For the best of Gates of the Arctic and Kobuk Valley National Parks, look no further. A week of paddling and hiking in the upper Noatak combined with a couple days of base camping in Kobuk Dunes lets you sample the great diversity of Northern Alaska’s National Parks.
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- a hikers paradise. These are two our our most incredible National Parks.
Last updated: September 20, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting in Fairbanks at 4pm
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 floatplane into the Gates of the Arctic National Park. We’ll land on a sprawling lake near the river and take the rest of the day to pitch camp and explore our surroundings on foot. Welcome to paradise.
We’ll paddle our way down the Noatak. On the moving days we travel about 15 miles which will take about 4 hours. There will be free time each and every day after camp is pitched, the long evening is yours to enjoy the golden arctic sunlight, fishing, climbing the nearby ridges or just skipping rocks! We will also have a couple layover days when we don’t need to break camp and can enjoy the solitude and wilderness. Hiking into the high-country is good from every camp and there are several all-day hikes we can try if the group is game. There are also plenty of shorter hikes we can take. All of them lovely and all likely to encounter wildlife. The weather and your desires dictate much of the schedule during the trip.
Time to pack-up the folding canoes 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.
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.
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).
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.
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 50’s. This is the beginning of autumn and fall storms are certainly possible but sunny cool fall weather is possible too. Mosquitoes should be on the decline, but travel with insect repellent (DEET) and a head-net just in case.