GUIDED ALASKA Custom

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VIEW AVAILABLE TRIPS A custom trip begins with a dream. Yours. Perhaps it is your desire to camp amongst the great herds of caribou in the Arctic. To climb high into the Arrigetch Peaks, to photograph bears in Katmai National Park…the options in Alaska are exquisite and limitless. For the wilderness traveler there is no better destination. We take designing your custom wilderness trip seriously. With decades of experience, exhaustive knowledge of the landscape and wildlife, and an extensive network of pilots, boat captains, luxury lodges, and guides, each itinerary is tailored exactly to your specific dreams. The process starts with your desires, the size of your group or family, your expectations, your budget and your abilities. Our role is to advise, inspire, listen, and finally to transform your dreams into reality. We can share with you what is possible and help you craft the ultimate Alaska adventure. All of our trips are "off the beaten path", true wilderness expeditions. A custom trip can be one of our scheduled trips on dates of your choosing and exclusive to your group, or an entirely new and unique itinerary just for you. We work with groups from 1 person to 10 people but 4 to 6 is often the best. Browse through the list of custom trips we have done in the past or give us a call and tell us about your big Alaska dreams. We can help make them happen. From a family friendly base camp to true exploration in the farthest reaches of Alaska. Wildlife trips: Our experienced guides can help you find wildlife whether it be caribou, polar bears, blue-throats, grey-headed chickadees, or musk oxen. Photography trips: Wildlife photography, landscape photography, film or art. We have worked with professional and amateur photographers from around the world. Let us help you get the shot. Film or Science Support: In addition to "fun trips" we also provided guide services and logistical support for field projects big and small. Skills training: Need to improve your wilderness skills? We can provide field courses, skill specific classes in Fairbanks or a combination of the two. Rafting or canoeing workshops, navigation seminars, wilderness safety.... the list goes on. We have the experience to teach you. Family and youth trips: We love seeing young people enjoying the wilderness. Though we haven't had any clients under the age of 7, we take our own toddlers to the Brooks Range regularly. We can plan a trip that will be safe and fun for people of any age.

Sheenjek River Canoe

Starting among some of the most beautiful peaks of the Brooks Range, the Sheenjek flows from the tundra south into the boreal forests. Our week on the river brings mountain hiking, river canoeing, and opportunities to spot wildlife around every bend. Join us on a classic Arctic Refuge River trip.

calendar

DATES

August is best
region

REGION

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
price

TRIP COST

$$$

TRIP DETAILS

The Sheenjek River, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was made famous by Olaus and Mardy Murie with their 1956 expedition (complete with 1 yr old child) to census caribou in the region. Inspired by the Sheenjek, they advocated for the formation of the Arctic Refuge which we enjoy today. We think the Sheenjek will inspire you too.

Starting in the limestone peaks of the Eastern Brooks Range the Sheenjek’s clear waters flow through deep gravel beds of ancient fossils and beneath gray and purple mountains. The upper river is dry and spare with enormous vistas and excellent hiking. As the river flows south and descends, the banks grow lush (for the Arctic) with every hue of green you can imagine, and before long the river enters the northernmost boreal forest, an open parkland of spruce dotted with lakes. Further south the Sheenjek is surrounded by the dark green of large trees and an ecology similar to the interior of Alaska. Each area has its charms and distinct wildlife.

Our trip on the Sheenjek focuses on the area of transition between tundra and forest, home to an astonishing mix of creatures. We may see tundra species like caribou, grizzly bears, arctic ground squirrel, and ptarmigan. Later in the trip we may see animals typical of the boreal forest such as beaver, moose, grouse, and lynx. Everywhere we look we will find beauty. Our Sheenjek River Canoe Trip travels through the Wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Sheenjek River is also a National Wild and Scenic River and truly an icon of the Refuge.

We offer two different options on the Sheenjek, a shorter 30 mile trip from the headwaters to Lobo Lake with lots of time to hike, explore, fish and relish in the solitude. Or we can explore more of the river and northern forests and paddle 90 miles of the Sheenjek, flying-out from a gravel bar where the Brooks Range merges into the Yukon Flats. No matter if you prefer a shorter paddle or a longer expedition, we will plan a few lay-over days, and on our traveling days, you will have free time enough for personal pursuits. There are mountains, hills, and bluffs to climb, arctic grayling to cast for, soaring white spruce forests to meander through, and graceful river bars made up of colorful Brooks Range rocks and fossils to explore.

The Sheenjek River starts slow as it works its way through the river gravels. then moves into a region of tundra ponds and clear lakes with spruces on the fringes where the river runs in a single channel. As we move downstream and gain skills as canoeists the current picks up speed and we dodge overhanging trees, small riffles and cut-banks. Canoe experience is recommended, but the Sheenjek is not a particularly technical river to paddle at normal water levels. If you are a novice canoeist, let us know and we can make adjustments to the trip.

ITINERARY

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

Day 0:

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

Day 1:

Leaving Fairbanks we fly 250 miles, over the Yukon River, to Arctic Village. We then catch a smaller plane for a spectacular flight to the Sheenjek. We set up camp and enjoy our first night in the wilderness.

Day 2 - ?:

We like to spend our first full day in the wilderness hiking the tundra and climbing towards the peaks. The upper valley is stunning. Hikes can be as short or as long as you desire. With endless wilderness all around there are few limits to the adventures we can have.

When we are ready to head downriver we will assemble the boats, refresh our paddling skills, discuss river safety, and join the Sheenjek on its way south to the Yukon. An average paddling day involves 4 or 5 hours in the canoes plus a leisurely picnic and maybe a stroll to a bluff or lake near the river.

As a custom trip we can set the pace of the trip to match your desires and schedule. We will make time for side trips to nearby lakes and can try and climb numerous peaks and hills near the river on layover days or in the evenings after a day on the water.

A 6 or 7 day trip is about right for the upper-most section of the river. 9 or 10 is better if we want to paddle beyond the mountains and into the sea of spruce forests beyond. If you want to paddle all the way to the Porcupine and Yukon Rivers, we’ll need at least 20 days.

 

Last day:

Weather permitting, we will hear our plane mid-morning and then make our way back towards “civilization.”  Once we get cleaned-up we can being exaggerating about the trip!

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Transportation beyond Fairbanks

Food while in the wilderness

Stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear. See full equipment list.

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide(s)

Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild.

WEATHER & BUGS

Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic. Temperatures range from the 20s to 70s. When the wind comes from the north, the temperature can drop to below freezing. Cold rains and snow are possible, but mostly, “bad weather” might come in the form of rain. Bring plenty of warm clothes and just a little DEET in case the weather is mild and the bugs are still around.

RECOMMENDED READING

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Alaska Geographic; Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer; Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez; Fifty Years Below Zero by Charles Brown; Midnight Wilderness by Debbie Miller. More Alaska reading is available at our bookstore.