Noatak and Kobuk Dunes- Ralph Custom

Noatak and Kobuk Dunes- Ralph Custom


July 22, 2016 - July 30, 2016


Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks


$6000/ person starting in Fairbanks and ending in Kotzebue



July 22, 2016 - July 30, 2016


Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks


$6000/ person starting in Fairbanks and ending in Kotzebue

For the best of Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks, look no further. Seven days of paddling and hiking in the upper Noatak combined with three days of base camping in Kobuk Dunes lets you sample the great diversity of Northwest Alaska.

The Noatak features tundra hiking, excellent canoeing, and regular wildlife encounters. The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes are a sea of sand in the Arctic wilderness formed during the last ice age as winds tore through the region depositing glacial sands in the broad Kobuk Valley- a hikers paradise.


Last updated: September 27, 2016


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

July 21

Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting in Fairbanks at 4pm

July 22

It’s a long day.  We fly north from Fairbanks to Bettles, crossing en route the mighty Yukon River and the Arctic Circle.  Then, we charter a plane into the Gates of the Arctic National Park.  We’ll land on a sprawling lake near the river. If the mood strikes us we will assemble the canoes and paddle for a bit. Or we might elect to explore our surroundings on foot and save the paddling for the next day.

July 23- 27

We’ll canoe our way down the Noatak.  We’ll paddle about 12 miles on the moving days which will take about 4 hours. Alternating days will be layover days, and we will explore from each camp on foot. We can climb peaks from every camp, but there is also lots of good walking along the river, or up pretty tundra creeks.  There will be free time each and every day after camp is pitched, the long evening is yours to enjoy the golden arctic sunlight.

July 28

Pack-up the boats and await the sound of a distant plane. Once everything is loaded we fly south to the Kobuk Dunes and land in a sea of sand. Then the plane departs and we are once again, alone in the wilderness.

July 29

A full day to enjoy the dunes. The sand constantly shifts and swirls. There are springs coming right out of the sand and great expanses where nothing seems to live. The hiking is soft in places but great distances can be covered if so inclined. Should you want to hike to the Kobuk River we can explore the dunes, forests and river in a long circuit returning to our base camp at day’s end.

July 30

Our last morning in the field. There will be time for a last walk in the sand before packing camp and then flying back to Kotzebue, arriving by late afternoon (weather permitting). You can arrange your own flight to Anchorage this evening.


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 starting in Fairbanks and ending in Kotzebue, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear and professional guide service. Rental gear is included in the price of the trip.


Non-camp lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, fishing gear, and fishing license. Gratuity for guides. See full equipment list.


Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic. Temperatures range from the 20s to 80s, averaging in the high 60’s. This is the warmest time of year but storms are always possible. Mosquitoes should be on the decline, so travel with insect repellent (DEET) and a head-net.


Nunamiut, Helge Ingstadt; Land of Extremes, Alex Huryn; Ordinary Wolves, Seth Kantner; Last Light Breaking, Nick Jans; People of the Noatak, Clair Fejes. 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