In the upper Colville Basin, in the far western Brooks Range there is a wilderness almost totally unknown. Shallow, clear and punctuated by rocky bluffs, the Ipnavik River takes us through one of the least visited parts of Alaska. With help from CLF this area may someday form the core of the 5 Rivers Wilderness Area.
Last updated: April 16, 2019
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 4 pm in Fairbanks at the Arctic Wild headquarters.
Fly north from Fairbanks across the Yukon River over the Brooks Range past Gates of the Arctic National Park to a gravel bar on the Ipnavik River in the NPR-A. After unloading the airplane we will make camp and relish the feeling of solitude. An evening hike on the tundra will whet our appetites for more exploration.
We have the day to explore the headwaters on foot. Late in the day we can ready the boats, get a refresher on paddle strokes and review river safety in preparation for the next day’s paddle.
The weather, the river and the wildlife inform our decisions about when to paddle, when to hike, when to rest and when to climb the bluffs for a vista. Some days we will spend most of the day on the water. Some days will be shorter and more leisurely and there will be one or two days when we elect to explore the uplands on foot and fish for grayling in the river, leaving camp set up for two nights in a single location. No matter how we spend our time, each day will be full of adventure and surprises
We will camp at the base of bluffs that will afford us sweeping views of the Colville basin. Each day presents new wonders and each moment offers a quiet surprise. It is a subtle, serene, and rich landscape; hauntingly beautiful primordial wilderness.
A final search of the gravel bar for fossilized coral; one last look in the willows for blue-throats and then it is time to pack our gear and listen for the distant hum of an airplane, perhaps the first we have heard in a week. Once the plane arrives we wing south and back to Fairbanks. (Weather Permitting)
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 from Fairbanks to the river and back
Food while in the wilderness
Stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
Select rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild and is included
Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List
Fishing gear, and fishing license
Gratuity for guides
We can get some powerful storms that can either rain or snow on us in August, but we also get lots of mild summery days. You can expect temperatures to range from the 30s to the 70s. Mosquitoes and flies could be bothersome on occasion. DEET and a headnet are essential. Mid- August is not a time of extremes. We expect a bit of everything from sun to wind to rain to flies to perfect fall days when there is no place on earth finer than the Arctic.