Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
A Raft trip on the Kongakut River takes you on a journey through the mountain wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge down the river of caribou. The Kongakut river valley and adjoining tributaries are used by the Porcupine caribou herd as a migration route on their move from sheltered wintering habitat in Canada to lush spring vegetation of their calving grounds in ANWR. In this remote corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we enjoy a wealth of wildlife and solitude of the wilderness.
You can paddle approximately 50 miles of the Kongakut River as it cuts through the mountains of the Brooks Range on its journey north to the Arctic Ocean. Numerous small rocky rapids, shelves of ice and braided channels challenge our boat crews as all participants share in the fun of paddling the boats under the direction of a guide.
Most Kongakut River adventures originate in Fairbanks or Coldfoot Alaska where a bush plane takes your group on a spectacular flight. Passing over the Yukon River, the Brooks Range, and hundreds of miles of Alaskan wilderness, you’ll land on a gravel bar of the Kongakut near Drain Creek. After setting up camp, you could enjoy an afternoon hike across tundra covered with spring wildflowers.
Canyon rock walls reveal interesting folds and layers as we float past them on the emerald waters of the Kongakut River. Watch for caribou along the river and Dall sheep on the slopes above. Enjoy the midnight sun on ridge hikes, appreciating the view the sheep have of the mountain valleys below. Fish for arctic char and grayling in the still pools near camp.
Your group will float through canyons of “aufeis” (during June) where the walls of ice are often 12 to 15 feet high. There are numerous small rapids to enjoy and beautiful views up river of the mountains we have just passed through. Dall sheep gather at mineral licks along the river and we watch for moose and muskox feeding on the river bars. Towards the end of your journey you can hike along the ridge for views of the coastal plain and the Arctic Ocean beyond.
Paddling or rowing this Arctic river is a trip that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. With opportunities to capture on film the animals of the arctic, the Kongakut makes a fine trip for wildlife photography: caribou swimming the river, Dall sheep and moose grazing along gravel bars, and grizzly bears foraging on the slopes above. Other highlights include exciting whitewater, fishing for arctic char, and a celebration of the summer solstice with evening hikes in the golden glow of the midnight sun.