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.
Join us for a classic canoe trip in Interior Alaska in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. Beaver Creek offers fun canoeing, good hiking and in season great wildlife sightings. This trip can be tailored to suit your interests and schedule though we reccommend mid-May and think that 7 days is a good minimum so you can soak in the beauty of the place.
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.
Previous experience is not strictly necessary to paddle canoes on Beaver Creek; instruction is provided by guides, but it helps if you have some boating experience and familiarity with canoes. We encourage all participants without current canoe skills to take a “moving water” canoe class prior to the trip if at all possible. ACA likely offers a class in your area.
Last updated: December 22, 2020
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.
The guides were uncommonly knowledgeable, competent, hardworking, and they consistently took care of the group before taking care of their own stuff. They kept our safety in mind while staying open to suggestions, and allowing folks a lot of freedom for personal wanderings.
Transportation from Fairbanks
Food while in the wilderness
Stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Boats, paddles, life jackets
Safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
Contact us for details and specific dates. May tends to be very sunny and nice.
Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer
People of the Noatak by Clair Fejes
Caribou and the Barren Lands by George Calef
Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner
Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall
Last Light Breaking by Nick Jans
Arctic Wild by Lois Crisler
More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore.