Sheenjek Canoe – Urness

Sheenjek Canoe – Urness


July 24, 2022 - July 30, 2022


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


$5,600/ person. Party of 5 or more.



July 24, 2022 - July 30, 2022


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


$5,600/ person. Party of 5 or more.

Starting among some of the most beautiful peaks of the Brooks Range, the Sheenjek flows from the tundra south into the boreal forests. Our week on the river brings mountain hiking, river canoeing, and opportunities to spot wildlife around every bend. Join us on a classic Arctic Refuge River trip.


The Sheenjek River, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was made famous by Olaus and Mardy Murie with their 1956 expedition (complete with 1 yr old child) to census caribou in the region. Inspired by the Sheenjek, they advocated for the formation of the Arctic Refuge which we enjoy today. We think the Sheenjek will inspire you too.

Starting in the limestone peaks of the Eastern Brooks Range the Sheenjek’s clear waters flow through deep gravel beds of ancient fossils and beneath gray and purple mountains. The upper river is dry and spare with enormous vistas and excellent hiking. As the river flows south and descends, the banks grow lush (for the Arctic) with every hue of green you can imagine, and before long the river enters the northernmost boreal forest, an open parkland of spruce dotted with lakes.

Our trip on the Sheenjek focuses on the area of transition between tundra and forest, home to an astonishing mix of creatures. We may see tundra species like caribou, grizzly bears, arctic ground squirrel, and ptarmigan. Later in the trip we may see animals typical of the boreal forest such as beaver, moose, grouse, and lynx.

Everywhere we look we will find beauty. Our Sheenjek River Canoe Trip travels through the Wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Sheenjek River is also a National Wild and Scenic River and truly an icon of the Refuge.

For your trip on the Sheenjek we will explore a 30 mile section of river from the headwaters to Lobo Lake with lots of time to hike, explore, fish and relish in the solitude. We will plan a few lay-over days, and on our traveling days, you will have free time enough for personal pursuits. There are mountains, hills, and bluffs to climb, arctic grayling to cast for, soaring white spruce forests to meander through, and graceful river bars made up of colorful Brooks Range rocks and fossils to explore.

The Sheenjek River starts slow as it works its way through the river gravels. then moves into a region of tundra ponds and clear lakes with spruces on the fringes where the river runs in a single channel. As we move downstream and gain skills as canoeists the current picks up speed and we dodge overhanging trees, small riffles and cut-banks. Canoe experience is recommended, but the Sheenjek is not a particularly technical river to paddle at normal water levels. If you are a novice canoeist, please find an opportunity before the trip to gain some skills by taking a canoe class.

Last updated: September 27, 2022


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

July 23

Meet your guide(s) for a pre-trip meeting in Fairbanks at 4 pm at Arctic Wild headquarters.

July 24

Leaving Fairbanks we fly 250 miles, over the Yukon River, to Arctic Village. We then catch a smaller plane for a spectacular flight to the Sheenjek. We set up camp and enjoy our first night in the wilderness.

July 25 - 29

We like to spend our first full day in the wilderness hiking the tundra and climbing towards the peaks. The upper valley is stunning. Hikes can be as short or as long as you desire. With endless wilderness all around there are few limits to the adventures we can have.

When we are ready to head downriver we will assemble the boats, refresh our paddling skills, discuss river safety, and join the Sheenjek on its way south to the Yukon. An average paddling day involves 4 or 5 hours in the canoes plus a leisurely picnic and maybe a stroll to a bluff or lake near the river.

As a custom trip we can set the pace of the trip to match your desires and schedule. We will make time for side trips to nearby lakes and can try and climb numerous peaks and hills near the river on layover days or in the evenings after a day on the water.


July 30

Weather permitting, we will hear our plane mid-morning and then make our way back towards “civilization.”  Once we get cleaned-up we can being exaggerating about the trip!

Michael listened to our descriptions of what we wanted in a trip and investigated the possibility of making that sort of trip happen. Unlike some other guide services, he was attuned to what we were saying and did not outright say he could not accommodate us because Arctic Wild only provided trips like X, Y, or Z. In my opinion, the major difference between Arctic Wild and the 4 other guide services I talked to was that Michael tried to design a trip meeting our trip objectives and wishes.

- Rochelle , Missouri, USA



Transportation beyond Fairbanks

Food while in the wilderness

Stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

Select camping equipment is available through Arctic Wild



Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear. See full equipment list.

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide(s)


Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic. Temperatures range from the 20s to 70s. When the wind comes from the north, the temperature can drop to below freezing. Cold rains and snow are possible, but mostly, “bad weather” might come in the form of rain. Bring plenty of warm clothes and just a little DEET in case the weather is mild and the bugs are still around.


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Alaska Geographic

Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

Fifty Years Below Zero by Charles Brown

Midnight Wilderness by Debbie Miller

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!"
client client client client client
Eileen - Canning River