Koyukuk Custom – Composers

Koyukuk Custom – Composers


July 30, 2018 - August 6, 2018


Gates of the Arctic





July 30, 2018 - August 6, 2018


Gates of the Arctic



We start our trip where two enormous mountains stand like sentinels flanking the Koyukuk river creating 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. We will be better equipped and provisioned than was 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. Times of rugged explorers, miners and Athabascan Natives will be on our minds as we paddle this scenic river in our sturdy collapsible canoes.


Last updated: August 11, 2018


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

July 29

 Meet your guide(s) in Fairbanks for a pre-trip meeting at 2 pm at Arctic Wild headquarters.

July 30

Leaving Fairbanks we fly 200 miles, over the Yukon River, to the small town of Coldfoot. We then catch a smaller plane for a spectacular flight to the North Fork of the Koyukuk River. We set-up camp and enjoy our first night in the wilderness.

July 31

We have a full day to settle into our wilderness home. The hiking is good here in the headwaters and we will explore on foot from camp, getting to know the place and the routines of life in the Brooks Range before we start the canoe trip.

August 1 - 5

After assembling 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. 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.

August 6

A final morning to enjoy the solitude and camp routines before we paddle the remain miles to Bettles. Hot showers are in order!

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

Canoes, paddles, life jackets

Safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

Select Rental items



Non-camp meals (eg Bettles or Coldfoot)

Personal clothing and gear per our Equipment List

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide(s)


Early August tends to be mild and relatively warm but some years fall storms arrive early and heavy rains are possible. Prepare for variable conditions which include temperatures in the 70’s and in the 30’s. Bugs should be on the wane but a headnet and DEET are advised especially for areas with biting flies.


Arctic Village by Robert Marshall; Shadows on the Koyukuk by Sidney Huntington; Land of Extremes by Alex Huryn; Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner; Arctic Wild by Lois Crisler;Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall. More Alaska reading is available at 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!"
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Eileen - Canning River