Nimiuktuk Pack Raft

Nimiuktuk Pack Raft




Western Arctic







Western Arctic



Just south of the Arctic Divide in the Western Brooks Range lies the Nimiuktuk River, a small and nearly unexplored ribbon of blue in a sea of green tundra. Shallow and clear the Nimiuktuk takes us from the peaks of the DeLong Range to the broad valley of the Noatak, through a seldom visited part of Alaska. We will likely be the only people to paddle the upper Nimiuktuk this summer and probably the first in years. Light and nimble pack rafts allow us to start near the headwaters of the river allowing us to explore the entire drainage.


Last updated: March 6, 2017


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

August 4

Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting in Kotzebue

August 5

Fly north from Kotzebue 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.

August 6 - 13

Backpacking along the Continental Divide from Copter Peak to the headwaters of the Nimiuktuk.

August 14

Rendezvous with a food resupply and packrafts. Inflate the packrafts, get a refresher on paddle strokes and review river safety in preparation for the next day’s paddle.

August 15 - 21

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 ridges 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 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

August 22

We reach the Noatak River and join the main current. After a day of paddling we encounter “The Grand Canyon” of the Noatak. There are no rapids but the scenery is sublime. We paddle and hike in turn. The fishing is excellent and we often see lots of wildlife on this stretch of river.

August 23

A final cast of the fishing rod; a final search of the gravel bar for fossilized coral; 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 weeks. Once the plane arrives it is back south. Weather permitting, we arrive in Kotzebue in time for a late dinner and 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 Kotzebue, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, safety & repair gear and professional guide service. An equipment list is provided upon registration. Select rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild and is included in the trip price.


Lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, fishing gear, and fishing license.


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.


Nunamiut, Helge Ingstadt; Land of Extremes, Alex Huryn; We Live in the Arctic, Constance Helmericks; Arctic Wild, Lois Crisler; Packrafting!, Roman Dial. 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!"
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Eileen - Canning River