Alatna Packrafting (Garapedian/ Loiselle Custom)


Alatna Packrafting (Garapedian/ Loiselle Custom)


August 7, 2023 - August 13, 2023


Gates of the Arctic


$10,000/ person



August 7, 2023 - August 13, 2023


Gates of the Arctic


$10,000/ person

Light and nimble packrafts allow us to start in the headwaters of the Alatna and paddle the spunky clear river down to the Arrigetch Peaks. Once the granite towers are in sight, Your guide will head home and leave you to shoulder your packs and hike into Gates of the Arctic’s most iconic area. This is the ultimate Gates of the Arctic Adventure!


Limitless wilderness and adventure await on a trip that explores the very heart of Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Starting high on the Arctic Divide, the Alatna River’s clear water flows through the dramatic peaks of the central Brooks Range. Tundra peaks beckon in all directions and we will have plenty of time to explore them.

After hiking to where the river is deep enough to paddle, we will lash our gear into the packrafts and paddle down this spunky and fun clearwater river. Packrafting is an adventure. You will pilot your own single person raft down a true wilderness river.

In places, the river is shallow and we’ll get out of the boats and nudge them through.  Much of the time the current is swift but obstacles are few enough that we can take-in the scenery and relish in our relatively speedy progress through the mountains. In places we’ll weave between submerged rocks and small waves.

As we head downriver we will be rewarded with tantalizing glimpses of the sheer granite spires of the Arrigetch Peaks emerging from the boreal forest.  Dall sheep, wolves, moose and caribou are commonly seen in the area and we are likely to encounter them.  Arctic grayling swim below the pristine water and, with luck, can be caught along the route.

After a week of paddling and day hiking in the upper river, we near the Arrigetch and after a quick resupply from our pilot, you say good bye to your guide and assume responsibility for your own trip into the Arrigetch Peaks.

This is a strenuous trip with some long days walking and heavy packs to start.  Extensive backpacking experience and good fitness are suggested for this trip. Your guide will provide instruction on packrafting and river safety and the Alatna is a good place to develop paddling skills. No previous packrafting experience is required, but river boating experience is important. The first day of paddling on the Alatna is fast and technical.

Last updated: November 22, 2021


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

August 6

Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at noon in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters. We need to do this meeting at noon as there is another group meeting at 4 pm.

August 7

Fly north from Fairbanks across the Yukon River to the town of Bettles (population 15). Here we board a smaller plane and continue on into the Gates of the Arctic National Park.  Our skilled pilot lands us at the very headwaters of the Alatna River, right on the Arctic Divide….and then the plane leaves and we are alone in the grandeur of the wilderness.

August 8

The Alatna River is too shallow to paddle as it leaves the headwater lakes. We spend our first full day of the trip shouldering our packs and walking down river. Packs will be heavy and we will be glad when side creeks join the Alatna and make it navigable.

August 9

The first day on the river is challenging. The Alatna is small and steep here in the mountains and you’ll be busy avoiding rocks and shallows. We don’t need to cover a lot of miles but you’ll be tired and a little wet by day’s end.

August 10 - 12

Paddle and day hike in turn. The upper valley offers outstanding hiking and we will have time each day to explore. We have three full days to cover a little more than 50 river miles, which leaves some time for climbing mountains, watching wildlife or simply relaxing by the river.

August 13

Your trip with Arctic Wild ends this day, though your adventure in the Arctic does not. In the afternoon, weather permitting you will rendezvous with our pilot and exchange fresh provisions for our much beloved packrafts, then your guide flies towards Fairbanks and you are on your own. Arctic Wild will provide food and a limited selection of gear for your personal backpacking trip into the Arrigetch.

August 18

Conclude your personal backpacking trip in the Arrigetch Peaks. Weather permitting a pilot will meet you at Arrigetch Creek (or Circle Lake) for a flight back to Fairbanks via Bettles.

The trip  met all my expectations which were very high.  Of course the star is the Brooks Range – but your guides are excellent.  So knowledgeable about so many things and adding that warm touch (while also being a fine guides).

- Patrick, Illinois, USA



Guiding on the Alatna River August 7 – 13

Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks (returning to Fairbanks August 18)

Food while in the wilderness August 7 – 18, stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Packrafts, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

Select Camping Equipment is available through Arctic Wild


Non-camp lodging (if lodging in Bettles is required, it is not included)

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear, per our gear list.

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide


A variety of weather should be expected including rainy periods and bright sunny conditions. Temperatures can range from in the upper 60’s down into the 30’s. Snow is possible, rain likely but mid-August is often mild and nice. Bug season should be over, but there may still be mosquitoes and gnats around. You should carry a head-net and one bottle of insect repellent just in case.


Our Arctic Year by Vivian & Gill Staender

Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall

Make Prayers to the Raven, Richard Nelson

Alaska’s Brooks Range by John Kauffmann

Packraft Handbook by Luc Mehl

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