Kongakut Rafting – Gilson


Kongakut Rafting – Gilson


August 3, 2023 - August 12, 2023


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)


$7,800/ person. Party of 6.



August 3, 2023 - August 12, 2023


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)


$7,800/ person. Party of 6.

The Kongakut River is famous for dramatic mountain scenery, fun wilderness rafting and frequent wildlife encounters. Paddle the Kongakut and hike the surrounding mountains, savoring this remote mountain wilderness with Arctic Wild this summer.


The Kongakut River winds through a breathtakingly gorgeous valley, offering it’s few visitors fun rafting and exceptional hiking opportunities. This hiking focused rafting trip explores the headwaters of the Kongakut River as summer bends towards fall. August is autumn at 70 degrees north latitude, and the tundra is starting to  turn crimson and gold. Berries are ripe and wildlife is gaining weight for winter. Peaks are receiving the first snows and birds are beginning to form migratory flocks. It is a beautiful and rich time of year to explore the Arctic.

The pace of this trip allows us to alternate rafting days with hiking days giving us an in-depth and intimate experience of the land. Hikes range from peak ascents, to long ridge walks, to meandering canyons with bubbling springs. With 24 hours of daylight, the only limits to our adventures are our imaginations, energy, and safety. Even on boating days there are opportunities to explore from each night’s camp – quiet cottonwood glades, small waterfalls, wildflower-rich willow forests and jutting outcrops above the river.

Wildlife is abundant on the Kongakut River in August. The big caribou migrations are in June, but even in August there are still small bands of bull caribou roaming the Kongakut valley and ridges.

Dall sheep abound and can sometimes be seen right down by the river and there have been some amazing wolf encounters along the Kongakut in recent years. The Arctic can seem austere, but for the attentive, the sky is streaked with birds and the river itself boasts one of the most reliable runs of arctic char (Dolly Varden) in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Some pools erupt with red and white flashes of breeding char when the rafts go by. They are fun and easy to catch if you are so inclined, and very delicious.

The Kongakut is a fast moving river with multiple braided channels.  The river is steady Class II, with a short (three-mile) canyon section with challenging, Class III rapids.  Boating days are busy, active and wildly beautiful as the Kongakut flows under cliffs and flows past peak after peak. We typically have 4 rafting days on this section of river and 4 days devoted to hiking, fishing, relaxing, or whatever pleases you most.

No previous river experience is required for paddle rafting. Instruction is provided. But good fitness and an adventurous attitude make all wilderness trips more fun. Hikes vary in length and difficulty and are based on your desires and abilities. With 2 guides on the trip, everyone need not hike together.

Last updated: October 27, 2022


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

August 2

Pre-trip meeting with your guide in Fairbanks at 4pm at Arctic Wild headquarters.

August 3

Fly 200 miles north from Fairbanks, across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the Gwich’in Athabascan settlement of Arctic Village. From there, we board an even smaller plane and carry on through the Brooks Range to a river bar alongside the Kongakut River.  Tonight, take a hike, and settle into your surroundings.

August 4- 11

Once we inflate the rafts and give a safety briefing we will launch in to the swift cold water.

On paddling days we spend about five hours on the water. This will allow lots of time for exploration, photography and a delicious picnic lunch. We run fun Class III rapids on several different days, and this entire stretch of river is exciting to paddle.

On each of the three or four lay-over days, we have choices of easy or harder, longer, higher climbs. Just before the last day or the trip, we hope to hike to a sweeping view of the arctic coast and see the Arctic Ocean stretching off to the curved horizon. The fishing is great from every single place we camp.

August 12

Weather permitting, our bush plane will arrive to fly us towards Fairbanks in time for a late dinner and warm shower.

I did not just have a good time I had a fantastic time.

Our guide was just wonderful. Lot’s of quiet patience, quiet expertise and a wonderful disposition, all of which made my Arctic Wild rafting experience down the Kongakut one of the most memorable of my lifetime.

- Joel, New York, USA



Round-trip airfare from 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 lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear, per our equipment list

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide(s)


Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic.  It could be warm, but it is best to prepare for autumn weather. Temperatures will range from the 20s to 60s.  When the wind comes from the north, the temperature can drop to below freezing. Cold rains and snow are possible, but we get plenty of sunny pleasant weather this time of the year too. Mosquito season should be over.


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!"
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Eileen - Canning River