Alaska Map

Request Free Visitor Guides

Nigu-Colville River Complex

Basics
Class:
Class I-II
Suitability:
Canoe
River Length
90 miles
Time:
10 days
Season:
August

Description

The Nigu River, located North of the Arctic Circle, drains Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and the western Brooks Range. The Nigu River’s flows continue from the edge of Gates of the Arctic into the 22.5 million acre National Petroleum Preserve. Once in the Preserve, the Nigu River joins with the Colville River, the largest volume river on the North Slope. The National Petroleum Preserve has the distinction of protecting the single largest stretch of undeveloped land in the United States.

The Nigu River’s headwaters flow from a high alpine valley and pick up volume at their confluence with the Etivluk River. The Etivluk River serves as an alternative access to the Nigu when conditions permit. The Nigu River meanders through treeless tundra on its way seaward, allowing for excellent views of the Brooks Range, rolling open hillsides and the Arctic Plain. Occasional narrowing of the river channel forms riffles on portions of the Nigu River, though the majority of the waterway is swift and scenic. Much of the Nigu River consists of braided channels and outfitted trips prefer to use smaller craft including small rafts, inflatable kayaks and canoes, facilitating portages from one braid to another without too much effort.

The Nigu River is located along the migratory route of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, numbering over 250,000 individuals, which allows visitors to view countless Caribou as they migrate toward their wintering grounds. Aside from viewing Caribou, visitors can often enjoy sightings of Musk Oxen, Grizzly Bear, Moose and Wolves. Fishing opportunity is excellent on the Nigu River for both Arctic Grayling and Arctic Char.

Nomadic tribes belonging to the Arctic Small Tool Tradition once lived in the Nigu-Colville River drainage. Visitors to the Nigu River will see the evidence of these cultures remaining in the numerous archaeological sites along the way.

Trips down the Nigu River generally run 10 or more days and take place in August. August brings autumn to the high Arctic and visitors can expect a fall color display resembling a calico quilt upon the treeless high tundra. In addition, August brings longer nights making for excellent stargazing and viewing of the Aurora Borealis from camp.

The Nigu River put-in is accessed by flight from Fairbanks to the small bush town of Bettles with an additional float plane trip to a small lake at either the Nigu or Etivluk River headwaters. Trips takeout after the Nigu has met with the Colville River and visitors are shuttled back to Bettles by bush or float plane where they take a return trip back to Fairbanks via plane or vehicle.

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. 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.

River Details

Class:
Class I-II
Suitability:
Canoe
River Length
90 miles
Time
10 days
Season:
August
Nearest Town
Bettles, Fairbanks (Fly-in)
Guides Available?
No
Additional Details
In Gates of Arctic National Park and Preserve, National Park Pass required.

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


Copyright © 1997 - 2020 The Go Travel Sites. All Rights Reserved and.

Email Page Link

Complete the form below to email this page to a friend or family member's email. You can send yourself an email as well. Your email and your recipient's email will NOT be shared with anyone. See our full Privacy Policy for details.
:
:
:
 
 
 
:
Copy Yourself on the Email Yes No
:
:

1

Select a Free Visitor Guide below

2

Complete the form to receive your guides by mail
Unalaska / Dutch Harbor Unalaska / Dutch Harbor Unalaska / Dutch Harbor
Aleutian ChainThis is the place to go for those seeking peace and quiet, as well as unforgettable natural beauty. Take a cruise for an up close and personal view of the surrounding ocean.
Request this Free Visitor GuideRequested! You're all set! Complete the form below to receive your guides by mail.