- River Length
- 83 miles
- 6 Days
A trip down the Alatna River is a spectacular voyage with unparalleled mountain scenery, offering a perfect opportunity to escape civilization in one of the last unspoiled places on Earth!
The Alatna River, federally designated as Wild & Scenic, originates in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve within the jagged granite peaks of the Arrigetch Mountains of the western Brooks Range of Northwest Alaska. The dramatic Arrigetch Mountains, described by wilderness steward Bob Marshall in the early 1930s as "fingers of a hand outstretched”, feed the shallow braided channels of the Alatna. Located completely within the Arctic Circle, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve encompasses over 8.4 million acres and is a wilderness National Park, with no roads, buildings, maintained trails or infrastructure.
The Alatna River features long miles of easy and slow river, at times becoming braided, allowing visitors to photograph and immerse themselves in the gorgeous scenery. The Alatna River originates in high Tundra and flows into Taiga spruce forest as it travels southward. Wildlife is often seen along the banks of the Alatna River, including Grizzly Bear, Wolf, Moose, Caribou, and Dall Sheep.
Trips down the Alatna River are multi-day and leave and return to Fairbanks via the small bush town of Bettles, located just south of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. From Bettles, visitors depart to the put-in of the Alatna River via float plane to Circle Lake and at the conclusion of the trip return to Bettles via float plane pickup from Help-Me-Jack Lake.
A multi-day adventure in August on the Alatna River is a wonderful way to enjoy peak foliage season in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Nights increase in length during late summer, allowing for outstanding viewing of the shimmering Aurora Borealis and brilliant stargazing opportunity.
During the summer months there is constant daylight in the Arctic region, a unique experience that should be factored into the trip planning. Gnats, mosquitoes and biting flies that see human visitors as a miraculous food source can also become an issue in the high Arctic. Proper measures should be taken by all visitors to the region to ensure their enjoyment of the experience. For those visitors willing to make the trip to the Arctic it is sure to be an amazing experience that will not soon be forgotten.