The Marsh Fork of the Canning River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an artist’s delight. Fall in the Brooks Range can be spectacular, the landscape transforms into rich vibrant reds and yellows, animals are on the move foraging and fattening up before the long winter. The Marsh Fork is the perfect place to observe this special time. The river initially is very small and flows across the valley floor with inviting walks and hiking at every stop. The trip comes to an end on the Canning River, the largest river in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This Marsh Fork rafting trip is designed for many layover days and opportunities for wildlife viewing and relaxing. The Marsh Fork is exciting with fast moving water, fun rapids and beautiful vistas around every corner.
A Canning River trip traverses the northern portion of the Arctic Refuge from the Continental Divide to the Arctic Ocean. Your group will float approximately 85 miles of its length from the headwaters to the river delta. The river is fast with multiple braided channels to choose from. Everyone can join in the fun of paddling or rowing the boats.
The Canning forms the western boundary for the controversial 1002 area of the Arctic Refuge, the land near the arctic coast that is being considered for oil exploration and development. This area is important habitat for caribou and muskoxen, both for calving and as an insect relief area. You may see these and other mammals (including bears, wolves and moose) along the Canning River. The caribou migrate from west to east along the coastline at this time of the summer. You may get lucky and see thousands of caribou as they move from their calving grounds back into Canada’s Yukon. Abundant wildlife frequents ANWR’s coastal plain undisturbed. Besides caribou, we often see wolves, bears, arctic fox and musk ox. This area of arctic is also rich in bird life; loons, eiders, snow geese, trumpeter swans, and snowy owls. The vast variety of the 110 birds that nest in the arctic offers birding at it’s best.
Decisions made over the next few years may affect the Canning River and the wildlife populations of this section of the refuge. Presently, the area has much to offer in terms of a remote wilderness experience; opportunities to view wildlife, excellent hiking in its rugged untouched mountains and paddling on its wild rivers.