to see.

We will have two separate campsites on this trip in an effort to double your chances of seeing caribou and to give you a sense of the diversity of the Arctic Refuge. Mid-way through the trip our pilot will return to shuttle us to a new campsite where the search for caribou and good hiking resumes.

There is an old saying in the North which translates roughly into “No one knows the way of the wind or the caribou” which hints at the difficulty of finding caribou. There are certainly no guarantees on a trip like this, but the search is always rewarding no matter the outcome.

Last updated: October 17, 2023


What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

June 23 or (June 28th) depending on which trip you join

Meet with your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 4 pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters.


June 24 (29)

We fly from Fairbanks to the tiny Gwich’in village of Arctic Village where we meet with our bush pilot and decide where we should fly to put ourselves in the path of the migrating caribou.

June 25- 26 (June 30 - July 1)

We spend our time exploring the area looking for caribou and other wildlife. Your guide will lead hikes in hopes we can place ourselves in a hidden location in the path of the caribou. There will be times when no caribou are present, but there is no end to the beauty of the arctic.


June 27 (July 2)

Weather permitting, we move our camp to a new location in the Arctic Refuge. Perhaps our first guess about where the herds would be was off and we will try again to get you into the aggregation. Or perhaps you have had a couple days with the caribou and want to see a different landscape or hike in the Brooks Range.


June 28 (July 3)

Another full day to enjoy the solitude and beauty of North America’s greatest wilderness. More hiking and wildlife watching is the order of the day.


June 29 (July 4)

We say our last goodbyes and meet our bush pilot for our flight back to Fairbanks for hot showers and a soft bed. Weather permitting we arrive back in time for a late dinner.

I had a great time. This trip was amazing in every single way. Definitely one I will never forget. ….an amazing guide. As good as you can ask for: knowledgeable, cool, great cook, always positive… Kind of guy who can turn the worst scenario into the best. Definitely the best guide I’ve ever had, hands down!

- Mario, SD, Dominican Republic



Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks to the Arctic Refuge

Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

Select Camping Equipment is available through Arctic Wild


Non-camp lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear. See full equipment list

Gratuity for guide


Temperatures vary from the 70’s to below freezing. Snow is possible; rain is likely. However, this time of the year we generally have lots of sunny weather. There could be bugs, so bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent just in case.


Seasons of Life and Land by Shubanker Banjeeri

Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

Midnight Wilderness by Debbie Miller

Caribou & the Barren-Lands by George Calef

Fifty Years Below Zero by Charles Brown

You may also find this link of interest- Porcupine Herd Movements Animation

More Alaska reading available at our bookstore

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
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Eileen - Canning River