Koyukuk Canoe – Matthews Custom

Koyukuk Canoe – Matthews Custom


August 21, 2017 - August 28, 2017


Gates of the Arctic


$1,372/ person (party of 7)



August 21, 2017 - August 28, 2017


Gates of the Arctic


$1,372/ person (party of 7)

We start our canoe trip near where two enormous mountains stand like sentinels flanking the Koyukuk River; what Bob Marshall called “ The Gates of the Arctic.” His poetic flare and reverence for the Koyukuk gave name to the park we will explore for a week this August. We will be better equipped and provisioned than Bob Marshall, who spent a decade from 1929 to 1939 exploring and mapping this region and was later an ardent voice for it protection, but the feeling of discovery and awe will be with us nonetheless.


Last updated: October 9, 2017


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

August 17

Pre-trip meeting for Sylvie, Alan, August and Edwin in Fairbanks with Arctic Wild at the Arctic Wild “World Headquarters” at 10 am.

August 21

Arctic Wild Guide flies to Bettles at 1:30 pm and then onto Kachwona Creek with Canoes and related equipment

August 22

Pre-trip meeting for Sue, Lisa and Bill in Fairbanks with Arctic Wild at the Arctic Wild “World Headquarters” at 10 am.

Sue, Lisa and Bill fly to Bettles at 1:30 pm followed by a flight to Kachwona Creek in the evening. Sylvie, Alan, August and Edwin should hike into camp this same evening from Summit Lake.

August 23 - 27

After assembling our canoes and talking about river safety, we set off onto the North Fork—a small, clear river. We spend the next week enjoying this little river, as well as exploring our surroundings on layover days. The river is alternately fast and rocky and calm and sandy. The river calms for our last few days of paddling before joining the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk. Once past the confluence with Middle Fork, we enjoy this broad clear river and paddle the remaining miles to Bettles. Spend the night of August 27th at Bettles Lodge.

August 28

Catch a flight back to Fairbanks with Wright Air.

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



Arctic Wild will provide the following items and services for canoe trip.

4 Ally Canoes, 12 paddles, 8 life jackets, rope, straps and rigging, repair kit, and bailers for 4 canoes, Satellite phone for emergency use, First Aid Kit, ground-to-air radio, 4 bear sprays (hikers will have their own), cook-tent. One guide with personal equipment and his or her own food, lunch food for a party of 8 for 7 days (Breakfast and dinner will be the responsibility of each person; guide will bring his own breakfast and dinner for the canoe trip)


Air transport for any persons or any equipment. Any meals other than lunch for 7 days. Kitchen gear except a cook tent. Personal equipment (each participant will be responsible for bringing his/her own personal equipment as listed on the Arctic Wild equipment list). Lodging in Bettles or elsewhere for participants and guide. Fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guide.


Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic. Temperatures range from the 20s to 70s, averaging in the high 50’s. Cold rains and snow are possible, but we can get lots of sunny weather this time of the year too.  Mosquitoes should not be a problem on this trip, but a few flies could still be bothersome. Traveling with insect repellent (DEET) and a head net is always prudent.


Arctic Village, Robert Marshall; Shadows on the KoyukukSidney Huntington; Land of Extremes, Alex Huryn; Ordinary WolvesSeth Kantner ; Arctic Wild, Lois Crisler; Alaska Wilderness, Robert Marshall; Hope, Human and Wild, Bill McKibben

"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