Gray-Headed Chickadee Rafting

Gray-Headed Chickadee Rafting


June 17, 2016 - June 24, 2016


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge





June 17, 2016 - June 24, 2016


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge



This 45-mile river rafting and birding trip is designed to explore the great diversity of the Arctic Refuge with an emphasis on locating Gray-headed Chickadees. By combining whitewater rafting, alpine hiking, world-class birding, and big wilderness, we have a trip that is sure to delight.


Last updated: September 27, 2016


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

June 16

Meet your guides for a pre-trip meeting at the Arctic Wild Headquarters at 5:30 pm. (George can meet with us as soon as he arrives in Fairbanks.)

June 17

We will pick you up early from your hotel. Then it’s a long day of travel north to the Arctic Refuge including several small planes and a thrilling flight through the peaks of the Brooks Range. If the weather cooperates we will all be river-side by early afternoon and after setting up camp we can acquaint ourselves with our wilderness home with an evening hike on the tundra.

June 18

Our first full day in the wilderness will be a mix of exploration and education as your guides teach you about the area and how to travel safely in it. Depending on the mood of the group and the weather this day may be spent on the water or birding the alpine areas above camp.

June 19 - 23

Each day of the trip brings its own surprises. With only 45 miles to raft during the trip we have plenty of time for exploration and birding. The trip will include two or three layover days where we can devote all of our energies to seeing the country and birds. The first layover will be as high in the mountains as possible and will feature a hike onto the alpine ridges. We will take another full day hike to an area we have historically seen Gray-Headed Chickadees. This all day hike may cover seven or eight miles and requires good fitness. We search for Gray-Headed Chickadees all along the river and with endless daylight we will have plenty of time for searching. Days on the river will cover about 15 miles over the course of five or six hours and will include several breaks for wildlife sightings, short hikes and a picnic lunch.

June 24

Clean up and pack our gear. Weather permitting, we’ll catch our return flights back south to Fairbanks, where we can remove our rubber boots and begin exaggerating about our trip. We expect to arrive in Fairbanks in time for a late 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, boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear and professional guide service. A selection of rental equipment is available from Arctic Wild and is included.


In-town lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guide(s). See full equipment list.


Temperatures vary from the 70’s to below freezing. Snow is possible; rain is likely. However, this time of the year we generally have lots of sunny weather. There could be bugs so bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent.


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Geographic; Being Caribou, Karsten Heuer; Arctic Dreams,Barry Lopez; Caribou & the Barren-Lands, George Calef; Fifty Years Below Zero, Charles Brown. 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!"
client client client client client
Eileen - Canning River