Explore the beauty and wildness of America’s most northerly National Parks with Arctic Wild. We spend the first four days in the high country of Gates of the Arctic National Park. Then we travel west to Kobuk Valley National Park for four days of canoeing and hiking. To top it off, we spend a final day on the Arctic Ocean at Cape Krusenstern National Monument.
Last updated: January 5, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
We’ll have a pre-trip meeting at Arctic Wild Headquarters at 4 pm the afternoon before our departure where we’ll meet our travel companions, check gear, and discuss the next day’s logistics.
You’ll be picked up early at your hotel in Fairbanks and shuttled to the airport where we’ll catch a charter flight to the bush village of Bettles in the southern foothills of the Brooks Range. From there we’ll load our gear into a small float plane for the hour-long flight across the mountains to the lake. Once there we’ll set up a comfortable camp on the tundra next to the lake before heading out to explore. Welcome to paradise.
Each day in the backcountry brings something different. The weather, wildlife and your desires inform our plans for the day and serendipity plays a roll too. Some days we will take day hikes to explore the glacial cirques, nearby alpine lakes, or wander the high ridges. Other days we may stick closer to camp, allowing the opportunity to fish, search for wildlife, photograph the nearby surroundings, or day-dream by the lake with no one for miles around to disturb you.
Weather permitting, we’ll say a final goodbye to the lake and then fly west through Brooks Range and eventually land on the Kobuk River. It is a spectacular flight. Once on the ground we assemble the canoes and head down river to a camp near Onion Portage.
Two full days to canoe the Kobuk River. We watch the banks slide-by and scan the sand-bars for wildlife. With 35 miles to travel in 2 days we will need to spend some time on the river but with long days there is no cause for hurry.
Camped on the river bank nearest the Kobuk Dunes we have a full day to hike inland and explore the dunes. There is no trail to and from the river and it takes awhile to get to the sand, but then we have plenty of time to picnic on the dunes and go exploring before returning to our camp by the river.
Another 15 miles of canoeing brings us to the mouth of the Salmon River where we enjoy a final evening on the sandbar and relish in the quiet of summer on the river.
Weather permitting, our pilot arrives mid-morning for the flight down the Kobuk, through the Baird Mountains and then to the shores of the Chukchi Sea at Cape Krusenstern.
Between the waves of the ocean and the peaks of the Igichuk Hills, there are lots innumerable hikes, strolls and wanders we can try. The lagoons and wetlands offer exceptional birding and with luck we will see some muskoxen within hiking distance of camp. We often do.
There is more to explore and enjoy but when we hear the sound of the propeller we know that this adventure is nearly done. If the weather cooperates we should be in Kotzebue by mid-afternoon. Time to change your socks and take a shower!
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.
Transportation starting in Fairbanks and ending in Kotzebue
Food while in the wilderness
Stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear
Professional guide service.
Select Rental gear is included in the price of the trip.
Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List
Fishing gear, and fishing license
Gratuity for guides.
Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic. Temperatures range from the 20s to 80s, averaging in the 60’s. This is the beginning of autumn and fall storms are certainly possible. Temperatures should be warmest on the Kobuk and Krusenstern likely the windiest and coldest. Mosquitoes should be on the decline, but travel with insect repellent (DEET) and a head-net just in case.