Beaver Creek’s clear waters flow from the White Mountains north of Fairbanks, clear to the Yukon River in Interior Alaska. It is a wonderful and wild piece of Alaska and the perfect place to learn to canoe.
Beaver Creek is fun canoeing. In the upper reaches, it is swift and shallow. Farther along its course, it slows and meanders. It is easy Class I most of its length with a couple faster sections to keep it interesting. No experience paddling a canoe is necessary, though experience with river travel and boats is recommended. Beaver Creek is a gentle river, for learning, but still provides enough surprises to keep even seasoned paddlers alert and engaged.
As moose come to forage along the river’s edge, we’ll likely see them; as grizzly bears and black bears scour the river bars for fresh veggies and rotten carrion, we’ll likely see them. We may glimpse wolves and fox as they go about their business. And, of course, those tirelessly busy beavers.
There is a variety of hiking along Beaver Creek. For a full-day hike, limestone ridges lead from the river’s edge to jagged peaks. Riverside cliffs afford good views and a variety of early-season wildflowers like Pasque Flowers, Bluebells, and Cinquefoil. The familiar smell of sage fills the air. Large virgin stands of white spruce mixed with birch line the river. Walk deep into the forest to happen upon a pothole pond filled with Green-Winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, and Barrows Goldeneye. These same forests make excellent shelter for camps, providing wood for fires, which in turn prompt bread baking, story-telling, and high spirits.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide(s) in Fairbanks for a pre-trip meeting at 4pm at Arctic Wild headquarters.
Beaver Creek can be accessed by either a ½ hour flight or a 2-hour drive from Fairbanks. At normal water levels, the road to Nome Creek is a good place to start the canoe trip. After we assemble the canoes, guides will lead a boat handling session to cover canoeing basics for beginners and help experienced paddlers brush up on technique. Then we’ll paddle four miles to a wooded campsite near a quiet slough. A long evening of twilight gives way to a chilly night. The Aurora Borealis may dance in the sky overhead.
After a relaxing morning, we’ll get to know our surroundings. This is the first of two layover days to pursue your personal interests. There is a climb up a limestone ridge right behind camp. Or we can hang out by the river, fishing and basking in the sun.
Paddle 10 miles as we round Big Bend, so named because the river does a big bend around the end of the limestone ridge we camped at the day before. We’ll float below several big cliffs, scanning for Peregrine Falcons and Rough-Legged Hawk nests. Several good evening hikes are possible.
The valley widens, exposing the breadth of the northern sky. Marshlands and ponds stretch away to the mountains’ flanks. The river meanders, often folding back upon itself. Moose favor the area; in years past we have seen as many as eight moose in the area. We will paddle about 15 miles each day.
Layover day to explore the complex of beaver ponds just off the river. Large gravel bars and steep cut banks offer interesting walking and hiking, too. This area is something of a wildlife corridor. The river valley is narrow here and there is sign of Dall sheep and caribou. One year we watched a wolf for 30 minutes.
Fun paddling today. We descend 20 miles through a canyon, lined on each side by towering mountains. Majestic spruce forests cloak the steep slopes, and side creeks rush into Beaver Creek. Peregrine Falcons wheel overhead. Dall sheep can be seen on the slopes of Victoria Mountain, elevation 4,588. We will camp here.
Our last paddling day. Quick current and majestic peaks continue to challenge and awe us. We emerge from the mountains to the edge of the Yukon Flats, a vast basin of sluggish creeks, ponds, lakes, and dwarf spruce forests. But our explorations of the flats will have to wait for another year. We camp here at the edge of the mountains to await our charter flight.
With canoes cleaned and rolled-up, we await our pilot. After we take off, catch a last glimpse of the wilderness because soon we’ll be flying back into the 21st Century.
Transportation from Fairbanks, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear and professional guide service.
Lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, waterproof river bag, fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guide(s). An equipment list is provided upon registration. Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild.