Kobuk Valley Canoeing and Dunes

Kobuk Valley Canoeing and Dunes


August 25, 2017 - August 30, 2017


Western Brooks Range


$6,800/ person. Party of 2. Starts in Bettles and ends in Kotzebue



August 25, 2017 - August 30, 2017


Western Brooks Range


$6,800/ person. Party of 2. Starts in Bettles and ends in Kotzebue

Located entirely north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park is the least visited park in the nation. Though totally unknown the park is full of interest. Kobuk Dunes is like the Sahara but with wolves, moose, and cranes. Onion Portage is an archeological district with evidence of use for the past 12,000 years!  See it all on this custom tour of the Kobuk River.


Last updated: February 1, 2017


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

August 20 - 25

Enjoy our Gates of the Arctic Photography Workshop. Spend the night of August 25th in Bettles at a local B&B (included).

If you prefer to spend a couple days at Iniakuk Lake Lodge rather than Bettles, we can arrange that too.

August 26

Fly from Bettles to the Kobuk River. We land right on the river near Onion Portage. We will likely make camp on the nearest sand-bar for the night, settle into the country and assemble our canoes.

August 27 - 28

We have 2 full days days to cover 30 miles which leaves plenty of time for watching animals, wandering the woods, visiting Eskimo fish camps, and casting a line in hopes of eating Sheefish for dinner. We will spend time at Onion Portage pondering the many overlapping cultures who have hunted here and the way the mountains funnel caribou to this unique spot. The paddling is easy on the broad river unless we encounter headwinds, but we will try to paddle when the weather is good and amuse ourselves otherwise if the weather gets tough. Instruction is provided and no paddling experience is required.

August 29

Stash our canoes and walk inland towards the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. It is a 2 mile “bush-whack” from the river to the dunes, but it is reasonably flat and the reward is worth the effort. Once we reach the sand we will begin our exploration in earnest. Caribou, moose, wolves and fox all frequent the dunes as do a great number of birds. The sand constantly shifts and swirls. There are springs coming right out of the sand and great expanses where nothing seems to live. At day’s end we trek back to the river where our camp and canoes await.

August 30

Paddle a few miles to a sand-bar suitable for the plane to land. Then weather permitting, our bush plane will arrive to fly us back to “civilization”. We plan to arrive in Kotzebue by early evening. 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.

- Sandra, California, USA



Transportation beyond Bettles and ending in Kotzebue, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, canoes, life jackets, paddles, safety & repair gear and professional guide service. Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild and is included in the price of any custom trip.


Lodging (except one night in Bettles), non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, backpack, tent, fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guide(s). An equipment list is provided upon registration.



Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic.  It could be hot, but it could be cold and rainy.  Temperatures will range from the 20s to 70s. Cold rains and snow are possible, but we get plenty of sunny weather this time of the year. Mosquitoes should be minimal or totally nonexistent this late in the season. Bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle of DEET repellent just in case.


Ordinary Wolves, Seth Kantner; Last Light Breaking, Nick Jans; The Brooks Range, Alaska Geographic; Alaska’s Brooks Range, John Kauffmann. 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