Caribou Calving on the Coastal Plain

Caribou Calving on the Coastal Plain


May is best


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge





May is best


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge



The Jago Uplands have witnessed the birth of untold millions of caribou over the eons. Each spring, the Porcupine Caribou Herd makes an heroic journey from the northern forests up over the peaks and divides of the Brooks Range. Running the gauntlet of predators, plowing through chest deep snow, and searching millions of acres for sustenance, the herds head north of the mountains to the Coastal Plain. Specifically, the cows head to the Jago uplands where rich forage is available and predator numbers are low. Once they reach their hard-won destination, they give birth to their calves. We plan on pitching our tents among this annual miracle of life.


Last updated: January 24, 2020


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

Day 1

Take a morning “mail-plane” from Fairbanks north across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the tiny truck stop called Coldfoot. In Coldfoot we meet our pilot and load our “bush-plane” for a 2 hour flight across the snow-capped Brooks Range and out into the Coastal Plain. The plane will land on the gravel near the river. Once we unload and say good bye, we will set up a sturdy, comfortable camp which will serve as our base for the week.

Days 2 - 6

Each day will bring its own surprises. Bears chasing caribou? Calves nursing for the first time? Enormous ice chunks rolling down the river? Thousands of geese flapping through camp? Musk oxen braced against the wind? The first flower of spring?

Each day we will explore this unparalleled wilderness admiring, experiencing and photographing its wonders. The hiking along the river is decent and there are some hills and bluffs to climb, but caribou generally calve north of the mountains so we will admire the Brooks Range from a distance. Your guide will make suggestions of activities, lead walks, and keep you well fed. You will be free to experience the wilderness and the wildlife at your own pace.

Day 7

After breakfast and packing up our camp we turn our attention to the sky and listen for our airplane. When we hear the plane coming we take one last look at the seemingly endless wilderness and prepare for the long flight back towards Fairbanks. We should arrive in Fairbanks in time to shower before dinner.

Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless.  A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.

You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed.  Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails.   He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.

- Sandra, California, USA



Transportation beyond Fairbanks, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, base camp tent, safety & repair gear and professional guide service.


Lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, backpack, tent, photographic equipment. Gratuity for guide(s). An equipment list is provided upon registration. Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild.


Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic and can range from the 20s to 60s at this time of year. Late May cannot be called summer here in the Arctic. We will prepare for cold, and perhaps be surprised by warm weather. We do get lots of sunny, beautiful weather this time of the year but this trip will have some snow and some cold windy days. We will bring a solid and warm camp. Please consult with us about what clothes to bring so that you are comfortable. No bugs expected.


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.

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
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Eileen - Canning River