Alaska’s Arctic Coast is a storied and rich region and Kasegaluk Lagoon in the Chukchi Sea hosts an astounding wealth of wildlife during our brief summer. It is one of the largest and least disturbed coastal lagoons in the world. Seals, whales and waterfowl migrate to the lagoon each summer. Join our Arctic Coast Canoe trip to discover why.
An austere landscape at first glance, time spent on the Arctic Coast reveals it to be a region of stunning beauty and richness. Kasegaluk Lagoon is where the coastal tundra melts into the Chukchi Sea. Fed by five major rivers, the land and water mix in an infinite variety of lakes, bays and inlets. The diversity of wildlife and habitats is astounding.
Fresh water lagoons and river mouths wind far inland with ideal nesting habitat for both waterfowl and upland species. Kasegaluk Lagoon itself is brackish and in addition to pods of beluga whales, hosts ringed, spotted, and bearded seals along with the resident and migratory fish and birds. Numerous lakes and ponds provide habitat for nesting loons, swans, and more. Scores of waterfowl, including Black Brant, King, Common and Spectacled Eider, collect in the lagoons and river deltas to breed and molt. Tens of thousands of sea ducks migrate along this coast in July. The coastal tundra is thick with shorebirds and other nesting birds from the world over.
Between the lagoon and the Chukchi Sea are a series of barrier islands. These long gravelly spits are full of driftwood, whale bones, duck nests, and all manner of gifts from the sea. We will split our time among these many habitats, paddling far inland to experience the tundra for a few days, then heading seaward to beach comb on the barrier islands the next. In many years, the Western Arctic caribou herd stampedes to the coast to avoid insects further inland, and foxes search the driftwood for eider nests while the sun refuses to set over the northern ocean. It is a magical landscape, suddenly vibrant and teeming with life during the short summer.
This arctic canoe trip will explore this rich and interesting area for a week in July. This stretch of the coast is protected by barrier islands and the nearby sea ice, making the canoeing relatively safe and easy. The area is known for high-winds which might make preclude paddling some days, but with ample time and endless daylight, we can roam the tundra and coast watching wildlife, gaze for hours at the changing light, and learn about the resilient creatures that make their homes on this rugged coast. This is an ideal trip for birders, photographers or anyone wanting to see this enchanting area.
Last updated: January 23, 2020
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 at 6:45 pm.
Fly from Kotzebue north into one of the most remote and untraveled parts of Alaska. On the flight, we cross the Brooks Range and may see thousands upon thousands of caribou migrating west.
The days and nights are ours to explore and marvel at this unique destination. We will plan to paddle about 40 miles of lagoons bays and coastal rivers. With plenty of time to cover the distance, we will travel when conditions are favorable and explore on foot when the wind picks-up. When not paddling we can hike in search of wildlife and birds, explore the old village sites, beach comb for whale and walrus bones, maybe observe arctic foxes at their dens, photograph sea ducks, or just sit by a driftwood fire and enjoy the sight of the sea and sky. No matter how we spend our time, each day will be full of adventure and surprises.
On our last day we await our pilot and the spectacular flight back south across the tundra. Weather permitting, we will be back to Kotzebue in time for a hot shower and a late dinner.
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.
Round-trip airfare from Kotzebue
Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
Personal clothing and gear. See full equipment list
Fishing gear, and fishing license
Gratuity for guide(s)
Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild
Wind is the norm on this coast. It is often strong and will dictate much of what we can and can’t do on this trip. Otherwise expect a variety of weather. July tends to be mild by arctic standards. Expect temperatures to range from in the 60’s down to freezing. Snow is always possible. Bugs could be an issue on hikes inland so DEET and a head net are recommended.