- Class II-III (IV)
- River Length
- 90 miles
- 10-12 days
The Hulahula River is located North of the Arctic Circle, traveling through the controversial 1002 area of the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area that could possibly be opened to future oil drilling. The Hulahula River flows from its headwaters along the continental divide in the Brooks Range to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean.
The Hulahula River, interestingly a Hawaiian name bestowed on the river during 19th century whaling in the Beaufort Sea, winds through treeless high Alpine Tundra on its way seaward. The Hulahula squeezes through several exciting river canyons and spilling out onto the Arctic Plain before joining with the Arctic Ocean.
The Hulahula is one of the more difficult rivers in the region. The Hulahula features whitewater ranging from splashy beginner riffles across shallow gravel bars to intermediate and one advanced level pool drop sections with substantial waves, holes, and hydraulics created as the river is squeezed through narrow river canyons.
The Hulahula River is located completely above tree line, allowing for sweeping vistas of the rolling tundra and impressive peaks of the western Brooks Range. Two of the highest peaks in the Brooks Range, the heavily glaciated Mt. Michelson (8,855 ft) and Mt. Chamberlain (9,029 ft), flank the Hulahula and dominate the landscape.
Wildlife is prolific along the banks of the Hulahula with common sightings of Caribou, Dall Sheep, Musk Oxen, Wolves, Grizzly Bear and Moose. The Hulahula is the preferred calving area for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, almost 175,000 individuals strong and the area also is home to the largest population of Dall Sheep in North America. Avid fishermen and fisherwomen should not forget their equipment, as the Hulahula has excellent fishing for Arctic Grayling and Arctic Char.
Multi-day trips on the Hulahula River are accessed via bush-plane from Fairbanks to the small Gwich’in town of Arctic Village, located at the edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Additional bush-plane flights access the put-in and take-out of the Hulahula. Return trips to Fairbanks are routed through Arctic Village or Kaktovik.
Visitors to rivers in the high Arctic should be adventurous and open-minded. The Arctic region is a harsh environment and can require a bit of tolerance from her visitors. Weather in the Arctic can range from 80 degrees and sunny to 40 degrees and raining to 20 degrees and snowing, all within an hour. 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 never be forgotten.