Last updated: January 11, 2023
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
As a Custom trip we will work with you to choose the dates for your trip.
Meet your guide in the evening for a pre-trip meeting in Kotzebue.
We fly north from the Chukchi Coast at Kotzebue across the Noatak Valley and into the DeLong Mountains. Following the Kelly River from above, we assess water levels and choose the optimal starting location for the trip. Once the plane is unloaded and departed, we are alone in the vast wilderness. We may have to carry our gear across the tundra to access the river but once we are river-side we will set-up a comfortable camp and enjoy the area.
We spend the day exploring in the headwaters of the Kelly River on foot. Long tundra ridges beckon and the views are endless. After a day of hiking we will assemble the boats, review river safety, and prepare for the following day’s paddle.
Day 3 - 7
The Kelly’s clear waters pull us steadily south. The river starts quite small and there are shallows to negotiate. As the river grows it courses against small rocky bluffs and out into vast gravel plains. Though there are no rapids, the river is swift enough to help hone our skills. Each day will offer a mix of paddling, hiking, fishing and relaxing. With only 50 miles to cover in the trip, it is a relatively leisurely affair with plenty of time of exploration and wildlife viewing.
From the banks of the Noatak we pack-up camp and, weather permitting, meet our pilot for the flight back to Kotzebue arriving in the evening.