Discover Alaska - On Your Own
Alaska On Your Own

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River Floating
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Rafting on the upper Noatak River

River Floating

Noatak National Preserve/Gates of the Arctic National Park
The Noatak is an excellent float for the novice. The upper Noatak is characterized by scenic mountains opening to wide tundra valleys. Then floaters enter canyons and the mountains of the western Brooks range. There is excellent fishing for grayling, arctic char, and chum salmon (July and August). Wildlife viewing opportunities include caribou, brown bears, moose, wolves, fox, sometimes Dall sheep are observed in the canyons, nesting tundra birds, falcons and hawks. We drop people off with collapsible canoes or rafts in the upper Noatak, and pick people up lower on the Noatak, at Kelly River. We recommend people plan on a minimum of 10 days for a leisure float. We have had groups spend up to three weeks floating the entire river.

Upper Kobuk River (Gates of the Arctic Preserve)
The most popular stretch to float is from the headwaters via Walker Lake to the village of Kobuk. The scenery is spectacular and floating easy except for one stretch of rapids which some folks chose to portage around. Fishing opportunities exist for sheefish, grayling and whitefish. There are a number of different pick up sites available, depending on how far down river people choose to float. Scheduled flights and lodging are available at villages along the Kobuk.

Squirrel River
Located in BLM wilderness, close to Kotzebue, the Squirrel River is also a good novice floating river. Hiking opportunities from the river are excellent. Water levels in side tributaries may be too low for floating during some portions of the summer. Fishing for grayling and whitefish is excellent. There is also a late Arctic char run. Wildlife commonly observed during the summer includes brown bears and moose. Large numbers of caribou often migrate through the area in the spring and fall. People should plan on spending 3-7 days.

Upper Selawik River
Located in the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, the river offers excellent fishing (pike, sheefish) and birding. Wildlife in the area includes moose, brown and black bears and many other furbearers.

c/o Northwestern Aviation

PO Box 1010 Kotzebue, AK 99752
Phone (907)442-3525

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